Extra police for market town yobs

Eleven extra police officers will be drafted in to control violence on the streets of a Norfolk market town over the next two weekends after recent fights resulted in three arrests, and left one policeman injured.

Eleven extra police officers will be drafted in to control violence on the streets of a Norfolk market town over the next two weekends after recent fights resulted in three arrests, and left one policeman injured.

Licensing officer Mike Thomson said Watton was a “hot spot for crime and disorder” with 39 violent incidents occurring on Friday and Saturday nights since last November.

And four of the fights happened at a take-away which was granted a late license to sell fast food yesterday by Breckland councillors - despite police warnings that it would encourage more disorder at a time when additional officers were needed to control the town.

Mr Thompson warned of further violence near the Watton Kebab and Pizza House on the High Street, as customers loitered in the street, queuing for food after pubs closed.

And police were concerned that a later opening may provide a magnet for trouble-makers leading to further disturbances.

But councillors at the licensing committee meeting rejected advice that the premises should not stay open past 1am. And they turned down the owner's application to remain open until 2am.

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Instead they compromised, granting the take-away an extension till 1.30am.

Member for Thetford Pam Spencer, who chaired the meeting, said: “It is not felt a later licence will lead to an increase in public disorder or crime.”

But community patrol officer Sgt Dave Howell said after the meeting that disorder in the town was so bad around The Bull pub in the town centre that his team were launching an initiative, which would include putting more officers on the beat.

Six officers from the mobile support team, four special constables, and three Dereham public order patrol officers will be on duty over the coming two weekends, as opposed to the usual two.

Sgt Howell said: “This is to get officers on the ground. If you live in the area, you will see a large police presence in the town centre and wonder what is going on.”

And he added: “The number of arrests does not completely show the full picture. We try not to arrest people if we can but send them home, so there have been more incidents than just three.”

And he said there would be meetings held with licensees to make sure they were complying with regulations.