Call for help with anti-social crimewave on St Albans estate
PUBLISHED: 18:51 20 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010
MORE police resources are urgently needed to tackle ongoing criminal behaviour around a housing estate according to two concerned ward councillors. As reported by the Herts Advertiser two weeks ago, arsonists ran riot on the New Greens estate in St Albans
MORE police resources are urgently needed to tackle ongoing criminal behaviour around a housing estate according to two concerned ward councillors.
As reported by the Herts Advertiser two weeks ago, arsonists ran riot on the New Greens estate in St Albans on Halloween night, setting fire to three vehicles including a people carrier used to take hearing-impaired children on school trips. Residents also experienced a string of other anti-social behaviour-related problems.
Batchwood ward councillors Roma Mills and Martin Leach said criminal behaviour had been blighting the estate for some time and their concerns were brought to a head by the events of Halloween night.
They argue that an inadequate level of support was offered to the local neighbourhood team that night and that there has been an ongoing lack of crime prevention in the area.
One police officer and a PCSO were on duty around New Greens, but Cllr Mills and Cllr Leach claim that they had to deal with more than 60 youths gathered on the estate.
In a letter of complaint to Herts Police's Chief Superintendent, Julia Wortley, they claimed just two special constables arrived at the scene when they called for assistance.
It continued: "In our view, the lack of support in the face of overwhelming hostility enabled members of this group to slip past the officers and commit three vehicle arsons in three different locations that evening. No arrests were made.
"We would like to know why our officers did not receive the level of support they needed to prevent these crimes being committed."
There have been a string of incidents in the area including vehicles being driven onto the William Bird Open Space playing fields on the estate and torched, thefts from the pavilion and arson attacks on the council garages behind Partridge Road and Carnegie Road.
Trenches have been dug around the playing fields to prevent vehicle access and the garages have been removed, but the two councillors claim there are no strategies for preventing such criminal behaviour.
They maintain that residents deserve to be protected from arson attacks on vehicles and from groups of anti-social youths roaming the estate.
Ch Supt Wortley said Halloween had become the busiest night of the year for them and many other forces and there was extra pressure this year because it fell on a Saturday night when there was already peak policing demand.
She continued: "Each year we prepare our resourcing levels to meet expected demands across the whole district but no-one can predict exactly where and when specific incidents of anti-social behaviour or disorder will occur."
More than 50 police officers, PCSOs, intervention officers, the tactical team and special constables were on duty on Halloween and Ch Supt Wortley said that the district was unusually quiet at 8pm that night.
But the New Greens problems developed very quickly and more resources had to be summoned from across the area to assist the two local officers.
Ch Supt Wortley said the incidents were still being investigated and police would continue working with residents and councillors on longer term plans to avoid a repeat of the Halloween events.