See it? Report it! Help to prevent vandalism in Diss
15 July 2022
Diss Town Council is working in partnership with the Police, District Council, local high school and MTM Youth Services CIC to see what more can be done to tackle the increase in anti-social behaviour around the town.
In the last 3 months alone, the newly opened ancient walkway at the back of the Diss Youth & Community Centre has been vandalised and there has been considerable damage in some cases on multiple occasions to the boardwalk and gardens, toilets, litter bin on Mere’s Mouth and play equipment on Diss Park.
These are assets and amenities that have been paid for either by residents through their Council tax, grants and / or through the generosity of volunteers and local organisations donating time and money. Any damage has to be repaired either by Town Council staff, contractors or volunteers, which wastes unnecessary resources which could be better put towards other projects in the town.
At a meeting with the local Police Inspector and Sergeant, District Councillors and representatives of Diss High School and MTM Youth Services CIC, it was agreed that this is a social issue which needs involvement from everyone in the community.
Norfolk Constabulary requires appropriate evidence to act. This relies on any witnesses reporting the incidents. The most effective and quickest way to do this is through the online reporting tool. The form takes no more than 10 minutes to complete, can be anonymous and will provide the Police with the information they require to act as it leads the reporter through a series of questions. We often hear that witnesses don’t have the time to report or they do not wish to for fear of recrimination. We encourage you to please report any non-emergency incidents through this channel.
Sergeant James Butler says, “Diss Safer Neighbourhood Team is aware of the current concerns around anti-social behaviour and vandalism in the town centre. We are working closely with the town council and other partners, including those within the youth services team, to explore different ways of tackling the problem. We all have a part to play in making sure Diss remains a safe place to live, work and visit and I encourage the community to report any incidents of anti-social behaviour or crimes to us. It is really important that we understand what is happening in the area and we rely on reports from the community to know where to focus our attention.
“Reporting incidents can be done in many ways. Our website has an online report form and a live chat with a member of staff, and there are the traditional routes of calling the non-emergency number on 101 or 999 if an emergency (for instance, if a crime or incident is occurring in front of you). If you have any information regarding the current issues in Diss you can let us know by emailing the team or anonymously contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or via their online reporting tool.”
CCTV is also essential to helping the Police. The Town Council has been investing in improving the CCTV coverage across the sites it owns. There are now cameras at the Sports Ground, the DYCC building is equipped (although unfortunately this wouldn’t pick up the recent damage to the walkway given its hidden location) and there are works scheduled to improve the town centre system as well as the Park.
We know that there is a minority of young people, amongst others, in the community who are involved in this vandalism and work is being undertaken to hold them to account. But we need the local community’s help to ensure that these few individuals do not spoil those facilities and amenities that we are lucky to have in Diss.
This is a view echoed by District councillor Minshull who says, “Any form of vandalism or anti-social behaviour is totally unacceptable, and we must all work together to stop this sort of thing from happening. The damage is being caused by a very small minority, but their actions impact on all of
us and must be stopped. I would ask anyone who has any information to report what they know through one of the many routes available.”
We are working with MTM Youth Services CIC to extend the youth support provision for Diss. Engaging young people in positive projects that they want to get involved in should enable them to take pride in what they’ve achieved and increase the chances of the area being more respected. One youth led activity that has been suggested is a pod graffiti project (i.e. the youth shelter next to the Multi Use Games Area on the Park).
The Parish Fields Friends volunteers have spent hours bringing the ancient walkway at the rear of the DYCC accessed via the footpath along the health centre back to life with information boards, signage, new trees and animal footprints. The quiet bench (installed just before the official Jubilee Walk opening on 3rd June) that provided an opportunity to appreciate the views over Parish Fields was recklessly pulled apart (see photo). The local craftsman who put it together is trying to add further security measures so that it can again be enjoyed by local people and visitors alike.
The boardwalk and gardens situated behind the Council Offices off Market Hill cost thousands in Heritage Lottery grant funding to install. The list of damage is devastating with boards being pulled away from the wooden platforms, burn marks, graffiti over the benches and boards, cut wires and the lock on the boardwalk gates has been vandalised beyond repair.
The toilets on Mere’s Mouth as well as the Park are frequently treated with disrespect, the most common issue being getting as much toilet roll to block the toilets as possible. This results in the closure of the toilets whilst they are unblocked or repaired and complaints that they are closed. Sometimes contractors are not able to immediately attend.
Report anonymously - Please report a non-emergency anti-social behaviour online by visiting https://www.norfolk.police.uk/contact-us/6-report-it/08-anti-social-behaviour so we can all enjoy the fantastic place Diss is.