IN light of the stabbings at Chafford Hundred on Tuesday night, we thought we would dig into our archive to see how the thorny question of "gang activity" in Chafford Hundred had been highlighted over last few years.
In the ten years that this reporter has been working in Thurrock, there has alway been a concern in Chafford regarding youth crime.
We could go back to Chafford Hundred Community Forum meetings in 2007, where the residents had warned of "Rivers of Blood" in Drake Road.
On many occasions, there seems to be reference to mystery groups coming from London. Others believe that is failing to address the "Elephant in the room".
Of course, some say that if any Chafford Hundred resident expresses concerns over police numbers they may, just may want to look at the voting patterns in local and general elections.
Back to the archive
February 8th, 2014
EARLIER THIS week, South Chafford councillor and, dare we say, community champion, Tunde Ojetola announced: "Enough is enough" after a young girl was mugged in Chafford Hundred.
YT is aware of crime reports from across the borough and is conscious of not exaggerating any particular activity. So, we thought we would look at the crime statistics and then take it from there.
According to police.uk, there were 87 crimes recorded in Chafford Hundred in February 2014. 35 of them were in relation to anti-social behaviour.
They happened in the following streets:
1. Southwell Close
2. Hedingham Road
3. Sewell Close
4. Bark Burr Road
5. Courtney Drive
6. Duffield Drive
7. Camden Road
8. Cardinal Road
9. Clockhouse Lane
15.Phillip Sydney Road
16 Delvin Close
25.Sport Recreation area
26.Sport Recreation area
27.Sport Recreation area
28.San Juan Drive
This compares to 11 offences in Stanford-le-Hope and 22 in Tilbury. We also went to another part of the county and looked at an area very similar to Chafford Hundred. We chose Church Langley in Harlow. Although the population is half the size, they have had only six incidents of anti-social behaviour.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to speak to a number of stakeholders in the Chafford Hundred community and ask them what they are doing and/or what they think can be done to address this issue.
The Gangs of Chafford Hundred
Report from special meeting in Chafford Hundred
The next issue focused on was the issues of gangs coming into Chafford Hundred. The police expressed a belief that the word "gang" means something different to different people and so it shouldn’t be used. The police also say that to the public a large group of youths wearing hoodies and therefore being intimidating is a gang, where as some may consider it as being a large group of people being anti-social, causing issues for the neighbourhood and committing crimes.
Since the Chafford Hundred railway station "Turned Oyster" you get large groups of people intimidating teens making their way into Thurrock. This issue is one of which is difficult to deal with due to the fact “They come to Chafford Hundred for Lakeside, cause trouble there, get kicked out of Lakeside and hang around on our streets” expressed one concerned citizen.
The Police said: "2.2 million people use the train station on a regular basis and so checking on every single one of them is going to prove a difficult task.
The public also complained that Tesco Express, a small Tesco located near to the station is often difficult to get into due to the large intimidating people blocking the entrance restricting local residents from getting their shopping.
Footpaths are over grown and streetlights are out causing an obvious location of which ‘gangs’ are to attack, by taking down the street lamp number and reporting this it can be easily sorted out.
That’s not to say that only gangs are terrorising the streets of Thurrock as garages are being robbed and in the space of the last year the amount of robberies have increased in the area by 20%. One man expressed that “the community grew up together” and that he felt these people were threatening to jeopardise their close knit community.
Police however are going into schools and educating students about the dangers of crime, in this they also cover the dangers of drugs, another issue that the meeting tackled.
One resident claimed that there are drug dealers littering Chafford Hundred and the police are aware of where the issues lay and so therefore say that they are handling this issue, despite being particularly vague.
Once again, the police referred to their stats and stated that although some crime has increased "Violence against a person is down 7% and car crime has gone down 25%".
FEARS of a gangland culture growing in Chafford Hundred should be nipped in the bud by prompt police action says a local councillor.
The growing problem came to the fore at the weekend when a 19-year-old was stabbed after being confronted by a gang of five young men.
He was with a friend on Drake Road at around 9.15pm of Saturday when they were approached by the gang and one of them stabbed him in his side.
Following the attack, the gang ran off down the cycle path towards Chafford Hundred station.
One of the suspects has been described by police as a black six foot tall male, of skinny, muscular build and aged between 18 and 19 years old.
At the time of the attack, he was wearing grey skinny jeans with a pair of grey Nike Air Max trainers and a green Khaki camouflage parka-style jacket.
A second suspect has been described as a black 16-year-old male of skinny build with short hair, dressed in black jogging bottoms, a shiny black puffer coat which had a hood.
The other three gang members have been described by police as black males of a similar age.
Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Grays CID on 101.
The stabbing of the man, who was released from hospital on Monday, was among the topics covered at a meeting of Chafford Community Forum on Tuesday evening, when ward councillor Tunde Ojetola was in attendance.
Residents spoke about the growing problem of drugs and gangs in the area, but Cllr Ojetola believes prompt police action will make a difference and says he has been assured by West Thurrock Neighbourhood Policing Inspector and Deputy District Commander Leigh Norris that the police “are on the case.”
Cllr Ojetola said: “There has been trouble with youths congregating around the station area; anti-social behaviour in various streets especially with fireworks; thieves breaking in and stealing jewellery, car keys; alleged drug dealing, etc. It’s high time we accepted that these issues exist and deal with them.
“I am pleased that the Police are now acting. They were in attendance at the Forum and I have been in contact with Insp Norris. I am assured that they aim to start a meeting and I have been in new operation to counter anti social behaviour in Chafford.
“This and the fact that Labour supported our proposal to keep funding for PCSOs means we are in a strong position to nip this in the bud.
“I got a timed gate installed in one street and have started a consultation to install it in another area; I’ve got cctv installed in alleys to deter youths from congregating there. C2C have guards at the station and the Tescos has their own security plans.
“We have now completed the youth park so the excuse of nothing for the youths to do isn’t correct. It even seems like most of them come from outside Chafford, as far away as London.”
POLICE looking to combat crime in Chafford Hundred have run a special operation.
Working in conjunction with British Transport Police (BTP) officers from Essex Police targeted the area around the railway station on Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25.
The operation was implemented following an increase in reports of anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and other crimes in the area of the station.
It also follows numerous accounts and reports told to YT of gang related activity in the Chafford area.
Both uniformed and officers in plain clothes patrolled the area to send a clear message out to those intent on committing offences in Chafford Hundred.
During the operation, Essex Police arrested two men for possession of cannabis. A 29-year-old man from Grays was given a fixed penalty notice, while a 22-year-old man from Chafford Hundred was charged and will appear at Basildon Magistrates Court in September 13.
In addition over 20 stop and searches were completed and intelligence gathered.
Following the success of this initial operation, police are planning further activity in the future.
Local residents and commuters are asked to continue working with police by reporting anything suspicious.
Anyone who experiences any anti-social behaviour in the area is asked to contact police on 101 or talking to their local PCSO.
Information can also be passed confidentially via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.