Town council calls on PCC to increase police presence in Leighton-Linslade 'urgently'

The Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner have been urged to strengthen police presence in Leighton-Linslade "immediately" after a spate of vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

By Jo Robinson
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 3:18 pm

In recent weeks areas including Linslade Community Garden, the West Street car park and Wally Randall's memorial bench have been targeted, leaving residents dismayed and angry.

However the town council has decided that enough is enough, calling on Bedfordshire Police and PCC Festus Akinbusoye to take action.

Leighton-Linslade town councillor, Jeremy Silverstone, told the LBO: "Almost all of it has been committed by a small number of well-known teenagers aged between 13 to 15.

Clockwise from top left: PCC Festus Akinbusoye (Credit: PCC); Wally Randall's memorial bench after it was vandalised for the first time (Credit: Leia Blakesley); Recent vandalism at Linslade Community Garden (Credit: Friends of Leighton-Linslade in Bloom Gardening Group); Bedfordshire Chief Constable Garry Forsyth (Credit: Bedfordshire Police).

"They have become openly belligerent and began to believe they were above the law.

"The police are taking action and have begun arresting the culprits.

"Where they are members of families living in social housing their parents are being reminded that this breaches their lease agreements and if this continues they face eviction from the town.

"This should produce results quickly."

Wally Randall's memorial bench pictured after the first time it was targeted. Photo: Leia Blakesley.

Cllr Silverstone is chair of the Community Safety Sub Committee, which met on July 11, with the view that the current situation is "unacceptable".

It was agreed that the town clerk would request that Chief Constable Garry Forsyth and the Police and Crime Commissioner "urgently" and "immediately" strengthen police presence and "pursue a strategy of proper public accountability for juvenile offenders".

Cllr Silverstone added: "There are currently nine police officers and PCSOs serving the town and as the population grows we will need more."

However, he noted the crime figures in Leighton Buzzard were "about the same as last year" with incident numbers in 2021 as follows: April 162; May 153; June 186, and in 2022: April 164; May 186; June 182.

PCC Festus Akinbusoye. Image: PCC Festus Akinbusoye.

Inspector Graeme Twyford, from Leighton Buzzard community policing team, said: “I was at the town council meeting and completely understand the frustrations of those in attendance.

“Throughout July our sole focus has been on tackling anti-social behaviour in Leighton Buzzard through Operation Pentagon.

“As part of this we have so far made a total of five arrests, including four in connection to racially aggravated criminal damage in relation to graffiti.

“Our investigation is ongoing and we are continuing to make significant progress, as well as in relation to other related matters.

“Those arrested in this investigation are currently out on bail but with conditions, including to stay at home each night between 7pm and 7am.

“We will continue our focus on this operation in the coming weeks."

PCC Festus Akinbusoye said: “Investing in community-based policing is one of my key strategic priorities in my Police and Crime Plan.

“A focus for the team is to be visible and remain deployed to policing their dedicated area, including community special constables.

“I continue to work with the Chief Constable and Bedfordshire Police's senior executive team to raise issues of ASB that local people bring to me; I am very happy to see the recent focus on tackling this through Operation Pentagon.

“We’ve already hosted a summer programme in 2021 with activities for young people in Leighton Buzzard to boost physical and mental health.

"I’m also working in partnership with this year’s holiday activities and food programme with Central Bedfordshire Council, in which Leighton-Linslade has a sports holiday camp for young people to steer them away from ASB."