Calls to police soar during traveller festival

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 September 2013

Follow-up to the Christian traveller festival

Follow-up to the Christian traveller festival

Archant

CALLS to police during a Christian traveller festival rose dramatically, despite authorities insisting there were 'minimal problems'.

Five thousand Christian travellers attended the Light of Life festival in Hewish from July 19-25. Residents at the time complained of having no warning before 700 caravans came to the site to celebrate the event.

Statistics, secured from police through a Mercury Freedom Of Information request, show only one call log was opened the weekend prior to the festival.

On July 18-21, the weekend of the festival, 18 call logs were opened by the police from the village. The weekend after, on July 25-28, 11 logs were opened.

The police, council and environmental agency all said the festival went well, despite the clear increase in calls to the emergency service.

Days after the festival, a police spokesperson said: “It went okay, there was some minor complaints dealt with satisfactorily.

“There were minimal problems. Everything went well.”

Since being made aware of the statistics, Chief Inspector Alex Cohen said: “Any event which draws large crowds and increases the population of a small town or village could result in more calls to the police. This does not necessarily mean more crime has been committed.

“Not all calls the police receive are to report a crime in progress.

“There are many other factors to consider, for example if it is a holiday weekend we may receive more calls in relation to traffic incidents.”

Speaking days after the event, a North Somerset Council spokesperson said: “This was a private event held on private land. Since the festival finished we haven’t had any reports of unauthorised encampments in the area and there have been no problems with litter and rubbish on our verges and roads.”

After the event the Environment Agency said: “We were aware some people were urinating in the nearby water courses.

“We did some checks at the water courses and we are quite confident it hasn’t had a huge environmental impact so if cattle drank it they would be fine.

“It would seem the organisers did quite a good clearing up operation to be fair.”

Ward councillor for Hewish and Puxton, Ian Porter, said: “There were two events on that weekend, another one at Banwell. Lots of the complaints were about the rave, the noise they could hear from that.

“But I think the most worrying bit out of all of it was just the volume of people, the intimidation of the sheer influx into the village.

“There have been a few issues and a few have been sorted already by the police. As far as I’m aware there were no complaints about theft or anything like that.”

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