Feral Youth in Fletton- Peterborough Police Response

17:04 Tuesday 19th April 2011
Drivetime BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY BURROWS: Problems seemingly then in the Fletton area of Peterborough today. .. Some people living near the Fellowes Gardens area of the city claim they feel unable to leave their homes because of anti-social behaviour. A group of youths are being blamed, with residents saying they’re out drinking every evening, and being abusive in some cases. This is what a couple of the residents told our reporter Samantha Appleby. (TAPE)
RESIDENT ONE: Stabbings, drugs, booze, vandalising, windows broken, property being stolen out of your back gardens. That’s just some of what’s been going on round here.
RESIDENT TWO: This is out the back of my property. It’s partly a car park, but just directly behind the car park there’s a massive green bank, with trees, which the kids hang around in, or climb up in, and torment the people in the flats right next to the trees. We get a lot of teenagers sitting on the banks, especially as the summer nights are coming in. They’ll be drinking, smoking drugs. You can see that there’s paint all up the trees, where they got cans of paint and throwing it everywhere. (LIVE)
ANDY BURROWS: That’s just a little part of Samantha Appleby’s report into the problems at Fellowes Gardens, or in and around the area of Fellowes Gardens, in the Fletton area of Peterborough. Well earlier on today I spoke to the Detective Chief Inspector Gary Goose from Cambridgeshire Police. He works closely with the Safer Peterborough Partnership. And I asked him how problems in the Fellowes Gardens area are being tackled.
DCI GOOSE: Yes Andy, I think to be fair if you’d have said to me about a year ago that that was the case, I would have agreed. And whilst I’m not dismissing for one minute that people still have some very strong feelings and perceptions that Fellowes Gardens is a problem area, I think we’ve made enormous strides over the last year to put some really good things in place to try and address some of the issues that were there. So I don’t think my view is that it is the problem that it was a year ago. There’s still some way to go. But it is much much better. And that’s thanks to the help and hard work of an awful lot of people.
ANDY BURROWS: It must have been pretty awful a year ago, because we’re getting some rather alarming claims from residents who we have spoken to in the last couple of days, about vandalism, about threats to young children, and to issues of drinking out on the streets, underage drinking, problems with youths. It’s quite a lengthy list. So has it been cleared up then in your view, compared to a year ago?
DCI GOOSE: No, I don’t think it’s completely cleared up. It’s better than it was a year ago. But you concern me with some of the things you’ve said there, because, quite simply, I’m not aware of some of those issues. And what we really need people to do is if they do have concerns, if they do have real concerns and real examples of problems that are happening in that area still, is to let us know. We can’t react if we don’t know. For the last year there’s been a multi-agency group which has involved the police, the housing providers, the local authority, the fire service, the neighbourhood managers for the area, and lots of people from the community, who’ve really worked hard to try and make things better down there. And I think we’ve made enormous strides. I think Fellowes Gardens is not the single-agenda item that it was about a year ago.
ANDY BURROWS: OK, well let’s talk more broadly. Anti-social behaviour just seems to pop up evety now and again in different parts of the city. What can you do to try and sort it out?
DCI GOOSE: Yes it can Andy. And I’m really concerned about it. First and foremost, it’s what we call, what we want to describe as anti-social behaviour. because it means so many different things to so many different people. And it’s a term that might change over the course of the next few months to a year, who knows. Because to me it’s around what’s historically been, on the face of it, minor crime. But minor crime makes a real difference to the neighbourhood. It’s things like damage. It’s things like graffiti. It’s things like bullying and harassment. Those sort of things are things that make a real difference to neighbourhoods. But there is a real perception as well you know, at times, that just because a group of kids are hanging about together, they’re creating anti-social behaviour.
ANDY BURROWS: Do you think sometimes we’re too quick to judge?
DCI GOOSE: I think we are. And let me give you an example of why I think that. I remember reading on a police incident message a few months ago now, one of my roles is to check through and keep abreast of what’s happening to make sure that we keep on top of things. And one of the messages was recorded as a lady from a particular area of Peterborough had rung in to say. “I’m really concerned because there’s a group of youths sitting on the bench in the park.” And that was all the message was. Now actually the seat was there for people to sit on. And I’m sure there was more behind it. But actually, it doesn’t mean just because groups of kids are hanging about together, that they’re going to create or indulge in anti-social behaviour. So sometimes I think we’re too quick to jump.
ANDY BURROWS: Behaviour that is different though, and when you are faced with a group of young people, perhaps some people do find that intimidating.
DCI GOOSE: Yes of course they do. And I’m not diminishing that as a perception. But we have to make sure that perception is based upon reality. And there are huge steps being made forward in Peterborough. Peterborough’s crime rate, for instance, has dropped by 10% on all crime over the course of the last twelve months.
ANDY BURROWS: It’s always relative though, isn’t it? There’s very few times that people go, gosh, I know our house has been burgled, but did you know that burglary is down across Peterborough. It’s all relative, and how crime affects people personally. Let’s just talk finally about Fellowes Gardens again. You’re saying that it’s a lot different to how it was a year ago. You’re saying that you’ve been working hard with other agencies to sort the problem out. If people are still experiencing problems, and they claim that they are, what can they do?
DCI GOOSE. Yes. We need to know about issues, if they’re still occurring. And I’m not saying for one second that we’ve eradicated any problems in Fellowes Gardens, or every problem in Fellowes Gardens, because there are problems that occur all over the city that we respond to, and we resolve. I don’t think they’re as bad as they were twelve months ago in that particular area. But if people still do have concerns about things, then please make contact with either the police, the local authority, or the housing provider, all of which have statutory responsibily and powers to dewal with anti-social behaviour.
ANDY BURROWS: That was Detective Chief Inspector Gary Goose, speaking to me earlier on this afternoon.