Ipswich mum hits out at police

SHUNNED by shopkeepers and "let down" by the police, Julie Keys today spoke out against the lawless society that rules in an area of east Ipswich.She spoke out as police and fire investigators were counting the cost of another night of trouble on the Gainsborough estate.

SHUNNED by shopkeepers and "let down" by the police, Julie Keys today spoke out against the lawless society that rules in an area of east Ipswich.

She spoke out as police and fire investigators were counting the cost of another night of trouble on the Gainsborough estate.

The 44-year-old was visiting the Queen's Way shops when she witnessed a group of thugs jumping up and down on the bonnet of a car.

Natural instinct told her to call the police, but she claims an officer told her it was the "wrong" thing to do.

When the group of around seven youths realised what she was doing, they started hurling a volley of abuse and objects at her, including a plastic bottle.

This proved to be the final straw for the mother of two, who decided to get out of her car to confront the yobs.

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She said: "I know I probably shouldn't have done it, but I got out and said 'what was the point of that?'

"Then I got a load of abuse and threats. One said: 'If you were a bloke, I'd smash your face in and your windows'."

Four police officers arrived at the scene soon after and Mrs Keys said: "One of the officers said to me: 'You know what you did wrong? You phoned the police.'

"I was astounded and I felt let down. It was a bit tongue in cheek but I said 'I'm sorry but I'm not going to sit in my car while they do that'."

She also questioned the policing of unruly youngsters in the area and said: "The policeman who arrived had this softly, softly approach and I honestly don't think they're doing enough.

"They're trying to keep on the good side of these boys but the boys aren't scared. It's like gangs rule that area.

"By the time the officer had finished getting my details, the youngsters had been able to get away."

She also criticised shopkeepers and passers-by in the area at the time of the incident.

"I actually saw the shopkeepers shutting their doors when it was happening, she said. "They were wrecking this car in broad daylight and nobody was doing anything about it.

"I was a woman on my own and no one helped me. Perhaps that's how they live up there."

Inspector Andy Solomon, of Suffolk police, said the force takes reports of crime and disorder very seriously and intend to tackle these kinds of problems.

"We're aware there have been recent reports in the Gainsborough area and we would encourage the public to continue to report these problems to us so we know what's happening in the area and can take the appropriate action," he said.

He added any complaints about the conduct of police officers would be investigated and he offered to discuss the matter with her.

Meanwhile overnight went on the rampage in Ipswich and deliberately started four fires in less than two hours.

The culprits kept firefighters on their toes and were playing a cruel game of cat and mouse.

As soon as one fire had been extinguished and the crew had left the scene, another blaze was ignited minutes later and the pattern continued.

Undergrowth, tyres and a car were all set on fire in an area of Landseer Park yesterday evening, near to the BMX track.

The drama first unfolded at 8.23pm when one crew from Princes Street were called to 50 square metres of grass alight. While the crew were dousing the flames with water, a second 999 call was received to a number of tyres on fire in another area of the park.

A second fire crew from Princes Street was scrambled at 8.40pm and it took firefighters 12 minutes to put the flaming tyres out.

Exactly 20 minutes after crews had left the scene, the firebugs proceeded to cause havoc and set fire to a car, again in Landseer Park. One crew from Princes Street attended and put the blaze out in 15 minutes.

Having left their mark on the park, it is believed the same group of ten to 15 boys who were seen at each of the fires, made the short walk to The Lairs, Sandy Hill Lane.

A 50 metre area of grass was set alight at just before 10pm and one crew from Princes Street again attended the incident.

Leading firefighter Tony Bickers, based at Princes Street, said: "We attended four suspicious fires in the same area of the town.

"We would urge the people responsible to think twice before deliberately starting fires.

"While we are tied up dealing with these incidents which can be avoided, we may be prevented from dealing with other people who are in real danger."

Also at the weekend a phone box and bus shelter in Fore Hamlet had their windows smashed.

All four fires are being treated as suspicious and police would like to hear from anyone who has information relating to these incidents to call Ipswich police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

nWhat do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or join the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

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