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Fed up Haverhill business owners call on police to do more to stop 'escalating' anti-social behaviour

Shopkeepers in a Haverhill square say their businesses are being affected by daily incidents of anti-social behaviour and want the police to do more to help them.

The problems in Queen’s Square came to a head on Monday when business owners there discovered a fir tree had been pulled up from a planter and thrown into the Stour Brook.

Although the incident in itself was not a major one, Dave Ellis, who owns Ellis Interiors with his wife Jane, said it has taken everyone in the square to the point of saying ‘enough is enough.’

David Ellis (Ellis Interiors) and Sarah Rutter (Nicom IT Services) in Queens Square. PICTURE: Mecha Morton.
David Ellis (Ellis Interiors) and Sarah Rutter (Nicom IT Services) in Queens Square. PICTURE: Mecha Morton.

Mr Ellis said: “We are seeing it day in day out.

“It’s got to a level now, and we are not exaggerating, when every single day there’s an incident.

“How can we, on one hand be asked by our local community to provide shops and provide resources and a welcoming feel to the town when you know the high streets are struggling and all the businesses are doing their best to pay their rates and keep their business together and all these things are kicking off.

“There’s been an escalation, certainly in the past year. It’s getting worse.”

Mr Ellis, along with Sue Vallis, owner of The Craft Basket, and Sarah Rutter, who along with husband Nick runs Nicom IT Services, all spoke to the Echo about numerous incidents outside their premises, which they all said are impacting on their business.

Mrs Vallis said: “There is swearing and abuse and my customers don’t want to walk past that.

“The fighting and swearing and language is terrible.

“They (youths) stand out on a wall and see how far they can spit into puddles. It’s just gross.”

Mr Ellis said human excrement and vomit are cleared up from the square on a regular basis and there is frequent drinking of alcohol in what is, by law, an alcohol-free zone.

The trio said there is also drug taking, harassment of some passers-by, footballs being kicked against the buildings and milkshakes thrown about.

Mr Ellis added: “We’ve reported incidents time and again to the police. We will ring 101 and hear nothing, email the Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) and get no reply. Occasionally an officer might turn up a few days later.

“I got a visit from a PC and our PCSO. I said ‘I know resources are tight but as local businesses and residents we look around the town and we see that there’s a lack of officers and a lack of police visibility’.

“How can the fourth largest town, by population, in Suffolk, have the policing level, social level and county level of support that we have. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Rowan Saunders, Acting Sergeant for the SNT in Haverhill, said: “We constantly review all crime being reported to us to ensure we deploy our resources effectively based on threat, harm, risk and the investigative opportunities presented to us, and we will always endeavour to respond effectively, prioritising crime in progress or danger to people.

“Police have recently received several reports relating to anti-social behaviour and associated issues in the vicinity of Queen’s Square.

“Officers from the SNT have been carrying out targeted patrols to tackle street drinking and related anti-social behaviour. Community Protection Warning Letters and Community Protection Notices have been issued and police continue to work with the business community and members of the public to address the issues involved head-on.

“We will take robust action against those involved.

“Anybody with any concerns should contact the SNT.

“We are also exceptionally grateful for the valuable role that the public play in being vigilant and reporting any signs of suspicious behaviour.”

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