Police are considering a radical approach to ease community tensions which are running high in Scarborough following suspected race-hate vandalism on a giant sculpture on the town’s seafront.
If an offender is caught they could be asked to attend a meeting in the town and explain why they committed the crime in an attempt to help residents come to terms with the attack.
A reward of over £2,000 has been pledged by the outraged Scarborough community to help to catch the culprits who threw bright yellow gloss paint over the Second World War memorial, which overlooks the town’s North Bay.
Last Thursday’s attack – on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day – deeply shocked residents, who campaigned to ensure the statue, called Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers, was made a permanent feature on the seafront.
Pensioner Maureen Robinson, who used £50,000 of her life savings to buy the cherished statue for the town, wept when she witnessed the desecration.
This week police officers put up posters in schools and public buildings advertising the cash reward which has been offered up in exchange for information leading to the arrest of the culprit.
After learning of a similar case in America, Scarborough Inspector Tony Quinn revealed a restorative community meeting, involving experts in the town, could be a way forward if a person is charged over the offence.
He said: “As well as the normal judicial process, there’s some sort of community healing process which we are looking at. It maybe coming to an understanding so people can come to terms with why it happened and then move on because at the moment people are struggling to comprehend why anyone would want to do it.”
Insp Quinn said officers were still pursuing the possibility of it being an anti-Semitic attack due to the significance of the yellow paint; the colour was used by the Nazis to mark Jews in the Second World War.
However, despite a reward being offered, he said there had been a lack of people coming forward with information, which he said was “surprising”.