Disillusion may feed vandalism

INCREASING levels of vandalism in a Suffolk market town could be the result of the deep disillusionment felt by its young people, it was claimed today.

INCREASING levels of vandalism in a Suffolk market town could be the result of the deep disillusionment felt by its young people, it was claimed today.

Woodbridge residents have been shocked by the growing number of criminal damage incidents in recent weeks, with former mayor Mac Miles claiming it has become "a weekend sport."

But many people fear it is a backlash from youths who feel they are not being listened to.

Malcolm Knapp, project leader at the Just 42 youth organisation, believes there is a lack of understanding for young people's issues in the town.

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He said: "The biggest problem we've got in this area is with communication. Every thing is looked at with an adult's perception.

"If the adults want to start talking to the young people about vandalism, they've got to start talking on young people's terms.

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"A lot of the vandalism is the only way young people know how to get their message across."

Andrew Hedger, 17, a modern apprenticeship student at Just 42 agrees. He said: "I don't think young people do get listened to, and when they do, it's usually just a way of shutting them up.

"A good example is the skate park - it's taken three years to get to where we are today, and that's a long time for people to have to wait."

Many residents, including former mayor Mac Miles, have called on police to step up their presence in the town centre.

Mr Miles was stunned when his car was set alight on Saturday morning.

He said: "My personal feeling is that we need more bobbies on the beat. We need more and better policing and, although we do not know who did this, we need better education from parents."

Woodbridge police sector commander Insp Ben Cook said: "As far as the criminal damage goes we are providing additional patrols to crack down on it but the difficulty is that it takes place over such a widespread area."

Insp Cook said he is aware of the feeling of discontent among some of the town's young people.

"We are working hard to try to provide better youth provision, an example being the skate park which is due to be open by the end of the summer.

"Along with other organisations in the town we are looking at how best to communicate with the young people so that they are aware these things are being done."

N What do you think should be done to stop the vandalism? Are you a young person in Woodbridge who feels they are not being listened to? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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