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'Work with us to combat crime'

PUBLISHED: 09:46 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:56 08 July 2010

Police have urged councillors in Watton to work with them in a bid to crack down on rowdy behaviour following an increase in crime.

Inspector Ady Porter said officers dealt with 19 incidents of anti-social behaviour in town in the last month.

Police have urged councillors in Watton to work with them in a bid to crack down on rowdy behaviour following an increase in crime.

Inspector Ady Porter said officers dealt with 19 incidents of anti-social behaviour in town in the last month.

Speaking at the town council meeting on Tuesday last week, he blamed the increase on the closure of the town's youth club whose aim was to take youngsters off the streets.

A row erupted following the disclosures and councillors insisted they had not been made aware of the closure.

“The council lets out the youth centre free of charge to Norfolk County Youth Services who run a youth club there every Monday evening,” said Jacqui Seal, town clerk.

“As we do not invoice them, we do not keep any tabs on their activities. However, it would have been helpful if they had told us they were going to close the youth club, so we could let the property to someone else,” she added.

“It came as a shock to us to hear that crime has gone up in Watton. We all wondered how that was possible.”

Insp Porter said police relied on the support of the community and the council to crack down on “a minority of rowdy teenagers” who commit offences.

“Since the club closed down we have had an increase in crime in Watton,” he said.

Insp Porter admitted the council were working to bring in new facilities to take youngsters off the street and help them focus on a wide range of useful activities.

Councillors and businessmen in Watton are currently involved in a major scheme - Project Rainbow - to convert a former doctors' surgery into a drop-in centre and build a new indoor sports facility for youngsters. However, the drop-in centre is not expected to until the end of the summer break.

But he added: “We are aware that there is a lot of interest in this town to create youth clubs for teenagers who have nowhere to go. However, we are concerned with the crime which is likely to be committed in the meantime. We are asking for the full support from the council.”

“There is a minority group of 14 to 17 year-olds who dabble with alcohol and who lack parental guidance at home who engage in anti-social behaviour. We're very keen to help these kids in particular.”

Last night a spokesman for Norfolk County Council which deals with children services said: “We are very sorry that we have had to temporarily close Watton Youth Club, but we currently have insufficient numbers of staff to run the club, following the promotion of one of our youth workers to a new role elsewhere in the county. We hope to appoint a replacement youth support worker in the very near future and once this happens, we will look to re-open the youth club as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, we're in the process of planning a programme of summer activities, which will be advertised around the town, open to all young people of high school age across the Wayland area.”

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