Children put in danger by thoughtless act, says head

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A headteacher has said his students were put in “peril” after thieves attempted to steal cable in Stoke by Clare.

Phone and internet connections in the village were severed when a BT cable in The Street was cut in the early hours of Friday morning.

Police believe thieves had lifted a manhole cover and were trying to steal cabling to sell for scrap, but were disturbed after an alarm system was triggered when the cable was cut through.

Matthew Parker, headteacher at Stoke College, said pupils and staff had become virtually cut off from the outside world due to the village’s poor mobile phone coverage.

“It was a worry as we have a duty to keep the children safe and, as there is virtually no mobile phone signal, it would make things very difficult in an emergency,” said Mr Parker.

“The peril we were put in if there was an accident does not bear thinking about.”

In order to get around the problem, the school set up an emergency mobile phone number. Staff had to then take a phone into the middle of the sports field to receive messages and make calls.

“It is dangerous because an ambulance could be delayed by 10 minutes and, if there was an accident on the cricket pitch or somewhere else, that could make a difference,” said Mr Parker.

“Whoever did this was stunningly thoughtless and I’m sure it has hit businesses as well as the danger.”

Mr Parker added that teaching had continued without too much disruption on Friday and Monday and the connection had been restored in time for the school’s speech day on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Police said the cable had been cut at 12.30am on Friday. The force helicopter had been deployed and officers had searched the area, while house-to-house inquiries were made, but no one was found.

A spokesman for BT said around 50 homes had been affected.

“We would appeal to local residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour in or around street cabinets or manhole covers immediately,” he said.

Anyone with information about the incident should call Suffolk Police on 101.