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School hit by crime spree

PUBLISHED: 18:37 08 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 March 2010

JOY riders ran rampage through the grounds of a special school in Suffolk today leaving staff feeling under siege as they struggle to cope with a catalogue of crime plaguing the area.

JOY riders ran rampage through the grounds of a special school in Suffolk today leaving staff feeling under siege as they struggle to cope with a catalogue of crime plaguing the area.

Police were called to Belstead Special School, in Ipswich, in the early hours following a report that the school gates had been damaged.

Head teacher David Stewart said that it appeared joy riders had entered the school campus through Chantry Sports Centre car park, ramming down a metal chain link fence and concrete gate posts before cutting through the school grounds and demolishing an exit gate.

"It's a nightmare for us, half term is coming up and we have no security so we have to worry about leaving the school when there is nobody about," said Mr Stewart.

"This year we have really felt under siege. All we are trying to do is our best in a community with some very needy kids and some very needy families and we constantly find ourselves under attack."

At the start of the school term windows of a new inclusive resource centre at were smashed. The centre, which will provide an outreach service for pupils at mainstream schools with autism, is expected to open in March.

Just before Christmas thieves tried to steal computer equipment from a new design and technology building on the site in Stone Lodge Lane West and prior to that staff were plagued by a spate of thefts from cars parked in the area.

Mr Stewart said that despite insurance, criminal activity was costing the school hundreds of pounds because the excess on the policy amounts to £250 every time a claim.

The school has paid out £1,000 to date – the equivalent of one year's budget for a foundation subject, he said.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said that officers were called to the scene shortly before 1am today. Two gates had appeared to be rammed and there were tyre marks across Belstead Special School and the playing field of Chantry High School, she said.

There was no sign of where the vehicle had entered.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Pc Becky Adams on 01473 613500.

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