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Youth problem in Welham Green

Police have been told that some Welham Green residents are afraid to leave their homes because of anti-social behaviour involving gangs of youths.

A packed public meeting in the village's Memorial Hall heard that some residents were reluctant to call the police and give details for fear of reprisals.

The issue dominated a police forum meeting on Thursday night, one of a series being held in the area organised by the Welwyn Hatfield Police Community Partnership (PCP).

More than 300 people packed the hall with many having to stand throughout the two-hour meeting. It was a turnout described by the police as the biggest they have ever attended in four years of community forums.

Speaker after speaker blamed the lack of police, the lack of anything for youngsters to do and the failure of parents to control their children as the reason why gangs of youths roam the streets.

There was loud applause for one woman who said people are now 'petrified' and unable to leave their homes after dark.

She said she can't take her children to the Welham Green shopping area because she is afraid they will be abused by gangs of youths. Again to loud applause she spoke of gangs of youths including children as young as nine using claw hammers to break up litter bins and damaged vehicles.

Many agreed that there was little for young people to do in the area and there was a fresh appeal from organisers of the North Mymms Youth and Community Centre for volunteers to help run activities to take youngsters off the streets.

Organiser Martin Ferdinando repeated a call, made by the centre's management team in the summer, for local people to help keep the centre open.

Anyone willing to help should contact the centre secretary by leaving a message on the answer phone 01707 260198, writing to the centre at its Station Road, Welham Green address or e-mail youth

Several elderly residents said they were too frightened to leave their homes and were reluctant to call the police and give evidence because of possible reprisals. The meeting was told that some residents are now suffering serious trauma because they are not able to get out and because of the fear they are living under.

The police were told that people wanted reassurances that something would happen and many people wanted a more visible police presence.

Police representatives said that while there has been an increase in the workload for police there are no longer enough officers.

A police spokesman told the meeting that the days of the village bobby had gone and blamed the selling off of police homes which meant that officers were unable to afford to live in some areas and had been forced to move away. The Hertfordshire force also has a recruitment problem with officers being able to earn more in the Metropolitan district.

“The demands on the police are increasing but the resources are not matching them – we have to prioritise,” the meeting was told.

They called on local residents to come forward with evidence and names so that the police can take action.

After the meeting, officers handed out questionnaires as part of an effort to collect evidence to try to identify those causing the trouble.

Officers promised to increase patrols but said they needed the co-operation of local residents to gather enough information to take action.

They said a mobile police station would be deployed in January and promised it would visit Welham Green.

Traffic was the other issue raised at the meeting with speeding the most common concern.

If you want to comment on the issues raised you can use this site's 'Have Your Say' section.

Alternatively you can contact the police at …

Hertfordshire Police Authority
Freepost, ANG6281
Hertford, SG13 8YS
Tel: 01992-555628
Fax: 01992-555625

The authority has a website where you can read about the policing plan and find out how to provide feedback on local issues.

November 22, 2001

Recent News
Local policing - public meeting - November 9, 2001

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