Mass brawl erupts in genteel town

POLICE officers were allegedly spat at and assaulted as a mass brawl involving up to 50 people erupted in one of Suffolk's most picturesque market towns.

By John Howard

POLICE officers were allegedly spat at and assaulted as a mass brawl involving up to 50 people erupted in one of Suffolk's most picturesque market towns.

The large punch-up broke out in Framlingham just yards from its famous castle, and forced Suffolk police to call in officers from seven other towns to deal with the disturbance.

Men and women, in their late teens and early 20s, were involved in the melee - which came on the eve of the town's popular gala - leading to seven people being detained by police.

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Fighting broke out in the street outside the Castle Inn after police tried to break up a dispute between two people, which then escalated.

Police officers were called into contain the situation from Ipswich, Woodbridge, Felixstowe, Martlesham, Saxmundham, Leiston and Lowestoft.

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Seven people were held for public order offences after the violence erupted just before midnight on Friday night and ran into Saturday morning.

Nobody was seriously injured, although police officers were allegedly assaulted, spat on, and suffered bumps and grazes.

Inspector Matt Dee, of Suffolk police, said: “Officers were called in to help from far and wide, it was a melee, people refused to leave, it was alcohol-fuelled. Officers attended from most of the stations on the eastern side of Suffolk.

“I have never heard of such a problem in Framlingham, it's exceptionally unusual. This was fisty cuffs at dawn, people squaring up to others, pushing and shoving. But there were no significant injuries for the people involved.''

The inspector said the violence started after officers patrolling the area on foot saw a man being abusive to someone else, and a fight starting. Police tried to break it up, and the situation escalated.

Mr Dee said: “You can't have people squaring up to the public in the street and police walking by and turning a blind eye. It was the correct decision to detain one person, and things then escalated.

“Officers were spat in the face, officers were jostled. It carried on until about 12.30am. In people's drunken state they decided they did not want their friends to be detained and tried to liberate them, and then ended up being detained themselves.''

The seven people held were done so on suspicion of offences ranging from being drunk and disorderly to disorderly conduct likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress, and assaulting a police officer.

Elizabeth Lovell, from Ipswich, was visiting family in Framlingham for the weekend and said she found the melee quite frightening.

She said: “There was a lot of noise, a lot of very bad language, shouting, we were quite alarmed. They were all milling about and we were really fearful for the house, we thought that the windows might be put in. It was really very unpleasant in such a lovely place as Framlingham.''

Mark and Claire Robinson, who live near the Castle Inn, said there had been a lot of shouting and police cars on the scene.

Mr Robinson said: “It's the gala this weekend and people come in from different places and get a little high spirited.

“We were aware of a large number of people who had too much to drink and an awful lot of police about at one point, although I am not sure how many. But Framlingham is a great place to live, this really is a storm in a tea cup.''

Anthony Keer, an antiques dealer and restorer who sells from centres in Suffolk including Framlingham, said he was stunned to hear of the melee.

He said: “Framlingham is so genteel, has such a wonderful atmosphere, the beautiful castle and market place and it's hard to believe this could happen here. I imagine it's a one off.”

At the Castle Inn staff said there had been a lot of people in the town with the fair coming to Framlingham, and they understood that no-one was hurt in the melee.

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