Policeman plays down vandalism fears
A POLICEMAN has played down a spate of vandalism in a picturesque Suffolk town - despite suggesting some areas “look like somewhere in Iraq”.In the last few weeks Woodbridge has been hit by a series of incidents which have alarmed police officers, residents, traders and town councillors.
By Richard Smith
A POLICEMAN has played down a spate of vandalism in a picturesque Suffolk town - despite suggesting some areas “look like somewhere in Iraq”.
In the last few weeks Woodbridge has been hit by a series of incidents which have alarmed police officers, residents, traders and town councillors.
This includes wing mirrors being ripped off more than 10 cars in Seckford Street; £2,000 damage to a window in St Mary's Church; shop windows being smashed in the Thoroughfare; damage on the River Wall, gravestones overturned in the cemetery and other gravestones splashed with paint.
Cars have also been damaged in Cherry Tree Road and 15 saplings were snapped in half on the A12.
In other incidents youths threw bollards at a coach driver and he was fortunate to escape serious injury.
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Youngsters from Melton and Rendlesham have begun congregating at the Turban Centre at night while Woodbridge youths have been displaced to Kingston playing fields, sparking fears that a “turf war” could erupt.
The cost of the damage runs into tens of thousands of pounds and Mick Sears, the town centre beat officer, told the town council: “I know it seems all doom and gloom in the town and it does look like somewhere in Iraq - but it is not quite as bad as it seems.”
Pc Sears said eight troublemakers had been banned from all licensed premises in the town and a 19-year-old had been fined £700 for smashing windows. He had been caught in the act by a member of the public and officers found him hiding in toilets.
He said that between November 17 and January 5 there were four assaults and 13 incidents of criminal damage reported to the police. The number of drink-related incidents had fallen, he added.
Russell Geen, mayor, said: “I think Woodbridge is going through a very bad state and I do not know what we are going to do about it.
“We do need the inspector to be out there walking the streets and we need more police officers. I saw 15-year-olds throwing bollards at a coach and it is a wonder that the driver was not killed.”
Nigel Barratt, district councillor, said: “I am not a fan of CCTV and I dislike Big Brother watching us, but I am beginning to realise the potential value of it and we could also do with an extra four or five people at the police station.”
Fellow district councillor Les Binns added: “I have had repeated comments and complaints by local residents because of the increased vandalism and, what is becoming increasingly worse, their fear of vandalism.”
A new inspector, Terry Byford, has been appointed at Woodbridge and she has been asked to sort out the anti-social behaviour problems in the town.