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Snow yobs pelt hearse with rocks

PUBLISHED: 17:18 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:23 23 August 2010

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SCORES of yobs pelted a hearse with snowballs - some filled with rocks - as shocked residents and passers-by watched in horror. The sickening attack by youths was among the onslaught witnessed at the bottom of The Warren in Valley Drive, Gravesend. As

SCORES of yobs pelted a hearse with snowballs - some filled with rocks - as shocked residents and passers-by watched in horror.

The sickening attack by youths was among the onslaught witnessed at the bottom of 'The Warren' in Valley Drive, Gravesend.

As blizzard conditions swept through north Kent what should have been a weekend of fun was marred by anti-social behaviour.

A 25-strong gang spent targeted motorists, forcing Arriva buses to withdraw the route on Saturday afternoon with three buses unable to operate after being vandalised.

Buses suffered broken windows as yobs threw bricks, broken furniture and rock covered snowballs. Passengers were also targeted.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "As if it is not bad enough having to put up with the kids throwing snowballs at the traffic in Valley Drive.

"But to see them throw snowballs at a funeral procession, especially at the hearse is the lowest of the low.

"Where is the respect of these kids? Where are the Police or Police Community Support Officers?"

Cyclist James Hart, 25, who watched the onslaught on Saturday, said: "It's unbelievable. They are putting rocks in them."

Mrs Evans described the attacks as a "nightmare" and "extremely dangerous".

When approached by a Reporter journalist the gang shouted abuse, swore and spoiled for a fight, shouting: "What the f**k are you doing?" and "Do you want some?"

Arriva's Marketing Manager, Richard Lewis, said: "We are co-operating with Kent Police who are investigating this matter and are scrutinising the digital CCTV system which continuously records images within and outside our buses.

"Fortunately no one was injured, but these mindless acts caused the buses to be taken off the road for repair and, for the sake of the safety of our drivers and passengers, it was necessary to suspend the whole service to Valley Drive for the rest of the day, causing inconvenience to our customers in the area."

Families also gathered at another large grass verge on Valley Drive, off Whitehill Road, for a weekend of sledging.

At this site two motorcyclists raced and slid, out-of-control down the grass verge just feet from young kids on sledges.

An Alsatian dog limped away after three youngsters appeared to hit its leg as they came to a stop at the bottom of the hill on a makeshift sledge made from thick plastic sheeting. North Kent Police received 21 calls on Saturday and 4 on Sunday and arrested a 13-year-old boy for public order offences.

On Sunday scores of officers were deployed, including four special constables who were placed on buses along the route, when trouble started again at midday,

Chief Inspector Philip Painter said: "We need to identify where fun ends and criminal damage and anti-social behaviour begins.

"We had reports that snowballs containing stones were thrown at passing cars, which is a very dangerous thing to do which endangers life.

"What should have been light-hearted fun, turned into a situation where we needed a large number of officers present to prevent it becoming out of control and making any more of an impact on the people living nearby."

Resident Kenneth Busbridge questioned the policing, saying: "We phoned the police and they pulled up here a few times but as soon as the police appear they run and then when they are gone they come back. It is a game to them."

But temporary Chief Inspector Paul Cooke defended the police response. He said: "If people dispersed when they heard the police cars arriving or saw the patrols arriving then this helped us to succeed in one of our aims - reducing the number of people at the location.

"Deploying plain clothes officers in this situation would not have been of benefit. It may have allowed crime to happen and although we would have been able to deal with offenders, by having uniformed officers there, the crime would be unlikely to happen in the first place, with no victim.

"The presence of uniformed officers was the best approach for this situation and as well as deterring crime, reducing the number of people there and limiting the amount of anti-social behaviour taking place, reassured the public that should the situation escalate, we were right there ready to deal with it.

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