Rise of 'Bungay mafia' shows town is 'exposed' by lack of police, warn election candidates
Archant © 2018
A "gap in policing" has contributed to the rise of an intimidating group of troublemakers reportedly calling themselves the "Bungay mafia", election candidates have claimed.
However while Conservative Peter Aldous said the organisation of policing sectors had left the town "exposed", his Labour opponent Sonia Barker laid the blame squarely at the door of government cuts.
In response, Mr Aldous said police cuts in Suffolk had, in hindsight, been "inappropriate" - but also said: "When the policing structure was brought in 18 months ago, I had concerns that it leaves the Bungay area exposed."
In recent weeks there have been reports of a group of teenagers throwing eggs at properties and vandalising play equipment while loitering around Bungay town centre.
Some claim the gang have left other teenagers "terrified" because they have been "hanging around drinking, smoking cannabis and generally being intimidating".
Even though she said officers were "doing their best with limited resources", Mrs Barker - Labour's candidate for Waveney - said it showed: "Conservative cuts have had a real effect in our community.
"It's good resources that stop things getting that far. We've got an increasing population and we need more place."
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Asked about her comments, her Conservative opponent Peter Aldous - who has been Waveney's MP for the past nine years - said: "In hindsight, the reductions that were made from a Suffolk perspective were inappropriate."
However he also believes the way the policing sectors had been organised means that Bungay "doesn't get the coverage that it should".
He added: "I think it's quite clear there's a gap in policing.
"There are certainly some undesirable individuals who are behaving very badly and causing a lot of problems.
"If there was more of a presence, a lot of those issues would be nipped in the bud."
Locality inspector Elizabeth Casey - who is responsible for the Suffolk Constabulary safer neighbourhood teams in Lowestoft, Beccles and Bungay - said officers were aware of the incidents and "dealing with those responsible swiftly and appropriately".
She urged people to understand that "perception and reality are two different things" and maintained that: "We don't have 'county lines', we don't have gangs."
Other candidates standing in Waveney are Liberal Democrat Helen Korfanty, the Green Party's Elfrede Brambley-Crawshaw and Dave Brennan, who is standing for Christian Peoples.