Patrols continuing after anti-social behaviour at nature reserve

Oulton marshes fire

The viewing platform fire at Oulton Marshes, over the weekend of June 11/12 as captured by John Arnold "a couple of minutes after it started." - Credit: John Arnold

A popular nature reserve which has been hit by a spate of anti-social behaviour (ASB) is seeing the issues addressed with police patrols ramped up.

Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve in Lowestoft. 

Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

With the crime continuing around Lowestoft's Carlton and Oulton marshes - run by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust - officers have conducted "proactive patrols" recently.

The viewing platform at Oulton Marshes in Lowestoft, prior to being destroyed by fire.

The viewing platform at Oulton Marshes in Lowestoft, prior to being destroyed by fire. - Credit: Suffolk Wildlife Trust

It comes after bird hides were broken into and damaged at Carlton marshes last month, a couple of weeks after a popular viewing platform at Oulton marshes had been destroyed by fire over the weekend of June 11/12.

Oulton Marshes viewing platform destroyed

The charred remains after fire destroyed a viewing platform that is popular with visitors to Oulton Marshes in Lowestoft. - Credit: SWT NE Sites Manager Twitter

Amid increasing reports of vandalism across the nature reserve, officials at Suffolk's nature charity were forced into temporarily closing the bird hides - meaning birders and keen wildlife photographers have been prevented from using the facilities.

One of the bird hides targeted on Carlton Marshes, Lowestoft.

One of the damaged bird hides on Carlton Marshes, Lowestoft. - Credit: Suffolk Wildlife Trust

These still remain shut a month on from the hides having been "broken into, with doors kicked in, windows smashed and alcohol bottles left strewn across the site".

One of the bird hides targeted on Carlton Marshes in Lowestoft.

One of the bird hides targeted on Carlton Marshes in Lowestoft. - Credit: Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Over recent weeks large groups of people have been reportedly been gathering and causing "general anti-social behaviour", while incidents involving "the ASB use of motor vehicles" have also been reported.

One of the bird hides targeted on Carlton Marshes, Lowestoft.

One of the bird hides targeted on Carlton Marshes, Lowestoft. - Credit: Suffolk Wildlife Trust

This has now led the North East Suffolk team at the county's nature charity to lock the Carlton Marshes car park at 5.30pm until further notice.

Matt Gooch, the North East sites manager at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: "We have had the police down there pretty much every evening.

SWT and police patrols carried out on Carlton Marshes in Lowestoft

SWT and police patrols carried out on Carlton Marshes in Lowestoft. - Credit: SWT NE Sites Manager Twitter

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"So far - touch wood - we have not had any more vandalism.

"If anyone sees anything happening they should call 999 immediately but if it is issues of glass, bottles or rubbish being left they should report it to 101 as well.

"We are continuing to lock the hides and now we have had to shut the car park and lock it at 5.30pm for the foreseeable future."

A police spokesman said: "Please be assured, police are working with Suffolk Wildlife Trust to address the issues at Carlton Marshes to provide a safe environment for visitors and will be conducting proactive patrols in the area at relevant times.

"We shall be engaging with those we see or suspect to be involved in ASB and hope to initially advise only, but, should enforcement be necessary, Section 59 Notices can be issued."