Police's town crime crackdown a success

By Richard SmithA MOVE to put more bobbies on the beat in a town centre to combat a wave of vandalism and petty crime has led to the arrest of more offenders.

By Richard Smith

A MOVE to put more bobbies on the beat in a town centre to combat a wave of vandalism and petty crime has led to the arrest of more offenders.

Inspector Terry Byford, of Woodbridge police, said almost every day that the extra officers had worked they had made at least one arrest.

She hoped the officers' high-profile policing in the town, combined with an alcohol ban in public places, would halt the anti-social behaviour and prevent the need for a dispersal order.

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Woodbridge town councillors have asked for a dispersal order for a large area of the town, including shopping streets, parks and the riverside.

This would give police the power to break up groups of people if they believe their behaviour could intimidate others.

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They could exclude people for up to 24 hours, with the punishment for disobeying police up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

Police also have the power to take home young people aged under 16 found on the streets after 9pm and not under the control of an adult.

Insp Byford told the town council: "I do not feel that a dispersal order is appropriate at this time and I hope that, over the summer, other initiatives will improve quality of life for those who use Woodbridge legitimately.

"I am very grateful for the support that I have received from the town council and my officers and I will continue to work with you in the best interests of Woodbridge."

But Mac Miles, a former mayor, said: "I think the crime is driving people out and house prices down. Elderly people and others are just not prepared to go out at night.

"We are going to be a town which is extremely worried about the amount of vandalism, loud music late at night, people on Fen Meadow and Kingston playing fields late at night on Friday and Saturday.

"There are groups of them, there are beer cans, vodka bottles, they are still there and nothing has been changed."

Ben Redsell, county councillor, said it would be highly unlikely that a dispersal order would be granted for the area because the dispersal orders made in Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft were for residential estates.

"I think it would be a step too far and it would stigmatise Woodbridge in a way we would not need," he added.

The possibility of applying for a dispersal order will be discussed again by the town council in October.


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