Police in Cromer say sorry for playing down weekend of disorder
Businesses forced to shut had disputed Norfolk police’s description of widespread antisocial behaviour as ‘low-level’
Cromer. Norfolk police’s chief constable told a meeting of residents: ‘We got it wrong. We’ll learn the lessons.’ Photograph: Fabio De Paola
Thursday 7 September 2017 13.49 BST The Guardian
Last modified on Thursday 7 September 2017 16.15 BST
Police have apologised for the way they responded to a weekend of disorder blamed on Travellers that forced a seaside town into “lockdown”.
Norfolk police initially described the widespread trouble in Cromer in mid-August as “low-level disorder” and said an instance of rape in the town on the same weekend was not linked. But its chief constable has now said the force misjudged the situation.
“There were a number of incidences of theft, of antisocial behaviour, of criminal damage, and we misjudged our message, and I’m sorry that we got that message wrong. We got it wrong. We’ll learn the lessons. It won’t happen again,” Simon Bailey said.
According to the BBC, he told a meeting of residents in the north Norfolk town: “I’m genuinely sorry that we created the impression that this was a low-level disorder.”
Police initially played down the scale of the trouble in a press release, which was strongly contested by those who were on the receiving end of the disorder. Bailey said the force was undertaking a review of its response, which would “look at our media messages”.
Crabs, chips and carnival chaos: why changing Cromer faced lockdown
Many businesses in the town were forced to shut their doors amid reports of antisocial behaviour among a large group of people. There were numerous reports of them refusing to pay in restaurants and pubs, and stealing from shops. Police were called when large groups refused to leave various pubs.
A young woman also reported a sexual assault. Referring to that crime, Bailey told the meeting: “We had a rape which, whilst at the time we didn’t connect to the group, we are now absolutely connecting.” Two men arrested in connection with the attack were released on police bail on 30 August.
The blame for the trouble has been placed squarely on the shoulders of a group of Travellers who arrived near the town on 18 August.
Having initially been silent on the issue, Norfolk police has since said it supports the view that the disorder was “involving members of the Travelling community”. Its deputy chief constable, Nick Dean, has previously said it would be “totally disproportionate” to blame the “Travelling community as a whole” for the actions of those responsible for that weekend’s disorder.
According to the BBC, Bailey’s apology was well received by some local residents, though others remained unconvinced, complaining of a lack of backup from the police.
Aryun Nessa Uddin, whose restaurant was badly affected by the disorder, was quoted as saying: “It’s disgusting what has happened to me. Three [police] vehicles parked right opposite watched the whole ordeal and didn’t come to my help.”
No mate, they were waiting for you to sort it out, they were trying to appear politically correct.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey was adamant the report into what happened would not be buried and the criminals would be brought to justice, the meeting ended with many people still unconvinced.
Mr Bailey admitted that the trouble was caused by an extended Irish traveller family comprising about 100 people who had descended on the town, camping at the Runton road car park, on the night of Friday, August 18. They left on Sunday, August 20.
Mr Bailey also said that the rape of a young woman in the town on Friday night was being linked to the weekend of disorder. Three men have been arrested in connection with the rape. CLICK HERE