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Police chiefs deny Cromer was on weekend ‘lockdown’ and pledge to investigate any crimes

PUBLISHED: 15:20 21 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:06 22 August 2017

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Police chiefs have denied Cromer was on “lockdown” at the weekend and defended their response after being accused of standing by during an escalation in public disorder.

There has been a high visibility police presence in Cromer and Sheringham, including here at Runton Road car park. Picture: Ally McGilvray There has been a high visibility police presence in Cromer and Sheringham, including here at Runton Road car park. Picture: Ally McGilvray

The disturbances began on Friday, August 18, when police were called to five incidents of theft, three from shops and two from local pubs. They also received calls relating to to the safety of a group of people standing in the middle of a road, however they had moved on before police arrived on the scene.

MORE: Back in business: Cromer returns to normal after travellers evicted

Disorder continued on Saturday, with reports of shoplifting and low-level anti-social behaviour causing many of the pubs to close early at around 7pm.

No arrests have yet been made but Norfolk Police have pledged to investigate any crimes reported to them.

Cromer on Sunday, after the weekend's disturbances. Picture: Ally McGilvray Cromer on Sunday, after the weekend's disturbances. Picture: Ally McGilvray

Speaking to the BBC this morning, DCC Nick Dean insisted Cromer is a “safe town” and the weekend was an “isolated incident”.

“People’s perception of disorder is one for themselves,” he said.

MORE: ‘We literally had to force them out’ - Workers describe the moment a crowd of 40 people ‘ambushed’ their restaurant“

We can’t deny a group of the travelling community were in North Norfolk at the time and a group of 20 to 25 vans did descend on the town.

The Masala Twist restaurant in Prince of Wales Road, Cromer, where trouble brewed on Saturday night. Picture: Ally McGilvray The Masala Twist restaurant in Prince of Wales Road, Cromer, where trouble brewed on Saturday night. Picture: Ally McGilvray

“To put the blame on the travelling community as a whole is totally disproportionate.

“We have engaged with a number of businesses to get a holistic picture of what happened over the weekend. We will be investigating any incident that occurred during that time. What we need to put balance on is reports over the weekend as dramatically exaggerated as a town in lock down.

MORE: No arrests made in Cromer after weekend of thefts and disruptions

“In actual fact disorder of any level had calmed down dramatically by yesterday morning.

Armed police were called to Church Street in Cromer. Picture: Ally McGilvray Armed police were called to Church Street in Cromer. Picture: Ally McGilvray

“We undoubtedly accept this was unusual. Of the reports we received, it was a considerable increase in calls we got to that time.

“We are not playing this down. We are rating this as a serious incident in how we dealt with it, in partnership with the local business community.

“We reacted and put extra resources in, and we will continue that over the forthcoming days.”

DCC Dean added arrests will be made if they are “proportionate”.

“Nobody is above the law,” he said. “Before we make any arrests it has to be around proportionality. We dealt with a number of incidents over the weekend in a proportionate and considerate way in terms of the evidence we had available. If people come forward with evidence or as witnesses we will fully investigate those incidents.

“We treat everyone equally and fairly, whether they be from the travelling community or any other section of society.”

DCC Dean said businesses themselves had requested to close, a decision supported by police. He said their reports indicate the travellers have now moved on to Peterborough, Colchester, or London.

“My colleagues have spoken to all those forces last night to make them aware of the incidents over the weekend,” he said. “We have very good networks and we collaborate with neighbouring forces. Our traveller liaison officer has extensive network throughout the country.”

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