No permanent CCTV for Sandhills as anti-social problems are below the Leighton Buzzard average


Pleas to have CCTV installed on the Sandhills estate have been rejected as the anti-social problems on the estate are below the average for Leighton Buzzard as a whole.

In total 120 desperate residents signed a petition urging Central Beds Council to install fixed cameras due to ongoing crime problems.

Leighton Buzzard Sandhills

Leighton Buzzard Sandhills

After suffering from months of anti-social behaviour, trespassing and theft, locals were demanding cameras to catch offenders in the act, or deter them in the first place.

The petition was considered at a meeting of CBC’s Executive where Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services, revealed that, since receiving the document, council officers had conducted a review of anti-social behaviour, property tresspass and theft on the estate.

He pointed out that Sandhills was made up of 45 roads, of which only three had been adopted by CBC, and that there were 1,500 properties, housing approximately 4,500 residents.

He said: “The town council does operate a CCTV system at its community buildings adjacent to Astral Park, but by its nature and the size of the estate this only has a limited use in the centre area.”

Cllr Dalgarno said between April 2015 and March 2017 there had been 247 incidents reported, mostly centring on rowdy behaviour, nuisance vehicles, and flytipping.

“A comparison of data between Sandhills and the rest of Leighton Buzzard compares quite favourably. Sandhills has 5.15 incidents per 1,000 population, the rest of Leighton Buzzard is 7.76, so Sandhills is below the average.

“I acknowledge there are incidents of anti-social behaviour on Sandhills, however the number and nature of these incidents is no different from any other similar estate across Central Bedfordshire.

“Therefore the deployment of fixed cameras on the estate is not cost effective or practical due to the sheer size and the lack of a defined problem area.

“We do however have a number of redeployable cameras that we do use and these can be used in hotspots. However there is an issue in that most of the roads on the estate are not adopted by Central Beds.”

Cllr Dalgarno did add that progress had been made in identifying some of the troublemakers. “The council’s anti-social behaviour team has been working with the Sandhills community, the police, the town council and other partners.

“We have identified individuals and home visits and formal warnings are taking place.”

Ward Councillor Amanda Dodwell had earlier told the meeting: “Community safety has been an issue for quite a while in the Sandhills area of the town and for the last six months Sandhills has come up as the number one area for anti-social behaviour.

“It is mostly low level anti-social behaviour but it is blighting the lives of residents in that area and that explains why they come today with this petition.”

Cllr Dodwell said the town council – through Operation Dodford – had arranged for extra patrol of the estate, and that Streetwatch volunteers had also targeted the area.

Petition organiser Sumeet Grover, who had his new motorcycle stolen in February, told the LBO: “We welcome the efforts of the Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) team of the council in working with our community and acknowledging that there is a problem.

“However, it is questionable if the residents would welcome the council’s response of statistical figures to a democratic appeal signed by them.

“The council’s response also exposes issues around local governance, which should invite ongoing public and press scrutiny.

“The roads at our doorsteps are privately owned after years of having been developed. Should that reduce the council tax obligations to merely property tax and refuse collection? Their response also exposes that ASB is a wider problem in Central Bedfordshire, that it is known, but is it okay to simply know of a problem?”