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Anti-social behaviour: your stories from across Wokingham borough

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EGGING, brick throwing, trees being set on fire, attempted thefts and threatening behaviour.

These are all the types of incidents that residents are reporting as an epidemic of anti-social behaviour sweeps across the borough.

In recent months, there has been plenty of chatter on social media groups such as Facebook of numerous incidents of anti-social behaviour, and not all of it gets reported to police.

Last week, we asked Wokingham Paper readers to share their stories for this special investigation.

We have been inundated with incidents. In a lot of incidents, they have not been reported to the police or the council. We hope that by publishing this report, we will encourage readers to call the relevant authorities to help them build up a pattern of behaviours.

 

Reported by the police

Just before Christmas last year, a teenager was attacked by a hoody wearing gang on Barkham Road in Wokingham.

The 15-strong gang pushed him to the ground, punched and kicked him and then stolen his belt.

The gang only stopped when a driver stopped to come to his aid.

Police said in their report that the 14-year-old victim required hospital treatment.

A similar incident took place outside the Nisa store in Barkham Road in early January.

Again, a gang of around 10 to 15 youths got into a fight, during which a 14-year-old girl was assaulted.

At the end of January, a teenager was robbed at knifepoint while walking through a cut through in Shinfield.

Gang attacks

 

The Barkham Road incidents are not the only gang attacks that have been alleged across the borough.

Earlier this month, photos were posted on a social media site of several police cars attending an incident in a Woodley town centre precinct.

Several users claimed that there was a fight between a group of children of different ages.

It is alleged that one of them had a weapon and used it to threaten another boy.   

There have also been reports of eggs being thrown at houses and stones thrown at car windows.

We have also received, unconfirmed reports, of gang attacking a younger pupil at one of the borough’s secondary schools.

In the town

 

One reader got in touch with The Wokingham Paper to say that they asked two young boys to stop throwing bollard covers around Wokingham town centre’s regeneration works.

They told us: “When I asked them to stop and tried to retrieve the covers from the road they shouted at me and threw them over me.”

Police encourage anyone who takes pictorial evidence of such events to send these in to them.

It is also generally advised not to post them on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

There has also been reports of an attempted car jacking and a brick being thrown at a car window in London Road, Wokingham, but the police could not find any record of these incidents when asked by The Wokingham Paper.

“The council thought it would be a brilliant idea to put a public footpath on Outfield Crescent leading to the new bowling alley.

“This has attracted a lot of youths who think it’s OK to run riot down the street.

“In February, three cars had their windscreen smashed in. I saw a gang of young boys hanging around our road when we came back from a night out at 11pm.

“The police caught the people but let them off only with a caution as they were underage. I didn’t even get an apology.

“There has been drunk kids who thought it would be funny to urinate up against a car parked in a driveway. When they got caught by the owner, they just shouted abuse.

“Teenagers started a bare knuckle fight in the middle of the road and this then playing music and drinking on the park.

“Since then, the St Paul’s and Woosehill areas have seen an increase in anti-social behaviour, and there have been incidents of theft and assault on and around Barkham Road.

“As many of those involved appear to be teenagers, we are concerned about what will happen over the summer holidays.”

There are other issues in the St Paul’s area: some residents have reported that graves in St Paul’s Churchyard have been repeatedly targeted, alleging that flowers and other tributes are being stolen.

One person said: “My father is most upset, he didn’t sleep last night, as this is the only way left that he can carry on caring for my mum.

“These scumbags don’t realise how much pain they have caused.”

Another reader said that the driver of a taxi he hired has been targeted by youths through eggs and stones at his cab while he has been driving through Wokingham. This is similar to the incident reported on page 2 this week.

Across the borough

There have also been reader reports of outbreaks of anti-social behaviour in Shinfield, Spencer’s Wood and Three Mile Cross.

The reader said: “We can’t claim this is caused by any particular group of young people, but they are the main culprits.

“Reports include underage drinking, smoking, using controlled drugs, rudeness to those who task them.

“Certainly some of this could be down to shortage of local policing and reduction in random local patrols.

