Residents have recalled the “shocking” moment that police swarmed a city estate following reports of youths starting fires and causing criminal damage. Officers were first alerted to concerns around Tower Avenue in Lincoln at 5.40pm on Sunday, November 5.
Police say that officers had fireworks thrown at them upon arrival and had to temporarily pull back to maintain officer safety. A bolstered team then re-entered the area, along with the fire service, to extinguish the fires which were all put out by around 10.15pm.
It is thought that a group of around 30 people were involved as the incident unfolded over the course of a couple of hours and a 24-hour dispersal order was put in place until 6.30pm on Monday, November 6. One person has been arrested in relation to alleged public order offences and there will be a heightened police presence in the area for the next few days.
Councillor Clare Smalley, leader of the Lib Dem group on City of Lincoln Council, said that the scenes on Tower Estate were “shocking but sadly not surprising after a recent surge in anti-social behaviour”. She added: “Garden fence panels allegedly stolen for firewood, a bonfire in the play area and fireworks being thrown at responding police officers – with local residents left terrified.
“Anti-social behaviour needs stamping out of Lincoln. But to do that our local police teams need support. Neighbourhood officers are in short supply after a decade of neglect by the Conservative Government and the impact of that is being felt across the city.
“People in Lincoln, from Tower Estate to Glebe Park, need more local officers, faster response times and city council serious about tackling ASB so that the yobs blighting our city can be dealt with properly.”
One resident, Maisy Baker, 19, said: “It happens every year, last year just wasn’t as bad.” A resident who reported the incident to the police, and wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I’ve been here a year and don’t know anyone on this estate. I want to move now.
“I had to give them a little bit of wood so they didn’t attack my house. They told me if I didn’t give them anything, they would just take what they wanted and we would be a target.”
They added: “This estate doesn’t get any firework displays, but everywhere else does. If someone put one on, kids wouldn’t have to go stealing fence panels.”
Another resident, Tamara Wray, shared similar sentiments. She said: “If they actually did something here like they do with most places, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
The 30-year-old added: “There was no need for the police drone, three fire engines and two riot vans. It gets out of hand.”
Another resident said: “I saw flashing lights down here and not much else. It sounded like chaos. I thought I’d better stay out the way.”
One man, who lives near Tower Avenue, admitted it wasn’t uncommon to see a police presence in the area. He said: “I didn’t see much of what went on but I know that a load of fence panels were nicked. It’s not uncommon to see police down here.”
Lincolnshire Police Superintendent, Philip Baker, said: “We are acutely aware that people will have felt very frightened last night, and may have wondered why we were not immediately on scene. We want to help you understand our decision-making so you can feel assured that your safety is a priority for us.
“Our number one priority is to always protect people, and that includes our officers and other emergency services. There were no reports of people being injured or otherwise assaulted, and we were monitoring incidents carefully while officers trained to deal with such disorder were assembled. While this would have been very concerning for people living in the area, we needed to make decisions based on the risk – at this point, risk to property, and not people.
“We moved in as soon as we were able and swiftly dealt with the threats. If there were reports of people being injured, our offices would have stepped in and put themselves at risk to protect our community as they do each day. We want to thank our local community for the resilience they have shown, and we join them in the absolute disgust at the actions of those committing offences last night.”
A spokesperson for Lincolnshire Police said: “The investigation into this incident is in its early stages and work is underway to establish the exact circumstances. If you have any information which you think might help the enquiry please contact us on 101, quoting incident 324 of 05/11/2023, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”