There are fears of vigilantism against a group of teenage yobs in Leighton Buzzard after complaints of police inaction.
Despite promises of an increased police presence in Leighton Buzzard, residents have been left feeling shortchanged after a band of anti-social youths caused mayhem in the town centre.
Cllr Amanda Dodwell said: “During the past month or so there have been numerous reports across social media and elsewhere of a group of boys committing a wide range of offences... These have ranged from causing a nuisance on bikes, anti-social behaviour in the library and elsewhere, and throwing a shopping trolley off the multi-storey car park.
“It is most concerning to hear that a gentleman was knocked unconscious in the town centre and robbed. If the same group of boys are responsible, then clearly this takes things to a different level.”
Last Monday, councillors aired their frustrations on behalf of residents to senior police officers at the town council police liaison committee. Already, angry residents have spoken on social media of taking on the youths.
Cllr Dodwell said: “I am worried that it is only a matter of time before someone takes the law into their own hands.
“There is a perception that when residents do report problems they are not taken seriously, and the promises to strengthen the community policing team have not yet materialised.
“Indeed, trying to get any firm commitment on what we will get and when continues to prove impossible.”
Boosting police presence in Leighton Buzzard was one of the pledges of Police and Crime Commissioner Kathryn Holloway during her 2016 election campaign but questions have been raised over its delivery. Cllr Dodwell said recent crime figures showed an increase in anti-social behaviour and shop-lifting in the town.
She added: “I, like many others, believe that if there was a visible police presence it would deter the sort of anti-social behaviour that we are currently experiencing.”
Town councillor Clive Palmer added: “The police seem well informed about the boys in question and were left in no doubt about councillors’ and residents’ concerns at the meeting on Monday evening.”
When asked by the LBO what action was being taken by Beds Police to tackle the yobs, Sgt Louise Bates stated: “We are aware of ongoing anti-social behaviour issues in Leighton Buzzard and our Op Sentinel Team are continuing to work hard to resolve them.
“We have increased high-visibility patrols in the area to help identify the individuals involved and deal with them appropriately.
“We continue to engage with other agencies, including schools in the area to ensure that the investigative and preventative measures we are using are appropriate and effective.”
A police spokesman added: “We know some of the names, and are working to establish who else is involved. Of those names we do know, we are taking appropriate and effective action by working with partners and the parents of those involved.”