Lancashire

Traveller arrests vow over 'trashed' Thwaites Brewery

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Media captionChief Constable Andy Rhodes apologised for not acting sooner

A group of about 100 travellers who "trashed" a brewery causing about £100,000 of damage will "not get off scot-free", promised a chief constable.

It follows criticisms of the police by Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn, Lancashire, and the town's MP Kate Hollern, for the lack of arrests.

Lancashire Constabulary's Andy Rhodes apologised for not acting sooner when the group moved in on Saturday, before leaving on Monday.

He said: "Arrests will be made."

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Media captionThwaites said it had been "effectively evicted" from its head office

The chief constable said there were not enough officers to arrest 100 people on a "mega busy bank holiday weekend".

He said: "You do not want to be battling with people in large numbers when there are children present... and people at the site... and the property was at risk."

Other incidents including a mental health patient in Blackburn who had escaped with a knife took priority, he added.

Image caption Thwaites criticised the police for not acting sooner to get the group off the site
Image caption Thwaites said the brewery was left a "disgusting mess"

The travellers left on Monday after negotiations and an "aggressive stand-off" with police.

Thwaites said the site, which dates back to 1807, was left in a "disgusting mess" and it had to pour away 1,700 pints of beer in case of contamination.

Chief executive Richard Bailey criticised police for taking until Monday to eject the group.

Image caption No arrests have been made in relation to the incident

Harry Brunt, a brewer at Thwaites, said it was "absolutely disgusting" not one person was arrested.

Mr Rhodes said the force was gathering evidence from police body camera footage and the brewery and the "long arm of the law" would find those responsible.

Henry Chapman, secretary of the Gypsy and Traveller Coalition, said the actions of this "small minority unfortunately tarred the rest of the community with the same brush".

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