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Police review response to Cromer disorder amid anger and complaints

PUBLISHED: 08:20 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:51 22 August 2017

Norfolk Constabulary's Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean is in the spotlight following concerns over his force's handling of disorder in Cromer over the weekend. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk Constabulary's Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean is in the spotlight following concerns over his force's handling of disorder in Cromer over the weekend. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

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Police today launched a review into their response to a weekend of disorder in north Norfolk as anger grew at the way a group of travellers were able to cause the temporary closure of Cromer.

North Norfolk District Council evicted 23 traveller caravans from its Runton Road car park in Cromer. Picture : ANTONY KELLY North Norfolk District Council evicted 23 traveller caravans from its Runton Road car park in Cromer. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

From Friday afternoon through to Sunday, police recorded 37 incidents in the resort, which coincided with the arrival of around 20 vehicles and at least 50 travellers at the Runton Road car park.

The disorder led to the closure of businesses who lost tens of thousands of pounds.

The most serious reported crime was the rape of a teenage girl on Friday night at a bus stop on Cadogan Road by two men.

On Monday one man in his 30s was arrested in Essex on suspicion of rape. And after initially saying the rape was not linked to the disorder, police said it may be linked.

Travellers set up an illegal camp in Runton Road car park in Cromer. Picture: Submitted Travellers set up an illegal camp in Runton Road car park in Cromer. Picture: Submitted

Some businesses put the trouble down to a lack of police officers - a concern which has previously been raised in North Norfolk.

A meeting in December in Sheringham heard there were just 14 officers some nights covering the whole of North Norfolk and Broadland – which has a population of 220,000.

And manager of The Wellington pub on Garden Street, Nick Copeman said it was “disgusting” that police had so few officers available over the weekend.

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean said the scale of the trouble was very unusual but insisted they had enough officers on duty.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing and we can always review and go back over different events as they unfold, but based upon the intelligence and information that we had...I’m confident we had enough resources,” he said.

Suffolk police said yesterday they had warned Norfolk police a group of travellers who had caused problems in Lowestoft on Thursday night were on their way to Norfolk.

But DCC Dean said they had “no intelligence” that the group would come to Cromer.

Police had been reluctant to link the trouble to the travellers, causing further anger in Cromer.

But yesterday DCC Dean said: “An influx of the travelling community in Cromer... led to an increase in low level disorder and thefts and the events that we know about.

He said “a large proportion” of the incidents were related to the travelling community but it would be wrong to say all the events were.

“What I want to be really careful of is not labelling the whole of the travelling community in terms of this disorder,” he said.

•What happened when?

August 18

A group of travellers arrive at Runton Road car park on Friday afternoon.

The first call to police from a businesses about problems is thought to be around 4pm when a gift shop on Garden Street reports shoplifting. •In total police said they were called to five incidents of theft, three from shops and two from local pubs where drinks were taken and not paid for.

At 11.30pm police are called to Cromer Social Club to reports a large group are refusing to leave

A teenage girl is allegedly raped at 11.30pm at a bus stop on Cadogan Road

August 19

Throughout the day police receive reports of shoplifting and anti-social behaviour. An eviction notice is served on the travellers.

Most pubs and restaurants close for the evening, but officers are called about 5pm to one pub and also to Masala Twist on Prince of Wales Road.

Shortly after 8.50pm, officers are called to Seacroft caravan park.

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