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27 juillet 2007

Flaw in warning on crooks

Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators in Malmesbury have admitted making a "stupid mistake" after sending out a letter warning of crooks "out to rob and steal" at WOMAD. Householders received the notice, ahead of this weekend's festival. The letter said upwards of 50,000 to 100,000 people would be expected, including "villains and opportunists".

But now Malmesbury Neighbourhood Watch coordinator Ian Mace has admitted he had got his numbers wrong. A total of 20,000 people are expected at the festival - less than half his lowest estimate.

Mr Mace said: "I made a stupid mistake and I put the wrong anticipated numbers down." His letter said 99 per cent of people would be there for fun, but one per cent, equating to 100 people, would be "crooks". It said: "Previous festival supporters talk of organised gangs' seeking every opportunity to steal.Not only on the campsite, but also in the community."

Mr Mace said he had tried to send out a correction, but it was too late. He added: "The rest of it I can't see anything wrong with. We are just telling people to make all the normal Neighbourhood Watch precautions."

A WOMAD spokesman agreed people should be security conscious, but was disappointed with the tone of the letter and the factual inaccuracies.

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