The af­flu­ent town Forced to hire pri­vate bob­bies to pro­tect it­self

Sunday Express - - THE STATE OF THE NATION -

HOME­OWN­ERS in one of Bri­tain’s most ex­clu­sive sub­urbs have told how a crime­wave in­clud­ing zom­bie knife at­tacks and mur­der forced them to hire pri­vate se­cu­rity guards, writes Jon Austin.

Res­i­dents of Chig­well in Es­sex have been plagued by ag­gra­vated bur­glar­ies, car crime and street rob­beries as gang vi­o­lence and crime from London spills into the sub­urbs.

This month a man was slashed in the face with a blade af­ter rob­bers smashed his car win­dow in a shop­ping parade at 12.45 pm.

It came af­ter a pre­vi­ous at­tack when three moped-rid­ing rob­bers armed with “zom­bie” knives tried to at­tack a man to grab his ex­pen­sive watch in front of fam­i­lies out­side the David Lloyd sports club. The vic­tim had to scale a fence to es­cape.

Chig­well has been made fa­mous by the BBC sit­com Birds of a Feather and the ITV re­al­ity show The Only Way Is Es­sex, which starred Mark Wright, 31, and his sis­ter Jes­sica, 33.

But the town has seen a London gang-re­lated mur­der off Manor Road – Chig­well’s most ex­clu­sive street dubbed mil­lion­aires’ row where some prop­er­ties sell for more than £4mil­lion.

Moses Mayele, a trainee football coach, was stabbed to death on his 23rd birth­day on Oc­to­ber 12, when a 22-year-old man was also stabbed, but sur­vived.

Ibrahim Mo­hamed, 19, has been charged with Mr Mayele’s mur­der and at­tempted mur­der of the other man. No­table res­i­dents in the area in­clude Lord Su­gar, who has faced a break-in at one of his prop­er­ties.

Bur­glar­ies, in­clud­ing ag­gra­vated ones when home­own­ers are inside or even at­tacked, are be­com­ing more fre­quent in Chig­well and Buck­hurst Hill and Loughton, two neigh­bour­ing towns, the three of which are to­gether known as the Es­sex Golden Tri­an­gle.

There were 16 bur­glar­ies or at­tempted ones in the three towns, mostly in Chig­well, in one week from Novem­ber 5 to 11. A spate of ve­hi­cle crimes saw two Mercedes cars stolen.

But now res­i­dents in one road said they were look­ing to hire se­cu­rity pa­trols from My Lo­cal Bobby, a firm run by for­mer Met Po­lice de­tec­tives.

One home­owner said: “We have had a lot of bur­glar­ies and car crime, but at a meet­ing with the MP, po­lice and coun­cil they said they couldn’t re­ally help us be­cause there was only fund­ing for a cou­ple of po­lice of­fi­cers for the whole district.

“What dif­fer­ence are we go­ing to see from that? We don’t see po­lice walk­ing up here and are draw­ing up con­tracts to use this se­cu­rity firm.”

Res­i­dents which have hired the ser­vice since June claimed there have since been no bur­glar­ies or car crime.

A pen­sioner, who now lives alone af­ter 42 years in the road, said: “It has changed a lot here and we were get­ting a lot of break-ins.

“You used to get po­lice walk up and down but I haven’t seen one for at least 10 years.”

She has been bro­ken into three times, in­clud­ing once when she was asleep inside and birth­day presents were taken.

She said: “Noth­ing has hap­pened since they started the pa­trols. I feel a lot safer, it is the re­as­sur­ance.”

One of two My Lo­cal Bob­bies work­ing the road, who gave his name as Liam, said: “We have seen peo­ple who look like they are cas­ing out a place or who are not from the area and ap­proach them and po­litely ask what they are do­ing. They tend to just leave it is a de­ter­rent.”

My Lo­cal Bobby boss Dave McKelvey added: “We are just do­ing what po­lice used to do – putting bob­bies on the beat. We de­ter crime in the ar­eas we have pa­trols. I have no doubt it is keep­ing these ar­eas safe

‘We don’t see po­lice on pa­trol’ ‘What we do is a de­ter­rent’

and it proves high vis­i­bil­ity polic­ing works whether it is by po­lice or pri­vate se­cu­rity.”

But not all res­i­dents want the pri­vate se­cu­rity. One said: “They want £100 per house a month. How do we know we can trust the se­cu­rity peo­ple?”

An Es­sex Po­lice spokesman said: “While we un­der­stand con­cerns about a num­ber of re­ported in­ci­dents in the Chig­well area, we are tak­ing proac­tive steps to re­duce crime. We ask peo­ple to con­tinue to report crimes to us so that we can in­ves­ti­gate them and build up a pic­ture of emerg­ing crime trends so that we can tar­get our re­sources.”

Pic­tures: MARK KEHOE

ON PA­TROL: My Lo­cal Bobby ‘Liam’ pa­trols Chig­well, be­low, which has seen ben­e­fits

RE­AL­ITY TV: The Only Way is Es­sex star­ring Mark and Jes­sica Wright based in Chig­well

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