Calls for new CCTV in Woodley after summer of troubleBy Jon Nurse
October 22, 2012
A summer blighted by vandalism and anti-social behaviour has prompted calls to reinstate CCTV and increase police presence in the town centre.
Fed-up traders and residents confronted officers at a meeting of Woodley Town Centre Management Initiative on Wednesday.
Town centre manager Jacques Lherbier said: “It seems the CCTV camera columns that were removed in July have sent a message to thugs and, perhaps coincidentally, we have had many security problems, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Jackie Yule, who works at Boots in Crockhamwell Road, told the meeting her colleagues were nervous leaving work in the dark since the cameras were removed.
Mr Lherbier is urging traders to report incidents after he wrote to Wokingham police commander Chief Inspector Christian Bunt and met Woodley Sergeant Mark Smith and was told officers would need to see an increase in reported crime before more resources were allocated.
He added: “If Woodley is going to get better service from the police, who have limited resources and are stretched across the area, it’s about reporting it more.
“Unfortunately Ch Insp Bunt goes according to figures. We know the figures are one thing and the reality is another. One officer on a Friday could be all that’s needed for the problems to disappear.”
Market trader Ray Wingrove said he has seen vandalism increase, but knows it isn’t being reported.
“There hasn’t been a single Saturday where there isn’t broken glass in the town centre,” he said. “
PC Jenny Swain said: “We have our suspicions who it is but we have to see them there and then. Anti-social behaviour has been low – at least that which has been reported.
“Woodley did have serious issues a couple of years ago, but is much better now than it was.”
Gordon Davies, headteacher at Beechwood Primary School, in Ambleside Close, added: “I know it costs [to police], but the price we are paying is a serious one.
“Cheap alcohol is being made available to many young people on the streets and until someone gets a hold of that, nothing’s going to change.
“The security issue isn’t going to go away.”
He added: “We have drawn up a plan to add five CCTV cameras to different vantage points around our site. It’s now in the precinct but it could next be in our backyard.”
Councillor Keith Baker explained the town’s cameras were removed at the request of the police.
Wokingham Neighbourhood Team Inspector Greg Elphick said: “Local figures do not appear to reflect the reported impression of rising crime or anti-social behaviour since the removal of the CCTV cameras, brought about due to the council and police having to manage the consequences of reducing budgets.
“There was a slight spike in damage being reported in the couple of weeks after the CCTV column removals but this quickly fell away.
“I recognise that not all crime is reported but would urge people to notify us wherever possible as the information feeds into our crime and intelligence systems and shapes where our resources are directed.”