Monday, 8 February 2016

Community challenges anti-social behaviour in public meeting on arson

A victim of arson and anti-social behaviour stood up and challenged his community to "stand up against evil".

Peter, who has lived in Pentre Gwyn on the outskirts of Wrexham for the past 10 years, had his car set on fire in November and his house attacked twice in quick succession.

He came to tonight's public meeting to address community concerns about anti-social behaviour and arson in the area. He and others present made clear that they blamed a small number of individual youths, some of whom were present at the meeting, for the anti-social behaviour. Yes, there was a lot of finger pointing as tensions spilled over at times.

Apart from Peter's dignified challenge - in which he outlined the "hell" his family had suffered over the past few months and the fear among his elderly neighbours - the meeting offered much heat and little light.

Acting Inspector Steve Owens of Wrexham Police said there had been 55 arsons in Caia Park last year with 17 of those in Whitegate ward (which included Pentre Gwyn). Many had taken place in the last six months. He admitted the police had failed to win the trust of the community, who saw little point in phoning 101 when there had been a slow or no response to previous calls. There had been just 51 calls last year from the estate regarding anti-social behaviour.

As a result of this breakdown, there was no police intelligence to deal with the problem although everyone attending the meeting was aware who was behind the problems being caused on the estate.

There was a real missed opportunity tonight to regain the trust of people who feel the council, police and other services were failing them. Even reports of street lights being out had been ignored.

The tiny proportion of anti-social youths causing the problem are finally being dealt with - pressure from the police on their private landlord means they are being evicted. That's a relief for the immediate community that was being terrorised but the problem is just being displaced and the real challenge for the multitude of professional agencies that exist in places like Caia Park is how to (a) prevent this kind of behaviour happening by addressing the frustrations of many teenage kids and (b) how to catch the criminals once they go beyond bad behaviour into criminality.

It won't be achieved by relying on official agencies - there were at least six different services and groups in attendance tonight who have all failed in different ways to deal with the problem.
 It will have to come from the community itself. From people like Peter and others who stood up and were counted tonight.


Anonymous said...

So much for the NW PCC's recent comments as to the need for the social integration of resource 'teams'.

ALL hot air and sound bites. The 101 system is a 'resource team' tat has to be re-evaluated. it has contributed to gross indifference in the community.Consequently, - so much for ' intelligence -led policing.'

Anonymous said...

Agreed - the police, council and everyone present all agreed 101 wasn't fit for purpose. So it's no surprise that people stop phoning the police when they get no response. Tonight's meeting really exposed the spin of the Police Commissioner when compared with the reality on the ground.

Tim Scriven said...

I am following the thread as my life has been affected by neighbours council done listen to me and my other neighbour who also had children targeted had been a and said no one beleives me about council he then became arsonist .it said about address the problems of those young people( a( it's a terrible thing but council never accept anything as evidence my daughter has been target for 5 years but they don't accept any evidence as real or pick on you when coming for help causing great stress to me and her which can make someone do crazy things . especially after a long period