Police failed to properly deal with disorder in a seaside town because senior officers “misread the significance of events”, a report says. A Norfolk Police review into why Cromer went into “lawless lockdown” after 100 travellers visited was instigated by the chief constable. Pubs, shops and restaurants closed over the weekend of 19 August following reports of rape, theft and assault.Poor information sharing led to a failure to deploy additional resources.In a statement, the force outlined the recommendations of its review, identifying four areas of concern over leadership, the sharing of intelligence, not understanding the power of social media and police not using powers to deal with unauthorised traveller encampments.The findings said officers had been notified by Suffolk Police that a group of travellers had left Lowestoft after being involved in a disturbance there, and was heading for the county.However, “the information and actions were not recorded on official systems” which meant it was not shared with key senior staff across the Norfolk force.Public information about the level of threat on social media was ignored, with commanders not realising the impact the travellers’ presence and behaviour was having on the community and “as a result insufficient additional resources were deployed”.Officers at the scene were therefore outnumbered and “unable to take positive action” to deal with 37 reported offences over the weekend, the report found.
The travellers arrived in Cromer at the end of the town’s festival week. According to the Chief Constable the group are not popular among the wider travelling community. Restaurants and pubs including the Theatre bar on Cromer Pier closed early following reports of thefts and anti-social behaviour on social media.Residents also warned on social media of travellers fighting in the town centre.
The recommendations found senior officers also “provided an ill-judged statement on social media referring to the disorder as ‘low-level'”. “These decisions combined meant that the travellers were not moved on quickly enough and the constabulary did not have the resources available to deal appropriately with the events that occurred in Cromer on that weekend, placing officers on the ground in an impossible position,” it added.Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “As I have said before, we got this wrong and I feel terribly sorry that the people of Cromer feel let down by our response.”We’ve trully come to understand the power of social media” he said. “If we’d drawn together the intelligence that was available and was known at the time and in different pockets of the organisation… we’d be in a very different position,” Mr Bailey added. A further independent review of the decisions made by individual commanders is still being carried out by Cumbria Police. “Any specific recommendations regarding leadership actions and decisions will be implemented once the independent review by Cumbria has been completed,” the report said. Norfolk Police said a number of crimes committed over the weekend are still being investigated.Two men have arrested and bailed in connection with a rape.
Source: BBC Norfolk