‘It won’t happen again’ vow at angry police meeting over ‘lawless’ Cromer weekend
PUBLISHED: 08:43 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:20 07 September 2017
“It won’t happen again” - that was the emphatic message from Norfolk’s chief constable to the people of Cromer following a “lawless” weekend which saw the town under siege.
Pubs and businesses closed their doors as the north Norfolk town went into “lockdown” last month following a rape and series of thefts and disturbances following the arrival of a group of travellers.
Police initially described the disorder as “low level” prompting anger from people living and working in the town who were forced to shut down after being targeted by thugs who had moved into the area at the end of the Norfolk town’s carnival week.
The level of anger towards the police over what happened in Cromer three weeks ago led to a special public meeting being held.
About 200 people made their feelings known to Norfolk’s chief constable Simon Bailey and police and crime commissioner Lorne Green at a heated meeting at the town’s parish hall last night,
Police chiefs were told how people felt “let down” by the response to the trouble over the weekend of August 18-20 which was described as a “lawless” few days where the town was under siege.
One woman, who worked at a pub in the town where her manager was pulled over the bar and there were 15 people in the courtyard bare-knuckle fighting, said it was “lawless for two days”.
She told police chiefs: “You’ve let us down, you’ve let your bobbies down, you’ve let us all down.”
Others said they felt as if there was one law for the travellers and another for everyone else with offenders being allowed to pretty much do as they pleased and getting away with it “scot-free”.
Mr Bailey said he was sorry about the way people in the town rightly felt and said a review was being carried out into what exactly went wrong to ensure that it does not happen again.
He said: “I’m sorry for the way that you rightly feel, that you feel let down.
“There’s no doubt, knowing what I know now, that we did not get the policing right that weekend.
That weekend of 18, 19, 20 August was a bloody horrible weekend.
“I cannot recall a weekend like that in the past decade.
“You’ve got to give me a chance to rebuild your trust and confidence in me as chief constable and my organisation.
“You’ve suffered what you suffered that horrible weekend now plans will be put in place.
“This was a very rare occurrence and I’m sorry for the way you feel about that weekend and the harm that its done.
“We got it wrong. Plans will be put in place for next year so what happened that weekend cannot happen again.”
Mr Bailey said the trouble was caused by an extended Irish traveller family comprising about 100 people.
But he insisted it was a “small minority of the travelling community” who caused problems.
The meeting heard Norfolk Police had received intelligence from Suffolk Police about a group of travellers moving up from Lowestoft on the Friday.
Mr Bailey admitted they “hadn’t joined the dots” and said they did not get the response right on the Friday night.
He said: “If we had got it right we would’ve been able to move sufficient resources into Cromer that weekend.”
The chief constable said this would be one of a number of areas looked at as part of the ongoing review which, when finished, will be published and acted upon.
He insisted the review would not be allowed to drift and would be acted upon to ensure that there could or would be no repeat next year.
Mr Bailey also said police got it wrong over describing the disorder as “low level”.
He said; “We misjudged it. We hadn’t realised the impact on the communities of Cromer.”
In total 26 crimes were recorded in the town over that weekend, ranging from a rape, public order offences, thefts and criminal damage.
Mr Bailey said three people had been arrested in connection with the rape, a 17-year-old female and a 16-year-old male have been arrested in connection with thefts from shops.
He added investigations into other offences were still ongoing and that the police were looking to seize all the CCTV material available.
After the meeting Mr Bailey said it had been a “difficult two hours” but insisted he wanted to rebuild people’s trust and confidence in the force and him.