Crackdown on Halloween spirits

A multi-agency crackdown on Halloween and Bonfire Night-related crime is set to be rolled out across Breckland following its success within the district's biggest market town.

A multi-agency crackdown on Halloween and Bonfire Night-related crime is set to be rolled out across Breckland following its success within the district's biggest market town.

Operation Dampened Spirits was launched in Thetford five years ago to tackle illegal fires and antisocial behaviour in the town.

Now the initiative involving police, firefighters, Breckland Council, and Trading Standards officers has been launched across the district to deter young people from getting into trouble during the half term holidays.

The scheme, which saw the number of arson-related callouts in Thetford reduce by more than half last year, aims to target known offenders and hot spots before they affect local residents.

Police will be increasing patrols across Breckland's towns over the Halloween and fireworks night period and officers will be working with retailers to restrict the sale of flour and eggs to youngsters.

'Do Not Disturb' posters will be distributed to householders who do not wish to be involved in trick or treating and Trading Standards and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service officers will be visiting fireworks retailers to ensure they are following the letter of the law and are not selling fireworks to under 18s.

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Breckland Insp Adam Hayes from Norfolk Police said: “The main intentions of the Dampened Spirits operation will be to promote a positive and reassuring message to our communities that we will be targeting those individuals who may seek to cause misery to local residents through unwanted trick or treat visits, antisocial behaviour and misuse of fireworks.”

In Thetford, firefighters working will continue to work with Breckland Council officers to perform bonfire checks and police will be on hand to ensure there are no public order problems.

Sgt Steve Burke from the Thetford Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “In recent years the Halloween period has been relatively problem free in Thetford but it is felt that the combination of it falling on a Friday night during half-term means that some youths may think it will be a good opportunity to cause anti-social behaviour.

“Local police will be working closely with partner agencies to ensure the local community have a safe Halloween and Bonfire Night,” he said.

Paul Seaman, local risk manager for Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Dampened Spirits has become a well established community project that has proved extremely successful in reducing the number of calls made to the fire service over the Bonfire period.

“By working closely with our partner agencies, we are able to offer advice to members of the local community who wish to hold their own bonfire related activities.”