Wed, 06 Feb 2019
THE mayor of Hungerford has called for calm after reports of a knife attack and a serious assault on a pensioner in the last few days.
The latest dramatic escalation in a recent wave of antisocial behaviour has prompted threats of vigilante action – which the mayor, Helen Simpson, said must be resisted.
Mrs Simpson had a crisis meeting with a senior neighbourhood police officer last Wednesday to seek information and reassurance.
She said: “I can’t believe what I’m hearing about what’s going on in Hungerford right now.
“People are frightened and angry, but I urge them not to take the law into their own hands.”
Mrs Simpson was speaking after reports that a man needed hospital treatment after being stabbed by a youth in an alleyway on Monday night.
Then, on Tuesday night, a 74-year-old man was reportedly taken to hospital after being smashed in the face by a youth with an iron bar near the skate park.
A friend of the man’s family, Rod Smith, of Humane Pest Control, said: “They are all absolutely shocked, and so is he.”
Mrs Simpson said: “It’s worth pointing out that another group of youngsters came to his aid.
“They told me they had helped him and called the emergency services, so let’s not overlook that.”
One woman said on social media she had helped bandage the stabbing victim and posted: “These are serious injuries.
“Hungerford needs a greater visible police presence at the moment.”
Another posted: “It’s frightening me, and obviously I’m not alone. As for me, forget it, I’m staying in.”
One resident demanded: “What’s happened to my town?”
Mrs Simpson said: “It’s scary. People are feeling vulnerable and they shouldn’t have to.
“I’m aware of it myself when I go to council meetings after dark.
“People have a right to feel safe in their home town.”
For weeks, there have been fears over increased antisocial behaviour in the town and suspicions that youths from other towns are coming to Hungerford to buy drugs because of a perceived lack of police patrols.
However, the latest incidents have led to online calls for vigilante action.
Some proposed patrolling the streets with dogs and others threatened violence.
One such post on social media said: “It’s getting ridiculous – if the police aren’t doing anything, someone else will.”
Mrs Simpson said: “The right way to deal with this is to report every single incident to the police.
“That way our neighbourhood team can get the ammunition they need.
“We need to get those local crime figures spiking and demonstrate we have serious concerns so they can go to their bosses and say: ‘We’re struggling and we need more resources.’
“I’m asking for a meeting ahead of Monday’s full council meeting with the new neighbourhood team sergeant.
“I want to know whether they know who these youngsters are and what information they can give to reassure us.”
The police gave a presentation to Monday’s full town council meeting, which will be held in the Corn Exchange at 7pm.
To report an incident, call the 24-hour number 101.
If that is busy, callers are encouraged to report an incident online via the Thames Valley Police webpage.