Our Hands are Tied

Our Hands are Tied

Our Hands are Tied

The residents have been told that because the group are all about 10 years old their hands are tied.

A large group of around ten children ageing from 8-12 have been climbing into people’s gardens, removing children’s toys/bikes and dumping them on the road and the cricket pitch in a Devonshire town. They climb over cars, hitting fences, bins and public seats with metal poles, all accompanied by swearing and shouting.

“I have gone from enjoying my new home over the past 5 months to the stage where I’m now embarrassed to have people visit. My friends will now often walk as they don’t want to risk damage to their cars. I find myself constantly having to get children out of my garden and now cannot upgrade my garden as planned for fear it will attract them more when I’m away with work. I cannot relax when I get home because of the noise of swearing and I’m constantly fearful of damage to my car/property.” ‘Katya’ explains. “I first tried reasoning with two children that climbed into my garden and explained how they could damage stuff and that they would understand when they were older.

By the morning I noticed they had kicked a hole in my fence and dumped a bin of rubbish all over the road. I and several other residents have on different occasions called 101 and have been told they would send a police car around to talk to us and move the children away. This has not happened!”

Katya’s neighbour wrote to the Police Complaints Commission and within a week got a response. Two PCSO officers went to his house. They were shown video of the disruptive behaviour and they recognised many of the children from an estate about a mile away but unfortunately they are known to the police and due to their age they can’t really act. The residents have been told that because the group are all about 10 years old their hands are tied. Even if they continue to climb over cars into gardens if they don’t actually damage anything then it’s just trespass and noise. They have been rightly told that noise is dealt with by the council and not the police.

I and several other residents have on different occasions called 101 and have been told they would send a police car around to talk to us and move the children away. This has not happened!” Katya’s neighbour wrote to the Police Complaints Commission and within a week got a response. Two PCSO officers went to his house. They were shown video of the disruptive behaviour and they recognised many of the children from an estate about a mile away but unfortunately they are known to the police and due to their age they can’t really act. The residents have been told that because the group are all about 10 years old their hands are tied. Even if they continue to climb over cars into gardens if they don’t actually damage anything then it’s just trespass and noise. They have been rightly told that noise is dealt with by the council and not the police.

Our Comments

It is difficult to read Katya’s story and see this situation unresolved. She has done everything right – first of all attempting to speak to the children directly, then when the problems continued, reporting them. She mentions what the other residents have been told and it sounds like they have discussed the problem together.

The fact that they have been given explanations from the Police indicates that they have been listened to and been given reasons why nothing is being done. Yet can it be right that someone has gone from enjoying their new home to feeling embarrassed to have visitors, unable to relax for the noise and fear of damage to property and vehicles? It seems to us that there is a whole area where anti-social behaviour can be very difficult to address – where the perpetrators are themselves vulnerable. Young children, older people, those struggling with mental health problems, people where there is a concern by agencies of discrimination due to race, disability or sexuality.

Perhaps the missing link here is what other work is being done with the perpetrators. For this group of 10 year olds there is no mention of the parents. If they are known to the police, is work being done with these children to change their behaviour? Is there hope for Katya and her neighbours that the behaviour will stop? We sincerely hope so as such behaviour should not have to be tolerated.

She has done everything right – first of all attempting to speak to the children directly, then when the problems continued, reporting them. She mentions what the other residents have been told and it sounds like they have discussed the problem together. The fact that they have been given explanations from the Police indicates that they have been listened to and been given reasons why nothing is being done. Yet can it be right that someone has gone from enjoying their new home to feeling embarrassed to have visitors, unable to relax for the noise and fear of damage to property and vehicles?

It seems to us that there is a whole area where anti-social behaviour can be very difficult to address – where the perpetrators are themselves vulnerable. Young children, older people, those struggling with mental health problems, people where there is a concern by agencies of discrimination due to race, disability or sexuality. Perhaps the missing link here is what other work is being done with the perpetrators. For this group of 10 year olds there is no mention of the parents. If they are known to the police, is work being done with these children to change their behaviour? Is there hope for Katya and her neighbours that the behaviour will stop? We sincerely hope so as such behaviour should not have to be tolerated.

hollie

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