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Police urged to deal with aggressive gangs

Crime meeting
Almost 100 people attended the policing forum
Camera courtesy of Fujifilm

A public meeting on law and order has heard demands for more to be done to deal with youth crime and abusive gangs.

The issue dominated a two-hour meeting held at Brookmans Park’s United Reform Church on Thursday night, attended by almost 100 people.

A Welham Green couple claimed they were "prisoners in their own home", afraid to go the local shops for fear of being abused and assaulted by local youths.

One Welham Green resident was applauded when he said the problem was "spiralling out of control". He said there was no longer any deterrent and the public had to run the risk of being assaulted or take action themselves and risk being arrested.

A woman from Brookmans Park told of how gangs of youths, some aged as young as 12, gathered on the steps behind the shops between Station Close and Westland Drive, drinking, taking drugs and intimidating local residents and passers by.

She said she was afraid to leave her home at night because of the gangs who regularly verbally abused her, especially at weekends when she claimed youths from Welham Green joined them.

A Welham Green resident said the police had done little to deal with youth behaviour since another policing meeting, held 15 months ago, was similarly dominated by the issue.

Police aware of gang problem

The police claimed the problem was being dealt with and that much had been done since the last meeting, but several residents disagreed, arguing that what was needed was a more visible police presence.

Inspector Paul Hart told the meeting that the number of ward constables was set to increase from 10 to 15 over the next 12 months. This, he said, should mean that more officers are seen.

He said the problem was with the age group that was "too old for the swings and too young for the pub".

A spokesperson for Welwyn Hatfield District Council said the authority was actively working with the police and youth groups to try to find a solution to the problem.

Several local residents said action should be taken against the parents of youngsters who allowed their youngsters to wander the streets unchecked.

One resident said the police should return to having "bobbies on the beat" and delivering the "short sharp shock" treatment so that youngsters knew what would happen if they misbehaved.

At the end of the meeting the police said they would like to hear any reports of anti social behaviour involving young people from Welham Green, however minor.

One officer said the public should report all incidents because every piece of information helps deal with the issue.

Other issues

Speeding in various parts of the area was raised as was the issue of the Welham Green traffic calming system. Several Welham Green residents wanted to know what was going to replace the recently removed chicanes.

And the "total nonsense" of yellow lines in Brookmans Park was raised by a Peplins Way woman who asked why they are still there seeing as nobody takes any notice of them anymore.

She was told that the chief constable had shifted funds away from traffic wardens following budget cuts and that it was no longer a police issue.

The meeting was one of a series organised by the Welwyn Hatfield Community Safety Partnership.

Two weeks ago a leaflet was posted door-to-door inviting people to submit issues for discussion.

The leaflet highlighted categories of crime identified in a community safety strategy are targets priorities for action. These include:

  • Tackling anti-social behaviour and criminal damage
  • Reducing violence against people
  • Keeping youngsters safe and out of trouble
  • Misuse of drugs and alcohol
  • Reducing burglary
  • Reducing vehicle crime.

Only two people responded to the invitation to submit questions in advance and, of those, one man from Cuffley failed to turn up to hear the answers to his questions and so the issues were not raised.

Forum discussions

You can discuss local crime in this site's forum where there are a number of related threads running including ...

25 March 2003

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Fresh appeal for youth volunteers - 15 February 2002
Community centre coffers boosted - 13 January 2002
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Teenage youth club to re-open - 23 May 2000
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Volunteers save youth club - 29 Oct 2000
Youth Club to close - 23 April 1999

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