The following message was sent out yesterday on Police social media.
Text copied verbatim
Martin Stilwell, Chair, Woking NhW
Dear West Byfleet Residents,
I am aware of your increasing concern regarding young people gathering in West Byfleet, particularly around the centre, where you have experienced anti-social behaviour such as young people riding bikes on the pavement and road, blocking the pavement, bad language and drug smoking. I appreciate this has created an intimidating environment and therefore some of you prefer to stay away. This has also had a negative impact on the local business community. I have been out on the ground a couple of times and witnessed it myself.
At the centre of this is a small group of teenagers, some local and some from neighbouring Addlestone. We know that some have been displaced from Addlestone by the Local Authority’s use of a Public Space Protection Order, something which Woking Borough Council is currently reviewing and may implement if deemed appropriate.
In terms of Police activity, at the Joint Committee meeting in late September, I committed to providing increased resources to try to tackle this problem. I have gone beyond this and wish to highlight some of the activity we have being working on:
Daily patrols at the key times to deal with issues then and there, provide reassurance and a deterrent.
A S34 Dispersal Order (contrary to S34 of the Antisocial Behaviour Crime & Policing Act 2014) that when issued, bans the recipient from returning to a specified area for up to 48hrs. We have issued over 30 of these Dispersals since implemented on 17 September 2019. Where the order is breached, we will, wherever practicable prosecute – we are serving first stage letters for Criminal Behaviour Orders to parents of repeat offenders on Monday. As you will appreciate because of the ages of those involved, we cannot name them.
We have launched investigations into other crimes linked to this group including hate crime and theft.
We are working with the Local Authority to seek a partnership approach to tackling this problem – this includes housing, local businesses and local schools – with the schools we are conducting briefings for each of the secondary schools.
We have asked the management company responsible for Sheer House to provide measures to prevent access.
We have asked some of the companies that attract these youths to consider simple steps such as turning off their Wi-Fi (which is a draw for the youths), as well as banning the youths – although this is up to them, and we urge local businesses to work in unity to achieve this.
We need to improve our social media use so you know what we are doing – we have an officer earmarked to do this and are waiting for them to be posted.
It is also important to manage public expectation: I wish to highlight that West Byfleet is one of many issues across the Borough. Limited numbers of Response and Neighbourhood officers have to serve and protect over 102,000 people with their daily 999 and 101 demand, as well as crime investigations into domestic violence, road traffic collisions, gangs, missing people and mental health to name but a few of our most frequent incidents. As such any deployment must be considered on the basis of the threat, risk and harm – so if you do not see officers in West Byfleet, this is because they are dealing with other matters in Woking Borough.
The Police and Local Authority work together, but often a wider approach is required. Often it is the community’s help that can prevent these issues: Families have their part to play to prevent the disorder caused by their children; the community who know these children also have their part to play to show that their behaviour is unacceptable. The Police can go some way to stop it, but often prevention is the key, and this lies with the community.
I urge all of you to report all incidents of crime, (999 in an emergency, 101 for non-emergency, online via the Surrey Police Website or via Crimestoppers for anonymous reporting) and wherever you can, obtain evidence – never put yourself in harm’s way but if you are able to provide CCTV or mobile phone footage to us, it will help. An officer may not be on the doorstep, but by reporting it, it allows us to build a picture of who the main trouble makers are, whereupon we can case build and tackle them criminally (where appropriate) or through other civil-based measures.
Woking Borough Commander