Police step up patrols in Harpenden

Harpenden high street. Photo: Danny Loo.

Harpenden high street. Photo: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

St Albans Chief Inspector Shane O’Neill has spoken out in a bid to reassure residents over crime concerns in Harpenden.

Ch Insp O’Neill has spoken publicly after residents took to social media to express their concern at a perceived increase in crime.

He said: “With close links to Luton and London, Harpenden is often targeted by offenders as it is seen as an affluent area.

“In line with the rest of the county, one of major priorities is preventing and detecting burglaries.

“We have therefore increased high-visibility and also covert police patrols, and have made several arrests, which have led to convictions.

“As in our recent campaigns, I would always encourage residents to invest in additional security measures including house alarms, CCTV and web-based security cameras and doorbells, as well as making their premises as unattractive as possible for burglars, who want to commit their crimes unseen.”

Harpenden is covered by 24/7 uniformed intervention teams who respond to 999 and many other non-emergency calls, plus dedicated Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) officers, including PCSOs and Specials, who are based at Harpenden Police Station.

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They are supported by detectives in the Local Crime Unit, who investigate a range of crimes including burglaries and robberies. These teams are in turn supported by specialist central departments that deal with the most serious crimes or where victims are particularly vulnerable, such as in child abuse cases.

Ch Insp O’Neill said: “I encourage my officers to be highly visible in the community either on foot, bikes or vehicles, however there are many occasions when they need to be in plain clothes, so members of the public may not be aware that officers are on the streets, but please be reassured that they are there.

“We regularly do this to help prevent burglaries and other crimes such as pickpocketing, which again has resulted in arrests.

“During January, specialist plain-clothed officers were on burglary prevention and detection duties across Harpenden.”

In December, following a “slight” rise in thefts from motor vehicles, a number of people were arrested over Christmas and these thefts reduced.

“The frustrating thing is that we are often told that the victims of these thefts have not locked their cars, as they would prefer the contents to be stolen than have damage caused to their vehicle.

“This does encourage the thefts as these opportunist thieves only want the easiest ‘prey’.

“My advice would be to secure your vehicle and remove all valuables.”

He said: “Shoplifting is an ongoing priority for my officers, who work closely with store managers to help improve their security and we are actively working to reduce this crime.

“We won’t hesitate to publicise photos of people we would like to speak to who are caught on CCTV cameras.

“Like any community, Harpenden does sometimes suffer from low levels of anti-social behaviour (ASB) such as criminal damage, people being drunk in the street, rowdiness or begging.

“The Harpenden SNT has the main responsibility to tackle and reduce ASB and this is reflected in their policing priorities which are agreed with local councillors at Priority Setting Forums meeting quarterly.

“My SNT team officers are working with schools, parents and many local agencies to help alleviate nuisance.”

He added: “At the beginning of January, Harpenden residents will have heard that 29 cars were damaged in one evening in the Southdown area.

“This is believed to be one person walking home from the train station slashing tyres and smashing wing mirrors.

“This was a one-off incident and we are still investigating these crimes.

“Again, if you have any information regarding this, please contact your local police.”

He said: “We run neighbourhood surgeries in Harpenden, Redbourn and Wheathampstead where residents can speak to their local PCSO about crime or anti-social behaviour or pick up crime prevention advice. They are advertised on the police website www.herts.police.uk/saferneighbourhoods - select Harpenden.

He added: “I want to reassure you that Harpenden remains a low-crime area.

“When an increase in crime or anti-social behaviour occurs, it necessarily stands out because it is unusual and we respond quickly.

“However, the police cannot solve crime alone and the public’s help is absolutely vital.

“If you have any information that will help prevent or detect crime, please contact us. We are always here to help.”

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