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Newmarket's MP Matt Hancock pledges to lobby home secretary to tackle town crime

Newmarket MP Matt Hancock has pledged to lobby the Home Secretary to look at the possibility of changes in the law to help police tackle the anti-social behaviour which has blighted the town for several weeks.

At a meeting arranged by Newmarket Business Improvement District (BID) manager Graham Philpot, which was also attended by Newmarket police inspector Mark Shipton, Mr Hancock said he would also work with the Home Office and Suffolk Police to make sure some of the 20,000 extra officers promised across the country by Prime Minister Boris Johnson were deployed to the county.

After the meeting, Mr Philpot said: “We fundamentally welcome Matt Hancock’s commitment to review and potentially modify existing legislation to tackle anti-social behaviour in town centres and if we have played a small part as a catalyst for change across the UK we should be particularly pleased with our efforts.”

Matt Hancock Picture Mark Westley (16856207)
Matt Hancock Picture Mark Westley (16856207)

The meeting was called in the wake of increasing frustration by BID members and town retailers over police action to deal with alleged criminal and anti-social behaviour by a gang of youths in The Guineas shopping centre and the High Street, who one town hotel owner described as ‘feral’.

The problem was highlighted by a report in the Newmarket Journal on August 15 when BID chairman Di Robertshaw said members were angry about abusive behaviour and vandalism which was affecting their trade and damaging their properties.

It was alleged that youths had been involved in serious assaults, started a fire in a High Street store’s loading bay, smashed a shop window and been verbally abusive to shoppers and shop staff.

At the end of last month, in response to alleged renewed threats made by youths to one of The Guineas centre’s security staff, officials implemented a community trigger, a letter of complaint to West Suffolk Council which expressed dissatisfaction with police response and called for an urgent meeting.

“It is not something which is done lightly and the council and police listened and did something,” said Mr Philpot.