London Colney crime wave may be linked to gang activity

Drug paraphernalia - small plastic bags used to store cannabis - dumped along the River Colne, and f

Drug paraphernalia - small plastic bags used to store cannabis - dumped along the River Colne, and found near to the Riverside industrial estate. - Credit: Archant

Residents of London Colney are living in fear of a gang of teenage hoodlums responsible for a spate of drug-related crimes and anti-social behaviour, the Herts Advertiser can reveal.

A group of teenage boys was routinely attacking a strip of St Albans district council garages on London Colney’s Bluett Road, vandalising them every time they were fixed - on March 26 they ripped off six doors.

In April, a gang was reported to be terrorising the shops on London Colney’s Haseldine Road, raiding the Co-op with masks and baseball bats in order to steal fizzy drinks and crisps.

They were so aggressive that residents were frightened of going to the parade of shops after dark.

Drug paraphernalia has been littering the side of the River Colne in London Colney, by Riverside and Waterside, dumped by dealers and left as a danger both to children and wildlife.

Then on May 19, a savage video of a teenager being jumped and beaten by a group of thugs on Bernards Heath playing fields was viewed more than 43,000 times and shared more than 400 times on social media before it was taken down. It is claimed the ringleader was also from London COlney.

In an exclusive interview with the Herts Advertiser conducted under assurances of anonymity, our source claims all of these incidents are linked, claims supported by posts across various social media groups.

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He described the teenagers responsible as “notorious” and a “little mini-gang”, who will go to jail eventually if their behaviour carries on.

He said: “There are so many accounts of violence with this boy and his gang.”

He claims last week’s assault is not the first instance of vicious behaviour by this group of boys - he said someone was spat on, another was hit over the head with a mallet, a belt was used to flog a third and someone else was pummelled while locked to some railings with a bike lock.

He says the thugs use threatening behaviour to ensure they are not reported to the police.

“They have got people in Luton, if there were problems they would sort it out for them.

“When all of this was going on I honestly was thinking about moving, that is how scared I was about what was going on.

“They are dirty, they are cowards, they go for you when your back is turned, hit you on the back of the head and go at you from behind.”

He described them as “untouchable” because they are minors: “The police are saying that from six years old or over they are treated by the law on an individual basis, not how old they are, but what do they have to do? Murder someone?

“I don’t know any other kids in the area who would do something like this - I want the police to get them out of the area, to watch out for them, to get it sorted.”

But despite the wave of offences in London Colney, Herts Police have refused to link the incidents.

Insp Adam Such, of the St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Team, said he wanted to reassure the community that the people who raided the Co-op have been identified and dealt with “robustly”.

“Following several incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in London Colney in recent months, including at the Co-Op in Haseldine Road, a number of teenagers were identified and given Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs).

“As part of these contracts we work with the teenagers, their families and local businesses to reduce anto-social behavour and in this instance, some of those involved in the incident at the Co-Op returned to the store to apologise for their behaviour.”

Since then, he said, there has been a reduction in incidents, and they have been keeping an extra eye on London Colney to avoid more anti-social behaviour.

St Albans district Cllr Simon Calder also believes the problem is sorted: “The last I heard the police have been visiting some of their houses, and I have had some phone calls.

“It seems to be a really new phenomenon, it has shocked and surprised everyone, it’s come out of nowhere. I have been talking to police and they know most of them, the ringleader, and they have been round their houses and it’s gone quiet.” He added that precautions will be put in place to ensure the raids do not re-emerge.

Anyone with information about a crime should contact the police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.