Wokingham Today

Anti-social behaviour raised at residents’ meet

- Francine Twitche , Wokingham

ANTI-SOCIAL behaviour in Woosehill was raised by residents at a community forum held on Saturday.

Organised by Emmbrook councillor­s Philip Mirfin and UllaKarin Clark, it saw Al

Lloyd, Thames Valley Police Neighbourh­ood Inspector, talk about work the force is doing to police the area, which falls under the Evendons ward.

The meeting took place at The Hawthorns Primary School in Northway from 2pm to 4pm and saw more than 75 residents come along to ask questions and also raise concerns.

Inspector Lloyd said that he saw the police’s role was not to criminalis­e children, but instead to try and work with them. This approach, he felt, was bringing positive results.

“A lot of the kids are from here, they are your children,” he said.

As part of this work, the force is working with heads of secondary schools across the borough in a bid to tackle drug and alcohol use, with exoffender­s talking to youngsters.

He also revealed that there has been a 17% increase in burglaries across the Thames Valley, and this was one of the main priorities for the force.

Residents were invited to ask questions and issues raised included children gathering around the Kingfisher Bridge area, drinking alcohol and residents having bags of dog’s mess thrown at their houses and of having their windows broken. Another reported being hit on the head by a stone.

There was a call for more CCTV and better lighting.

In answer to one, Inspector Lloyd urged residents to report anti-social behaviour, such as children with alcohol. “I don’t want you to confront them,” he said.

He also counselled against sharing footage of children on social media platforms, even if it is a closed or hidden group. Instead it should be sent to the police.

“We can share this [footage] with other profession­als to get the leads and then go and arrest them,” he said.

Further to my letter re the non AntiSocial Meeting on Friday, March 9, a conversati­on in the local shop informed me that another meeting on this subject was now going to take place on Saturday at Hawthorne Primary School. No hand delivered letters, and I only heard about by accident.

Saturday was biting cold and snowy, and once again I was pleased that the meeting at the school was so well attended. There were at least 130 local residents present.

The meeting was taken by Al Lloyd, Thames Valley Police Neighbourh­ood Inspector for Wokingham, and also present were borough council officers from Community Safety and the ASB service, and councillor­s Philip Mirfin and UllarKarin Clark.

The first hour was, to my mind, a complete waste of time. The Police Inspector went through his career, and general aspects of policing. He told us that we could no longer expect the same high standard of policing of three or four years ago. He seemed to care more for the welfare of the gangs that have been harassing our area than for those being harassed.

His main object appeared to prevent the gang members from getting a police record, and to offer them support. He also quite rightly said his other priority was the old and vulnerable. Anyone not in either of those categories should apparently take care of themselves, but not however to go out and challenge the gangs, as one could be arrested!

Finally it was question time. We should have had far more time on questions, as every one of those 130 cared enough to brave the weather for the second time to attend the meeting.

Many of the residents, mentioned incidents in their roads: Perkins Way, Linnet Way, Smith Lane, Latimer Road and Latimer Park, Barkham Road and – where there seemed to be the most nuisance – Kingfisher Bridge. It appeared that Woosehill was bearing the brunt of the anti-social behaviour.

Some of the residents who asked questions were very emotionall­y affected, one close to tears, as they described the horrors they had suffered to their homes etc. Examples of this was dogs’ mess bags being thrown and put through letter boxes, stones being thrown, drunken youths misbehavin­g and generally making a nuisance of themselves, far too many examples to mention here.

No constructi­ve advice seemed to be given and I felt scant sympathy from the speaker. The audience were all very attentive and caring, but did not get enough time or help. This is only my opinion and many of the other participan­ts may have had an entirely different view.

The meeting ended at 4.15pm and quite frankly I was very disappoint­ed. The only good thing that came out of it was the obvious care the audience had for their community. I had always thought of Wokingham as a quiet and pretty country town, having lived here from the 1960s, but after listening to the many horrid experience­s of the residents, it sounded like a city from hell!

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