Bus stop rape link investigated after Cromer disorder

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The victim was attacked at a bus stop in Cadogan Road, close to Cromer seafront

A man has been arrested over the rape of a woman in Cromer, with police saying they are looking at links with disorder in the town on Saturday night.

The teenage victim was attacked at a bus stop in Cadogan Road, near the seafront, late on Friday.

On Saturday night, venues in the seaside town closed their doors due to thefts and anti-social behaviour.

Norfolk Police said a man in his 30s had been detained in Essex on suspicion of rape.

The force said new evidence meant it was exploring the possibility of links between the attack and disorder in Cromer over the weekend.

Police previously said they were not linking the rape and the later trouble in the town.

Image caption,
Cromer Pier's Theatre Bar was one of the venues to shut its doors

On Saturday night, a BBC reporter was told by a taxi driver that "travellers are rampaging the town", and staff at The Wellington pub said they closed after a group of 30 travellers became "rowdy".

The disorder, described by police as "low level", was linked by residents on social media to travellers who had arrived in the town on Friday.

Image caption,
Cromer's Chamber of Trade and Business said companies lost "thousands of pounds of trade"

Norfolk Police Deputy Chief Constable Nick Dean said earlier on Monday that officers were treating the weekend's disorder "seriously".

He did not comment on who he thought was to blame for the disturbances and thefts, but said it would be "totally disproportionate" to blame the whole travelling community.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick said the council served a notice on Saturday for the travellers to leave.

Trouble in Cromer

18 August:

  • Police were called to five thefts, three from shops and two from local pubs where drinks were taken and not paid for.
  • At about 23:30 BST, police were called to Cromer Social Club following reports a large group were there and refused to leave when asked. The group left when asked by police.

19 August:

  • Police received reports of shoplifting and "low-level" anti-social behaviour in the Cromer area.
  • At about 17:00, officers were called to a pub after a large group of people refused to leave. Officers arrived and the group left.
  • Officers were called at about 19:15 after reports people had taken drinks from a restaurant on Prince of Wales Road without paying. Police attended and drinks were either paid for or returned.
  • Shortly after 20:50 police were called to a private bar at a caravan park following reports a large group had entered and refused to leave when asked by the manager. Officers spoke to the group who then left.

The local MP Norman Lamb says he was disturbed by the description of the disorder as "low level" by police and questioned the failure to arrest anyone.

"I want to meet with the chief constable to hear his account, to see why they described it as they did and also the way they responded," he said.

Stallholders in Cromer told BBC Look East they felt intimidated as the travellers moved round the town looking for food and drink.

Ice cream seller Lee Sales said: "There may not be fights or anything like that but when it's intimidation creating fear - that's bad."

Image caption,
Laurie Scott said an employee from another cafe was shaking like a leaf when confronting hungry travellers

Laurie Scott of Breakers Café said an employee from another cafe was confronted on the doorstep by a crowd who wanted to get in and get food.

They were using foul language when entry was refused and the manager believed they had been drinking.

"He's a big, burly fellow like me and he faced them down but told me he was shaking like a leaf at the time.

"There's a lot of anger across the town that this was allowed to happen."

Image caption,
Ayrun Nessa suffered a bruise on her arm preventing a crowd of women getting into her restaurant

Ayrun Nessa, wife of the owner of the Masala Twist restaurant, said bottles were flying around and she was left with a painful bruise on her arm trying to prevent the crowd getting in.

She said she had been confronted at the door by six women shouting abuse.

"Cromer is normally a quiet and calm place with lovely people, but this was something else," she said.

Police said the travellers had left the county and were thought to be in Colchester, Peterborough and London.

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