Coastal: Booze, boredom and drugs – three of the reasons behind vandalism in Suffolk Coastal
10:45 23 March 2014
Alcohol, drugs, boredom, and peer pressure have been identified as the key factors in incidents of vandalism caused by young people across the Suffolk Coastal area.
Following initial research into problems suffered by some towns and villages, community leaders are to draw up plans to tackle vandals – and look at new ways to keep youngsters focussed on other activities.
Councillors Les Binns, Peter Coleman and Terry Eastman carried out the research, linking with a variety of organisations and groups.
Questionnaires were sent to town and parish councils, the Police and Crime Commissioner, youth forums in Felixstowe and Kesgrave, headteachers of primary schools and sixth forms at several high schools, Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and victims of vandalism.
Reporting on the work so far, Phillip Dunnett, chairman of the council’s scrutiny committee, said it was intended to make the review as wide-ranging as possible, considering what more might be done to prevent vandalism but also examining the extent of incidents in urban and rural communities, their causes and effects.
He said statistics indicated that the district experiences fewer incidents of vandalism than other areas.
Mr Dunnett said: “Some respondents to the letter were not aware of any vandalism in their area, though it was also evident that some locations experience more incidents than others.
“There appears to be a link to the night-time economy, with the majority of offences occurring during Friday and Saturday nights and on into the early hours of the morning. Other offences appeared to occur predominantly at the end of the school day and during school holidays.
“The member working group finds that evidence indicates vandalism to be linked to alcohol, drugs, boredom, and peer pressure.”
Felixstowe suffered most vandalism – with the seafront often targeted, creating a bad impression for visitors.
Mr Dunnett said: “The responses received generally – and not unsurprisingly – and demonstrate irritation, distress and a direct impact on quality of life.
“It is considered that the economy of the district may also be impacted upon if visitors and tourists feel sites of beauty are being spoiled.
“Similarly, the costs of repairs or replacement of items of public property may need to come from council budgets.”
While there were a number of projects to change anti-social behaviour running across the district and reports suggesting a “significant reduction” in rowdy and/or inconsiderate behaviour over the last year, more still could be done.
Ideas being considered included more school activities, graffiti walls to accommodate ‘artistic’ expression, youth shelters, and increased use of CCTV or webcams, and a report outlining action to be taken will be published in May.