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Police called after abuse to National Trust staff on Suffolk countryside

PUBLISHED: 19:00 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:19 21 April 2020

Sutton Hoo Picture: NATIONAL TRUST IMAGES/JUSTIN MINNS

Sutton Hoo Picture: NATIONAL TRUST IMAGES/JUSTIN MINNS

©National Trust Images/Justin Minns

National Trust rangers have had to call in Suffolk Police after two incidents at their Suffolk sites from people abusing access to public rights of way across their land as part of their permitted daily access during the lockdown.

There are public rights of way at Sutton Hoo - but they can only be used by people who can walk to the site.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThere are public rights of way at Sutton Hoo - but they can only be used by people who can walk to the site. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

But the vast majority of people have been following the rules and generally only a tiny proportion of usual visitors have been visiting Trust land in East Suffolk during the lockdown.

Nick Collinson manages the Trust properties at Sutton Hoo, Dunwich Heath and Orfordness – and said some staff were continuing to work through the lockdown.

“We have our rangers working and maintaining a presence on our sites all the time. That is very important for us. We need their presence for security because there are public rights of way across our land which have to be kept open.

“They can be used by local people for their daily exercise – although the guidelines say you should not drive to take exercise so our car parks are shut. The vast majority of people we see are obeying those rules but there have been a couple of occasions when we have had to call the police because people were abusive to staff.”

Nick Collinson, the National Trust's general manager for east SuffolkNick Collinson, the National Trust's general manager for east Suffolk

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He said that recently rangers had challenged a group who were riding mountain bikes and creating a track. When they were challenged they became abusive and the police were called.

Mr Collinson said staff were continuing to monitor the wildlife – and he said it would be interesting to see what the impact of fewer people during the breeding season had on the natural world.

There were also staff looking after livestock on its land – a shepherd was caring for the sheep at Sutton Hoo.

Sutton Hoo is closed but there are public rights of way through the site people can use for exercise  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSutton Hoo is closed but there are public rights of way through the site people can use for exercise Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Trust had had to furlough some staff – but it was staying in regular contact with them and with its volunteers.

And communication generally was very important: “We are trying to tell people what is happening at our sites. I think one thing that this crisis is showing people is how important open spaces like we have here is to them.

“We are supporting all the government measures and don’t know how long this will go on. But we will reopen, I am sure people will come back in even greater numbers. I cannot wait to get something from the Dunwich cafe again!”


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