Street briefing set for crisis estate

A troubled estate in Toftwood is to be the centre of a police-led 'street briefing' which will include organisations from Victim Support to Kiss FM and an ice-cream van.

A troubled estate in Toftwood is to be the centre of a police-led 'street briefing' which will include organisations from Victim Support to Kiss FM and an ice-cream van.

The event, due on April 2, is part of a bid to tackle problems from verbal abuse to vandalism on the European Cities estate.

Residents there were at the end of their tether as the bad behaviour, thought to be by one small group of youths, came to a head at half term.

For the past three weeks police have been patrolling the estate every day between 4pm an 10pm, longer at weekends, after a public meeting was held on February 26, Dereham Town Council was told on Tuesday night.

Insp Pete Walsh told the council since then there had been more of a positive attitude on the estate.

The same evening residents met at Breckland Council offices for an update on the issues as part of the police-led community action group.

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Insp Walsh, who retires in two weeks, said 'We have been out a lot. One officer has clocked up 80 miles in a week cycling around.

'Police have been on the busses around the estate at key times, like school closing time.'

He said they have also been working with private land lords and letting agents to ensure tenants comply with the terms and conditions of their contracts - which include not behaving anti-socially.

A letter has been written to tenants warning them about bad behaviour and a notice to quit the property has been served on one home, he said.

A survey of the estate is to be carried out to see if improvements can be made through landscaping and street lighting or even closing off alleyways.

In total there had been seven crime files submitted to the CPS directly relating to incidents on the Toftwood estate, said Insp Walsh.

On top of that there have been files submitted relating to peripheral issues on the estate and further files over incidents elsewhere by people from the estate.

He said part of the problem police had faced was identifying individuals and linking them to specific crimes.

Without enough proof they cannot get the cases through the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute.

One case against an individual was heard by magistrates last month, but a witness was unable to attend, for personal reasons and the case had to be dropped, he said.

In one instance magistrates decided not to take any action against an incident involving snow boarding.

He said they would also be visiting people who had called about problems since the New Year to see if they could gather more evidence, but that this would take more than a week, he said.

The youth street briefing will be on April 2. To attract youths there will be an ice-cream van, Kiss FM and a raffle of Easter Eggs alongside organisations including Victim Support, Peddars Way Housing, a youth representative from Breckland Council and Breckland Pride.

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