Assault, fires, knives, and vandalism - police pledge three month focus on trouble reported at Leighton Buzzard recreation grounds
Danes Way and Astral Park are priority areas with families fearful over rising anti-social behaviour
Leighton Buzzard's Danes Way recreation area and Astral Park have been designated as a priority for the police with gangs on bikes and e-scooters causing chaos amid a rising tide of anti-social behaviour.
Worried families took to social media recently, sighting claims of assault, fires, vandalism and even knives at the Danes Way site, and describing those involved as "disrespectful" and "horrible". There were also complaints about the e-scooters bring ridden on nearby pavements.
Following a priority meeting attended by councillors and residents, Leighton Buzzard Community Policing Team was asked to focus on dealing with anti-social behaviour in Danes Way, as well as Astral Park, where trouble has also been reported.
Speaking at the beginning of July, Inspector Craig Gurr, who leads the community policing team, said: "We have been made aware of the anti-social behaviour that is occurring in this area and patrols are already taking place.
"Just this week I received an email of thanks for the team from a local resident.
"A crime reduction audit will also be carried out and the results and recommendations will be shared with our partners at the council for them to take whatever action is felt appropriate.
"I would urge anyone who witnesses an incident, or any suspicious behaviour, to report this to us, as this will allow us to build a picture of what is happening and to allocate resources where they are required.
"If crime is in progress, or someone is in immediate danger, always call 999."
Central Bedfordshire and Leighton-Linslade Town Councillor, Amanda Dodwell, said: "Anti-social behaviour is nothing new but sadly tends to be an entry point for young people into more serious criminal activity. Unfortunately, as we come out of lockdown we have seen an increase in ASB in some of our local parks, and residents have raised concerns.
"Whilst some of this behaviour is very much at the minor end of the scale - little more than teenage high jinx - we have seen examples of more worrying behaviour. Just recently there was extensive vandalism to trees in one of the local parks and at Tiddenfoot.
"In and around Danes Way and Astral Park there have been reports of groups of teenagers playing up well into the evening in a manner which has left residents feeling uncomfortable, and these are two of the areas that have been identified as priorities for the Community Policing Team."
Cllr Dodwell added: "The Town Council, through its Teenage Advice and Information Centre - TACTIC - provides many services to young people including activities to engage them in something positive, and we also work with other agencies to address ASB though projects such as Groundworks and invest in facilities for young people."
Posting on the Leighton Buzzard Community Policing Team Facebook page, PC Slav wrote: "It's going to be a joint effort between us - as in the community team - our partners in Leighton-Linslade Council, CBC, local councillors and most importantly local residents.
"I can tell you straight away that we will not be able to 'arrest out' this issue as we are all about problem solving and not problem moving.
"So we need to see why those areas are so prone for ASB (is it an environmental issue, lack or uninteresting spaces for young people), why do the people get involved in such behaviour? (is it boredom?, lack of activities to do? Or is it just young people being young people) or maybe we need to provide more support to community to feel safer in the area? I don't know yet, but we do have some very good Police Officers, PCSOs and Design Out Crime Officers who will be looking at this. A/PS Slav".
He added: "You will see the team in those areas more often now, so don't be afraid to speak to them, the more people will talk to us, the better understanding of the problems we will have."
You can make a report online at https://www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report or via webchat on the police website.
The force will be focussing on the trouble areas for three months.
Have you experience problems? Email your story to [email protected]