Norfolk police chief says sorry for Cromer disorder and pledges to win back trust
PUBLISHED: 07:49 25 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:46 25 August 2017
Norfolk’s top police officer today pledged to rebuild trust in the force after the weekend of disorder in Cromer.
In his first interview since the trouble, which saw businesses across the North Norfolk town shut, Chief Constable Simon Bailey admitted trust in the police had been lost in Cromer after a spate of crimes linked to a group of Travellers.
Speaking about his visits to Cromer this week Mr Bailey said: “I’ve heard the words ‘lawless, ineffectual, standing by’. They are the feelings and the views of the communities of Cromer and I’ve got to listen to that.”
He added: “They feel let down, they feel hurt, they feel frightened and I need now to start rebuilding that trust.
“I’m genuinely sorry they feel let down.”
He said more officers would be on duty in Cromer this Bank Holiday weekend and a review had been ongoing since Monday into the way the problems were dealt with by the police.
Businesses shut down on Saturday and Sunday in the face of the disorder and there is widespread anger at the police’s perceived lack of response and the fact just one arrest has been made.
A man in his 30s was arrested on Monday after a teenage girl was raped on Friday night. The attack is now being linked to the rest of the disorder in the town.
Police have been accused of not having enough officers in the town at the end of Cromer Carnival week and not responding effectively when problems began.
Mr Bailey said the review, led by a detective chief superintendent, would look into the whole policing operation, including whether they had enough resources, the tactics used, and the response to the public while the trouble was ongoing.
“We need to look at protocol for engaging with Travelling communities,” he said. “Did we have enough resources? Did we have the intelligence?”
He said police did not have any idea that the Travellers were coming to Cromer.
Police knew that a group of Travellers, who caused problems in Lowestoft on Thursday, were coming to Norfolk but did not know where.
“While I do not want to pre-empt the outcome of our investigation, I am sure that there will be lessons we can learn moving forward,” he said.
And Mr Bailey stressed how unusual the events were and that the vast majority of Travellers did not cause problems on their visits to Norfolk.
“I can’t remember the last time we had anything of this nature,” he said. “We police Norfolk very efficiently and effectively - 99.9pc of the time we get it right.”
Video footage has circulated of officers standing by as one group of people drank in a non-alcohol zone.
He said it was “really difficult” to hear the criticisms of police on his visits to Cromer this week.
“All I can do is go and listen,” he said. “All I can do is demonstrate that I want to do everything to ensure that this never ever happens again.”
He said the trouble had been caused by a “small minority” of criminals who felt they were above the law.
“Should they dare to come back to Norfolk... they will be dealt with in a very different fashion,” he pledged.
“Please don’t think that just because they are somewhere else in the country this is now forgotten - it’s not.”
A detective inspector is looking at the crimes committed over the weekend which ranged from shop lifting and public disorder to one rape.
Police received reports of 37 crimes but Mr Bailey said the figure was likely to be higher.
“I think more crimes than the 37 were committed – looking at intimidation and threatening behaviour I think there are probably a lot.
“There was a small minority that caused a whole load of fear.”
He appealed for anyone with mobile phone footage or CCTV of any crimes committed to pass it on to police.
“I want to see these people brought to justice,” he said.
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