Police prioritising key St Albans crime targets


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ALCOHOL-fuelled anti-social behaviour and speeding in the district are just two of the issues which are affecting the quality of life of local residents.

There is also concern about an increase in thefts from people, particularly purse-dipping and distraction thefts from elderly women, and organised car meets which are spreading from retail parks to local roads.

The four issues are the priorities for neighbourhood policing following consultation with local residents about which issues are affecting their lives.

St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Sergeant, Karen Lewis, said that the problem of alcohol being drunk in public places was an ongoing issue with local people.

She explained that there were regular reports from the public about groups of people commandeering beauty spots in St Albans and committing alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour which included rowdy and intimidating behaviour, littering and noise.

The police had been working with the district council, housing associations, homelessness workers and licensed premises to tackle the issue and were continuing to enforce the district’s ‘responsible drinking zone’.

Sgt Lewis went on: “We will be focusing on removing alcohol, 24-hour exclusion notices and arrests. In the longer term we will look at Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), assistance with addictions and outreach workers to rehouse homeless people into suitable accommodation who will refer them if they need further help.”

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Turning to speeding, she cited a number of St Albans roads – Batchwood Drive, The Ridgeway, Holyrood Crescent, Maynards Drive, Cottonmill Lane, Hatfield Road, Sandridge Road, Folly Lane, Green Lane, Francis Avenue and Marshalswick Lane – where it was a particular problem as well as near schools during term times.

Admitting that speeding was one of the main concerns with residents, Sgt Lewis said the use of speed indication devices would be followed up by the use of speed guns and drivers could expect to be fined, referred to driving improvement schemes or summoned directly to court for excessive speed.

Pickpocketing and distraction thefts have bucked the trend of a general reduction in crime across the St Albans district over the last year. Elderly women shopping in busy areas have been targeted in particular and although the neighbourhood policing team had arrested, charged and helped convict some prolific thieves, Sgt Lewis said they also needed help from the public to raise awareness of such crimes and if they saw anyone acting suspiciously.

The other issue raised by residents was organised car meets which, Sgt Lewis admitted, had plagued the Griffiths Way car parks over the years.

She went on: “Generally the attendees have a genuine passion for cars but unfortunately these meetings bring people intent on ruining the unofficial event by driving dangerously – car surfing, doughnuts, racing – and causing anti-social behaviour, in particular noise nuisance,”

As a result police were receiving a number of complaints and recently the problem had appeared in other parts of the district including Valley Road.

She pledged that police would continue to work with site owners as well as make arrests, seize vehicles, impose fines and court summons and inform the registered owners of the vehicles, which were often parents, of how the vehicle was being driven.

The current four neighbourhood priorities will be renewed in three months but Sgt Lewis stressed: “It doesn’t mean we won’t be dealing with crime or other issues that come up but we are committed to work with our partner agencies and dedicate resources to help reduce these neighbourhood priorities.”