'We moved to Norfolk for a better life - it's been the total opposite'
PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:09 12 January 2020
A Dereham homeowner says he has been plagued by crime since swapping London for Norfolk.
The man, who is in his 50s and asked to remain anonymous, says he and his wife moved to the countryside more than a decade ago in search of a better life.
But the couple's fresh start did not turn out how they had envisaged, as issues with anti-social behaviour, drugs and fighting soon became apparent.
The man, who moved from Harold Wood in east London, said problems came to a head in December, when his car was vandalised overnight.
"We moved here 12 years ago for a better quality of life and it has been the total opposite," he said. "This is supposed to be a nice area, or at least that's what we thought when we moved here.
"There have been burglaries, drugs, fighting - if I wanted that I could have stayed in London. A lot of drug dealing goes on round here and there have been big punch-ups behind my house.
"With my car being smashed, you feel like you're being personally targeted and you cannot get away from that feeling. The psychological impact is terrible.
"Since that weekend, I find it really hard to sleep. I'm up at 2 or 3am waiting for it to happen again and no one should have to feel like that."
The man's fears of being targeted were allayed when he noticed social media posts complaining of similar vandalism to cars elsewhere in the Dereham area.
He hopes highlighting his own experience can alleviate the fears of others who feel targeted, a mindset he would like to see replicated by others in the community.
"Where I lived down south, everyone was very community-driven," he added. "In Dereham I've always been very cheery, but my neighbours have hardly spoken to me for five years.
"My biggest thing is there is clearly crime in the area, so you would expect people to look out for one another - but it just doesn't happen."
Despite the man's claims, Dereham-based police Sgt Matthew Howes said: "There have been no specific issues raised in relation to an escalation of crime in this particular area over the last few years.
"We hold regular Safer Neighbourhood Action Panel (SNAP) meetings and have regular patrols in the area."
- Have you moved to Norfolk from outside the county in recent years? Email email@example.com with your experiences.