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Calls for increased police presence to tackle ‘Bungay Mafia’

PUBLISHED: 14:16 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:16 18 February 2020

The police have warned against vigilantism after posts to a local Facebook group suggested townspeople were considering patrolling their town with baseball bats. Photo: Archant

The police have warned against vigilantism after posts to a local Facebook group suggested townspeople were considering patrolling their town with baseball bats. Photo: Archant

Archant

A MP has expressed concerns that a significant increase in “violent, criminal and antisocial behaviour” across his constituency is leaving residents fearing reprisals if they contact the police.

Broad Street, in Bungay. Photo: Matthew NixonBroad Street, in Bungay. Photo: Matthew Nixon

In a letter to Suffolk Police, Waveney MP Peter Aldous bemoaned the fact that police responses regarding antisocial behaviour are "slow and ineffective".

In particular, Mr Aldous confronted Bungay's policing 'exposure' due to reorganisation of policing sectors across the area.

He said: "I was advised that people are no longer reporting crime incidents as there is a general perception that nothing will happen if they do so.

"There is also a reluctance to provide Witness Statements as there is concern the police response will be ineffective and there is a fear of reprisals against them.

A police funding deficit of £30 million is failing rural towns on the East Anglian coast, according to Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Photo: Reece HansonA police funding deficit of £30 million is failing rural towns on the East Anglian coast, according to Waveney MP Peter Aldous. Photo: Reece Hanson

"I believe that there is an urgent need for an increase in police presence in Bungay, particularly at night-time and to proactively engage with residents and businesses.

"The presence of police vehicles is helpful, but there is a need to rebuild confidence and trust in the force by communicating with individuals."

Just days ago, now-deleted posts on Facebook suggested residents were considering patrolling the town with baseball bats to deter the so-called 'Bungay Mafia'.

At the time, inspector Liz Casey condemned the idea and pleaded with residents to report incidents.

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Responding to the letter, she said: "We became aware of the concerns from local residents during late December 2019 and, as a result, I met with the town council to gather more information and to outline how we would use our resources to tackle the issues.

"I can confirm that crime and anti-social behaviour in Bungay remains a policing priority for the local Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT).

"Our SNT officers have significantly increased patrols, both visible and plain clothes, in the area. We have engaged with the local community to gather further information, intelligence regarding ASB, and are continuing to identify those individuals at the heart of the problem.

"As a result, significant arrests have been made, for a wide number of offences, and those investigations are ongoing at this time.

"Subsequent meetings with the town council, including a locality meeting on February 17, have highlighted the positive effects of recent police action.

"However, we shall not become complacent and will continue, together with our partners and partner agencies, to target those who choose to engage in criminality and ASB.

"Our three SNT officers dedicated to the Beccles and Bungay areas - PC Steve Fisher, PC Emily Leach and PC Richard Bemment - will continue to provide visible local policing and reassurance patrols to the communities."

The latest spate of damange in the town involved lights and wing mirrors damaged on eight cars, on top of reports of loitering, vandalising play equipment, throwing eggs and intimidating residents.

Some claim the gang have left other teenagers "terrified" due to the fact that people have been hanging around "drinking, smoking cannabis and generally being intimidating".

Anyone wishing to discuss local policing issues is urged to meet Community Engagement Officer Amy Yeldham at a crime prevention and pop-in event at Bungay Library on March 17, between 10.30am and 11.30am.

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