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Hallowe'en high spirits in Taunton
HALLOWE’EN in Taunton, Wellington and West Somerset proved more a case of high spirits than a fright night.
The County Gazette braved the witches and ghouls on the streets of the county town to get a police perspective on what has become one of their busiest nights of the year.
6.30pm: During a briefing at Taunton police station, we’re told rest days have been cancelled and an ‘exceptional’ level of police cover – up to 40 officers in Taunton – has been rostered. There’s one person already in the cells sobering up.
7pm: Police are on patrol on the streets of Priorswood but the only horror story is for local dentists – officers are joining the trick-or-treat fun by handing out lollies to costumed trick-or-treaters who are shepherded by watchful parents. Two of them, John Stamford and Sanger Martin tell the County Gazette: “It’s a bit of harmless fun and people have been very friendly tonight. Older kids take it a bit too far and spoil it for the younger ones.”
7.10pm: Keeping an eye on another colourful band of witches and ghosts nearby are Sheena Beckhurst and Nicci Court. They say householders have been welcoming: “It’s been fabulous and we’ve had a fantastic response. A few people have been driving round a bit too fast and it’s more the older ones who take it too far.”
7.17pm: Back in the patrol car, word comes through that there are 15 ongoing call-outs across the district, which includes Taunton, Wellington, Minehead, Bridgwater and Burnham – not unusual for a Saturday night. Among them is an alert in Burnham where ten 15-year-olds are lobbing eggs at a house.
7.30pm: At the Comeytrowe Centre in Galmington, Sgt Charlie Gear says they’ve met a group of girls in fancy dress who were in good spirits and more lollies are handed out. He predicts problems later in the evening once older troublemakers start to feel the effects of alcohol.
7.49pm: Just off Roman Road, Halcon, Taunton Deane Council’s clean up van – which is dealing with eggs and flour thrown at buildings - is spotted but it’s only damage to a door from a domestic incident that’s concerning the crew.
8pm: On Inner Circle all is quiet and Sgt Andy Murphy says the police operation started weeks ago with visits to schools and supermarkets to try and combat the threat of anti-social behaviour. Signs on front doors, like those published in last week’s County Gazette, signal that householders don’t want trick or treaters.
8.30pm: Back at the cells at Taunton police station, there are more reports coming in but nothing notably sinister beyond the normal Saturday night drunks, says Sgt Mike Ashwin, who describes the strict procedures needed to monitor and treat anyone who is locked up after too much to drink.
The signs are good so far and there is even optimistic talk of reviewing the police cover next year if the trend of reducing Hallowe’en trouble continues. The rest of Saturday night is busy but, mercifully, not full of horror.
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