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Children 'unable to sleep' due to antisocial behaviour

Police receive 66 calls from residents in six weeks

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

“No quantitative ‘need’ for additional convenience stores in Thatcham

CHILDREN have been left “fearful and unable to sleep” and residents feel “vulnerable” due to antisocial behaviour in Thatcham.

The extent of the problem was revealed by Sgt Jo Willoughby, from the Newbury and Thatcham Neighbourhood Policing Team.

Police launched an operation to crack down on the problem in south Thatcham last weekend after receiving 66 calls from residents in the space of six weeks.

These included reports of youths shouting and swearing into the early hours, playing loud music, burning trees and foliage, smashing bottles and throwing apples at vehicles.  

Sgt Willoughby said the group’s behaviour has had a “significant impact”.

She said that children have been left “unable to sleep” because of the incidents.

These included youths climbing on flat roofs, which left residents feeling “extremely vulnerable”.

Concerns were also raised by a number of people who attended a recent Thatcham Together Community Forum. 

Incidents included a gas canister exploding after being set on fire, while evidence of drug use was also found. 

The antisocial behaviour was carried out by children between the ages of 12 and 18. 

Officers have previously established a ‘dispersal zone’, which allows them to move people on if the police believe on reasonable grounds that they have contributed, or are likely to contribute, to members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or the occurrence of crime or disorder.

Dispersal orders can be authorised for 48 hours at a time.

The power has previously been used in The Broadway following complaints of antisocial behaviour. 

Sgt Willoughby said: “Thames Valley Police take reports of antisocial behaviour very seriously and will take robust action against those who negatively impact on the community.

“This includes arrests, visits to parents and intervention by the Youth Offending Team.

“Although we do not wish to criminalise young people, the public can expect us to continue to run operations across West Berkshire where ASB takes place and take appropriate action.”

The recent dispersal zone covered Chapel Street, The Moors, Green Lane, Bath Road, Beverley Close to the alleyway that leads to the Memorial Park north of Coopers Crescent, The Memorial Park to the junction of and including The Waverleys, and Park Lane to Chapel Street.

Two 16-year-old girls were arrested for breaching the dispersal order and a 17-year-old-male was arrested for breaching the order and for a public order offence.

Sgt Willoughby said that officers would be contacting the parents of the youths involved and referring them to the Youth Offending Team.

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