'Put words into actions': Reaction after police meet with fed-up residents living near a trouble Harborough park
They are now hoping that police backed up by Harborough District Council will finally begin to push back against a growing tide of heavy drinking, drug-taking, loud music and vandalism at the park
Fed-up residents are urging police to put words into actions after being told officers will step up efforts to stamp out a barrage of trouble at a Market Harborough park.
Local people turned out to air their concerns and vent their frustration to a handful of beat officers patrolling Little Bowden Recreation Ground on Northampton Road on Saturday night.
And they are now hoping that police backed up by Harborough District Council will finally begin to push back against a growing tide of heavy drinking, drug-taking, loud music and vandalism at the park.
A mum who has lived near Little Bowden rec for 13 years told the Harborough Mail today: “I went out there on Saturday night along with a few of my neighbours to talk to the police and it was good to see them.
“They were both sympathetic and empathetic and were keen to listen to our worries, our views and opinions.
“The police do finally seem to be getting a handle on our concerns and the rubbish that we’ve had to put up with here week in week out,” said the woman in her 50s who asked not to be named.
“But fine words and grand statements are not enough.
“They have to come out here and do what they are saying they are going to do on the ground.
“That means getting a much tighter grip on all the anti-social behaviour we’ve had here at the rec for far too long now.
“It does seem to have taken the police a long while to understand what we’ve had to endure here at the rec for far too many nights.
“This trouble has been going on just yards from our homes and back gardens for at least two years now.
“We want a better faster response on the night for a start,” said the mother-of-two.
“So if we call 101 police officers have to be sent out to deal with an incident here much more quickly.
“We want to see more visible patrols.
“There is talk about opening the toilets here later on a night.
“We’d welcome that in one way because we get people urinating up against our garden fence – and it stinks in the summer heat.
“It’s not nice at all.
“The kids who gather here play very loud music at times.
“And we can’t go out into our gardens to enjoy pleasant summer evenings because the smell of cannabis smoke is over-powering.
“We had to shut all our windows one night last week because the smell was so strong.
“But this isn’t all about cracking down on kids and teenagers drinking too much, smoking drugs and blasting out music.
“The police and the council also have to engage with them more.
“There’s not a lot for young people to do in Market Harborough.
“Many of their clubs and activities have closed down in the Covid pandemic.
“We haven’t got a cinema here and our leisure centre isn’t the best.
“So we do have to see this problem from all sides.
“Local authorities have got to work harder to build up a rapport with the kids and find out what they’d like to do, how they’d like to spend their time.
“That’s particularly crucial with the school summer holidays coming up.
“So we are hoping that the police and the council will both step up after we’ve been urging them to do just that for the last two years.
“We are all trying to be positive.
“But let’s see what happens over the next few weeks and months,” said the mum.
She spoke to the Mail as Insp James Purdie, the new head of Harborough police, vowed to work with residents to tackle anti-social behaviour.
He is promising to do more after a virtual public meeting was staged last Wednesday night to address local people’s issues.
Insp Purdie said: “We are aware of the concerns which have been raised and we are working with you, our residents, and listening to these concerns.
“This included at a residents’ meeting held this week.
“It is our priority to tackle these concerns and we are continuing proactive patrols in the area, including in the parks at peak times.
“We will also be holding beat surgeries in the parks at peak times to allow us to continue to talk with you about your concerns and the approaches we are taking.”
He added: “We will take action where it is required and will continue to enforce use of orders such as Public Spaces Protection Orders where required to help keep our area safe.
“Officers, along with our partners, also continue to work with young people to raise awareness of the dangers and harm which incidents can cause and to show where help and support can be accessed if needed.
“In the Market Harborough area, we have been working hard over the past year in relation to drug offences and specifically County Lines (drugs gangs), including working with the British Transport Police, and have seen success in terms of reducing this offending in the area,” said Insp Purdie.
“We have also seen a reduction in anti-social behaviour incidents.
“However, as always, we very much continue to work to address the issues being raised.
“We ask that you continue to work with us and continue to report your concerns to us as well as to provide information to us in relation to any criminal activity you are aware of.
“I would like to thank everyone who attended the meeting on Wednesday for sharing your concerns with us and to everyone who continues to work with us to help keep our local community a safe place to live, work and enjoy.”
Reports can be made by calling 101 or visiting www.leics.police.uk
You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.