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.


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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.

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