Police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite denies text from Wisbech council leader prompted changed response to castle vandalism
- Credit: Archant
Police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite categorically denied he did anything to influence an investigation into vandalism at Wisbech Castle.
Mr Ablewhite issued the denial after Wisbech town council leader Sam Hoy said she contacted him personally following the incident at Wisbech Castle at the weekend.
Cllr Hoy said police were contacted on Saturday after the damage was discovered but was told they would not be coming out.
“I was so angry I texted Jason Ablewhite and said officers should come out as there was evidence, including cigarette butts, left by the vandals.
“On Sunday we started to clear up and then we get a call from a scenes-of-crime officers saying he would be coming out.”
She added: “I suspect that was a result of my text message. I’m lucky I can contact Jason Ablewhite, other members of the public don’t have that privilege.”
But following a challenge from angry users of a Facebook page, Fenland Political Scene, Mr Ablewhite responded.
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He wrote: “I do not and would not and cannot interfere in operational policing. “Anyone can contact me easily through an email link or phone on my Cambs PCC website.”
He said: “The complaint about lack of attendance by Cllr Hoy was a legitimate one but I think officers have clarified why it wasn’t an immediate response based on the higher risk incidents going on at the time.
“Police did attend and forensics officers obtained evidence that is currently being processed. Cllr Hoy is clearly passionate about Wisbech Castle that I know she and others have put a lot of their own time and effort into. I empathise with her anger as this was mindless vandalism.”
Activist Sharon Horne wrote: “Jason Ablewhite, so you are confirming that no matter what text you would receive would not get the requested police presence and that Cllr Hoy is incorrect in her quote?”
Mr Ablewhite replied: “That goes for absolutely anyone; that would be totally unethical. Police are despatched based on the threat, the risk and the harm and certainly not by me.”
A £500 reward is being offered to find those who caused the damage.
Councillor Steve Tierney, chairman of the castle management committee, says he will personally pay the cash “to anybody who supplies information to the police catching them”.
He added: “Any information will be treated in confidence – just give us the names and info please.”
Cllr Hoy said throughout Sunday after the vandalism had been reported; volunteers found many of the items they thought originally had been stolen.
“They have basically and mindlessly trashed it,” she said. “They’ve smashed loads of stone items, cut the wires off the lights so they can not be used and smashed lanterns,” she said.
“They have also thrown all the seats in the bushes and the decorations provided by one lady have been smashed.
On Tuesday police issued a statement that “following reports of theft and criminal damage at the castle in Museum Square at the weekend, we would like to hear from anyone with information.”
The statement said: “The call came into us at about 7.30pm on Saturday, and although we were unable to deploy officers due to a number of other immediate-grade incidents, scenes of crime officers attended on Sunday and managed to collect some forensic evidence which has now been sent off for examination.
“Extensive damage has been caused to the children’s play area, as well as a number of newly fitted lights having been stolen, although these were later found damaged nearby.”
Anyone with information is asked to report online at www.cambs.police.uk/reportand quote 35/26935/18, or call us on 101.
Cllr Hoy said it seems police won’t come out to minor crimes and she feels this “sends out the wrong message to people who do things like vandalising the castle garden”.
She added: “It makes me feel like we are living in a lawless state.”
Conservative Jason Ablewhite became the new police and crime commissioner two years ago.
He received 81,581 votes. His nearest challenger was Labour’s Dave Baigent, who polled 72,480.
Nick Clarke from UKIP came third with 29,698 votes.
Mr Ablewhite, a former food industry manager, has been a councillor in St Ives, where he lives, since 2005.