A Leighton Buzzard business owner who says groups of youngsters have been “running riot” in the town centre, says he is thankful the police appear to be giving traders more support.
Tom Shattock, who owns TK Furniture in Hockliffe Street, has been unhappy about the visibility of officers in recent years, but is hopeful a corner has been turned with the introduction of a new community policing team.
The police station in Hockliffe Road recently closed with the new team – of seven constables, four PCSOs and one sergeant, overseen by an area Inspector and Chief Inspector – moving into a shared premises at the fire station in Duncombe Drive.
Mr Shattock said many businesses – including his own – had been blighted recently by groups of children, typically aged 11-12, who were causing havoc with their anti-social behaviour.
He said: “They have come in [to my shop] and run riot. There have been six to eight of them at times, some of the groups have been travellers. They run around and jump on the furniture and that can cause damage. It’s not just us, it’s other shops too.
“If they’re under 10 then there’s not much the police can do.
“They come in the town centre and think they have a licence to do what they want. They don’t behave like this in school.”
But Mr Shattock said there had been a marked improvement in police visibility of late.
He said: “The uniform alone is important. The police are trying now.”
Mr Shattock also praised PCSO Rachel Carne for the way she dealt with a group of youths causing disorder his shop. He added: “Some of the anti-social youths have been brought into the shop and apologised.
“I am pleased with the increased presence of the local PCSOs. It definitely brings more confidence in the police. Our communities are definitely benefiting from support of Bedfordshire Police.”
Another local businesswoman, who did not want to be named, has also expressed her appreciation of the force’s PCSOs in dealing with anti-social behaviour in High Street. The PCSOs were also recognised for the support they provide to the locals during Leighton Buzzard market days.
She said: “We have definitely noticed a more visible police presence in the high street and have witnessed the PCSOs telling young kids to get off their bikes if riding on the paths.
“They have also been offering support to the man operating the barrier in the high street on market days.
“It is nice to see their presence in town, and we would not want to see this go, as unruly behaviour seems to be an everyday occurrence at the moment.”
Community Chief Inspector Hob Hoque said: “I am immensely proud of the work the Community Policing Team do in Leighton Buzzard. I am also happy that police officers and PCSOs are receiving positive feedback for their hard work.”
“Our officers are fully committed to making sure that our communities get the policing service they deserve. We will continue to tackle the issues in Leighton Buzzard.”
Follow the community policing team on Twitter @CentralBedsCPT.
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