Horror Halloween for police

POLICE have hit out at “mindless” thugs who used Halloween as an excuse to pelt homes, cars and residents during a two-hour terror spree on Sunday night.

POLICE have hit out at “mindless” thugs who used Halloween as an excuse to pelt homes, cars and residents during a two-hour terror spree on Sunday night.

Control room staff at Essex Police headquarters in Chelmsford had to deal with more than 200 calls from frightened residents complaining about Halloween violence, mainly caused by nuisance youths.

Gangs across Essex prowled the county's streets, using popular trick or treat demands as a sinister pretext to provoke mayhem and distress.

Stones, eggs, apples, flour and pumpkins were hurled indiscriminately at homes, people and cars.


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Fireworks were also used as instruments of intimidation with some whooshing dangerously close to roofs while others were delivered directly through letter-boxes.

Hundreds of residents - many elderly - were too scared to answer their doors and many kept their lights switched off for fear of indicating they were at home.

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A handful of arrests were made in connection with criminal damage, but police struggled to deploy officers to every single incident.

Officers in the force's Braintree division received more than 30 separate reports as a total of up to 100 youths sought out trouble.

The incidents all happened within a couple of hours of each other between 7pm and 9pm on Sunday.

The Halstead area was the worst hit with 15 complaints received, while around another 20 were reported in Witham and Braintree.

A large pumpkin was thrown at the door of a house in Petworth Close, Black Notley.

A Braintree police spokesman said the incidents tied up officer's time and added: “It just seems to be an excuse for mindless vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

“What these kinds of acts have to do with the celebration of Halloween is very difficult to see.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said a large number of the 200 calls it fielded centrally in Chelmsford had been made by pensioners.

He said the actions of many trick-or-treaters “went far beyond the bounds of acceptability”.

Graham Butland, leader of Braintree District Council, said in the future community wardens would be deployed on the streets at Halloween to work alongside stretched police resources.

He added: “We will be looking to see whether they will have the power to issue fixed fines to people causing this kind of trouble.”

Meanwhile, Essex Fire Service attended 15 calls where fireworks had been irresponsibly let off over the weekend.

Of those, five fireworks had been put through doors and windows and five others were put into phone and post boxes.

A spokeswoman said: “All these incident are believed to have been caused by children - it is only a matter of time before lives are lost because of the irresponsible use of fireworks.”

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