Police criticised for Skegness 'lock down' from travellers
POLICE could have done more to stop a town being ‘locked down’ following the arrival of travellers, it has been claimed.
Members of Skegness Town Council claimed the police could have given more assurances to businesses ahead of the arrival of travellers to the town last month.
In August, around 300 members of the travelling community arrived in a Skegness believed to be for a wedding.
A group of which pitched up at the Princes Parade car park off South parade, owned by East Lindsey District Council.
Inspector Andy Morrice, Community Policing Inspector for Skegness said: “We had approximately 20-30 incidents rung in to the police in relation to the travellers. The vast majority were panic messages such as ‘I’ve heard they are going to trash my pub’ and nothing happened.
“It was mainly rumours going around town.
“In terms of actual crime, the crime rate did not go up the week they were down here.”
But some councillors claimed that the police should make use of special intelligence to warn business owners of the arrival of the travellers.
Councillor Phil Kemp said: “They come every year and we’ve been completely let down.”
But Inspector Morrice said travellers deliberately travel in small groups, making use of back roads and travelling in from all directions.
He said: “They know if they travel in a huge convoy, they know they will get spotted and stopped.
“They know if they arrive as a large community, the town will just lock down.
“ If they have spent thousands of pounds on a wedding which then gets cancelled on them, that is going to cause problems.”
The police worked with the town’s Shop Watch and Pub Watch schemes to help businesses at the time the travellers were in town. Special Constables also helped assist the police.
Councillor Mark Anderson referred to an incident several years ago when travellers arrived at Christmas.
He said: “We were promised by the then Chief Constable intelligence would be gathered and given to us in advance warning.
“What was said then has not happened.
“People still have the fear from what happened years ago.”
Councillor Sue Binch claimed businesses did suffer from shoplifting which went unreported to police.
She said: “The shop keepers said ‘what is the point’ - that is how much trust they have with the police at the moment regarding travellers.
“It is wrong in this day of age to not report incidents because of reprisals. That is the fear people have got.
“I know of two businesses which did not take any money. Pubs closed down early, there were increased costs with security.
“We should not have this every year.”
Councillor Dick Edginton said both the police and East Lindsey District Council have limited powers due to the law.
“The law itself frankly is inadequate. It needs to be raised by our Member of Parliament.”