Fighting and urinating in a lift - extent of anti-social behaviour in Suffolk’s libraries revealed

Gainsborough Library is one of the worst affected by anti-social behaviour across Suffolk. Picture:

Gainsborough Library is one of the worst affected by anti-social behaviour across Suffolk. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

Urinating in a lift, defecating on a roof garden and fighting are some of the worst examples of anti-social behaviour which has been reported by Suffolk’s libraries over the past two years.

The offences are part of a swathe of anti-social behaviour incidents that have happened in or at Suffolk’s libraries, the true extent of which was revealed after figures were obtained by this newspaper from Suffolk County Council.

The information showed that library staff dealt with 511 incidents of anti-social behaviour between January 2018 and February 2020 including racism, violence and bad language.

Bruce Leeke, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “Like most public places anti-social behaviour can be an issue in libraries.

“It can be disruptive and stressful for customers and staff so it’s an issue Suffolk Libraries takes very seriously.

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“However, to put this into context, we have nearly three million visits to our libraries every year and it is a very small minority of people who pose a problem.

In recent years we’ve strengthened our response to anti-social behaviour to support staff and also provided them with more training to help deal with incidents.”

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Gainsborough Library saw the worst of the behaviour with staff dealing with 228 incidents since the start of 2018.

Suffolk police were called to attend the library 34 times.

Mr Leeke added: “We’ve tackled these issues successfully in certain areas – for example Chantry and Lowestoft over the past few years and through working with staff and the police, we were able to reduce the number of incidents.

“Gainsborough Library is a very busy and cherished local facility which recently won the Strengthen Your Community award in the Suffolk High Sheriff’s awards.

“The library has recently upgraded its CCTV and staff also have bodycams which have been proven to help reduce issues.”

Some of the more extreme incidents were seen at Ipswich Library where in the space of a month in 2018, it was reported that someone defecated on a roof garden, a person urinated in a lift, there were reports of fly tipping, verbal abuse and fighting.

Staff even recorded a case of “blood contamination” during the same month.

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