One of the areas where offensive graffiti was sprayed.

A West Norfolk mayor has called for a greater police presence in town claiming people feel “uncomfortable” walking after dark.

Downham Market Mayor David Sharman voiced his concerns after racist comments and swastikas were daubed on town centre buildings over the weekend.

He said the graffiti was one of a number of recent unsavoury incidents which were creating a “bad atmosphere”.

Mr Sharman said the skate park had been targeted in the past few months with three attempts made to set it on fire.

Norfolk Police posted an appeal for information about the weekend’s graffiti on social media, tweeting: “Police are aware and investigating offensive graffiti which has been spray painted on premises in Wales Court, Priory Road and Chapel Street.”

Paint was also sprayed on private land at the Iceland store.

The alleyway leading to Wales Court was cordoned-off and  police community engagement officer Lee Anderton said officers had attempted to cover the graffiti so shoppers did not have to see the offensive material until it could be properly removed.

PC Anderton said police presence had already been stepped-up in the town with a dedicated unit allocated to Downham on Friday and Saturday nights since the beginning of the year.

PC Anderton said the move was a result of “listening to what the community has been saying”.

He said he had spoken to Mr Sharman on Monday in the wake of the graffiti and would be attending next month’s town council meeting when Mr Sharman said he hoped the problems could be discussed.

Mr Sharman told Your Local Paper he felt the graffiti was just another “symptom of what was happening in Downham Market”.

“I am chairman of the Jubilee Community Centre and we have had three attempts to set the skate park alight. It is just getting ridiculous.

“We need some extra police patrols. I had my Mayor’s At Home event in the town hall on Friday and a lot of people were saying they didn’t like walking through the town after 9pm.

“We are getting groups of people out there who are making people feel uncomfortable.

“It doesn’t appear to be getting any better. I think it is just another symptom. It is creating a bad atmosphere in the town. I don’t like it. 

“I think this is where we miss the PCSOs (police community support officers). We need someone walking through the town to make a presence known.”

PC Anderton said crime figures for the area were low, but the fear of crime was an issue.

“You cannot criminalise young people if they are not doing anything, we need to engage with them,” he said. 

“I would reiterate that the majority of young people are good, law abiding citizens. They might be loud and having fun but they are not out to cause distress. When we talk to them, quite a lot have been horrified they night have caused upset.”

PC Anderton said the force was looking to recruit special constables for the town  and anyone in Downham interested in finding out more was welcome to contact him on 101.