“Changing attitudes in schools, lack of discipline, poor parenting and lack of things for young people to do in the summer evenings and at weekends also must have an effect. We need a change of attitudes all round if there is any chance of sorting these issues.”

“In February, my son was attacked by three hooded teenagers in Elms Field. It was early evening and he was walking towards the station home from the town centre.

“The three boys punched him and slashed him on his face, arms and through his shirt on to his chest. We had to go to hospital for stitches with the police. It was reported.

“They checked CCTV and came up with nothing so they got away with it.
“I have heard about quite a few men/boys being attacked for no reason and some very badly beaten.

“Since the recent rape in Wokingham I do not feel safe letting my two teenage sons or my daughter anywhere near the town on their own.

“Wokingham use to be a nice place to live but we have decided as soon as my daughter finishes school we will be moving away from here. I know a lot of people who feel the same.

“I think it is only going to get worse as there are no police around this area anymore either.”

Bridge taken away

In Woosehill, a bench by Kingfisher Bridge has been repeatedly targeted by vandals, most recently being caked in mud.

Although it was cleaned up, it was taken away last month.

Newly elected Cllr Helen Power said in a Facebook post: “I’ve been working out who / which agencies are involved and are responsible for sorting it out and what has been done so far.

“I’ve been in contact with and/or met the local police team and commander, various departments in the Council and the Morrison’s store.

“I’ve also tried to ask a formal question at the main Council Meeting on the issue and am waiting for a response from the responsible councillor which I’ve chased up.

“I’ve asked all these people and agencies to put the issue as urgent and top of their to do list and asked them to take action before the school summer holidays start.

“I have had feedback from the local police and parts of the council showing that they are taking action e.g. more police and community warden patrols and activity in the Woosehill area.

“I will also be going out with the local police on a patrol to see things for myself.”

She had planned to ask a question at the recent council meeting but members questions ran out of time.

Cllr Power said she had planned to ask: “I attended the Community Safety Partnership’s Problem Solving Tasking Group where they discussed what could be done to resolve the Anti-Social Behaviour problems in and around the Woosehill area.

“It is clear there are many strands to these issues and it is a cross agency issue to resolve.

“However from attending the meeting and also from listening to the local residents, it is clear that this Council can take positive steps that will help resolve the issues.

“Will you commit to enabling a Youth Centre, Youth Outreach workers and a Woosehill Community Development worker to be put into this area as soon as possible and before the school holidays start in order to tackle underlying problems that are creating the Anti-Social Behaviour?”

Council commitment

And Wokingham Borough Council said that it is committed to ensuring everyone in the borough feels safe.

It has a number of reporting tools available, mostly accessible via its website, wokingham.gov.uk

There are sections to report fly-tipping, graffiti and flyposting, dog fouling and anti-social behaviour.

A leaflet is also downloadable offering tips and advice, including phone numbers to report inappropriate use of motorbikes and mopeds, noise nuisance, public order issues such as drunkenness and drug-influence behaviour, and there is also the ability to report vandalism.

Cllr Julian McGhee-Sumner, Deputy Leader of the Council, told The Wokingham Paper: “We strive to make sure every person in our borough feels safe.  

“The Wokingham Community Safety Partnership works closely with police and other local support organisations to tackle the causes and effects of anti-social behaviour.  Our Youth Offending Service does preventative work in local schools and also supports acceptable behaviour contracts on individuals identified by police.

“Partnership members also meet with local residents, engaging young people and their families, as well as look at environmental issues to help improve social behaviour.

“You can also report anti-social behaviour on our website 24/7 at www.wokingham.gov.uk/index-of-report-it-services/ but if you witness a criminal act in progress please call the police on 999.

“For all other incidents call 101.”

 

What do you think? What can be done? Send your thoughts and comments to letters@wokinghampaper.co.uk

 

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Phil Creighton

Publisher of The Wokingham Paper

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[…] The Wokingham Paper this week has launched an investigation into the problems of anti-social behaviour that are currently plaguing the borough. You can read the first part here. […]

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