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Cromer disorder: Some say it’s time to move on but not everyone is convinced the town is safe from further outbreaks

Travellers' motorhomes at Runton Road car park in Cromer during the weekend. Picture: Ally McGilvray

Travellers' motorhomes at Runton Road car park in Cromer during the weekend. Picture: Ally McGilvray

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A police pledge to put in place an action plan which should stave off a repeat of Cromer’s violent August weekend has met a mixed reaction in the seaside town.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey addressed residents and business owners in Cromer at a special meeting after the weekend of disorder. Picture : ANTONY KELLYChief Constable Simon Bailey addressed residents and business owners in Cromer at a special meeting after the weekend of disorder. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk Constabulary has vowed to lift its game in four key areas after the August 18 weekend, which saw 37 crimes reported - including a rape - and businesses forced to shut early costing the town tens of thousands of pounds.

Afterwards, the Force was roundly criticised for its lack of reaction to the outbreak, and for playing down its seriousness, initially describing it as “anti-social behaviour and low-level disorder”.

But Gary Dickenson, Cromer Chamber of Trade and Business president, said it was now time to move on.

MORE: Cromer violence: New report shines a light on police failures and suggests sweeping improvements

Mr Dickenson said: “I’m extremely pleased to see that this thorough report has been completed and I’m fully confident that an incident like this will not repeat itself.

Laurie Scott, business partner at Cromer's Breakers Cafe, is among those who think it is time to move on from the weekend of disorder. Picture: Stuart AndersonLaurie Scott, business partner at Cromer's Breakers Cafe, is among those who think it is time to move on from the weekend of disorder. Picture: Stuart Anderson

“I think now the important thing is to close the door on this and focus on everything that’s great about Cromer ready for 2018.”

Laurie Scott, business partner Breakers Cafe, agreed, saying: “Without trying to play down that it was a very bad weekend for Cromer I have to say that I applaud Chief Constable Simon Bailey for his openness.

“He has gone up and admitted the mistakes that he has made, he is putting things in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again and I believe him. I think they would be all over it like a rash.”

But not everyone is convinced that the police would be able to prevent a repeat of the disorder, which is widely blamed on a group of more than 50 travellers who occupied the Runton Road car park.

MORE: Businesses count cost but sunny Cromer is back on its feet after weekend of trouble

A customer at the Wellington pub, who did not want to be named, said: “I’m sure it will happen again.

“Knowing human nature they will want to up the ante and see what else they can get away with. They (the police) have to get armed officers here and make a stance.”

Malcolm Hannah, assistant manager of Mary Jane’s Fish Bar, said: “If they clamped down on it then hopefully it will put them off trying to do it again.”

And commenting about the issue on Facebook, Steve Vargerso wrote: “It will happen again unless the way travellers are dealt with is toughened.”

The action plan

An internal investigation into the police response to the Cromer disorder has this week been concluded.

Although Norfolk Constabulary has declined to release the report in full, police have detailed four key areas in which they need to improve to prevent a repeat of the weekend of crime and violence.

Over the coming weeks, Mr Bailey is to oversee an action plan that will look at: The flow of information and intelligence within the constabulary, leadership decisions, media response and protocols for dealing with unauthorized encampments.

The investigation found that officers were placed in an “impossible situation”, lacking the resources to deal with the disorder because it had been treated as “part of normal business”.

It also said certain travelling groups had “changed in nature” and were becoming more common in Norfolk, and a review needed to be carried out as to how they were dealt with.

Compensation

Businesses which lost money due to the disorder could be eligible for compensation through the police.

Mr Bailey said at a specially convened accountability meeting in Cromer on September 6 that payouts could be made to shops, pubs and other venues that were forced to close early because of concerns over what was happening in the town.

Mr Dickenson estimated the losses would run to the tens of thousands of pounds.

Jo Lee, who works at the town’s Wellington pub, said she agreed compensation should be paid. She said: “They should help Cromer out. It’s not the big boys who lost money. They didn’t help us then but they need to help us now.”

A police spokesman ssaid: “In accordance with the civil procedure rules and the pre-action protocols, anyone seeking to bring a claim for compensation against Norfolk Constabulary should write to the Constabulary’s legal services department setting out the facts that give rise to their claim, the legal basis for their claim and the compensation they are seeking.

“Any claims received will be allocated to a lawyer who will assess liability and correspond with the claimants. Litigants in person are encouraged to seek legal advice in order to formulate their claims.”

Claims can be made in writing to Norfolk Constabulary Legal Services,

Operations and Communications Centre, Jubilee House, Falconers Chase Wymondham Norfolk NR18 0WW.

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