A group of residents have united together to vent their anger and frustration at a lack of action to combat anti-social behavior in their neighbourhood.
The meeting was held at Bourne Valley Youth Centre on Tuesday night, with locals from Arne Avenue and the surrounding Rossmore area gathering to discuss issues allegedly created by a small group of youths.
Emotional and shocking accounts of violence towards children, vandalism and knife crime were also heard throughout the meeting, prompting tears from a number of distressed audience members.
Shaun Wheatley, 54, told BUzz news about how his house was stoned by a group of youths nine months ago.
He said: “As I went down Arne Avenue, one of them came out the drive and said ‘I’m gonna slice you up’, and he had a knife.
“I’m six feet three inches, 25 stone and 54 years old. I’m thinking ‘look at the size of me, are they not scared of me?’.
The panel here will go home tonight in their comfortable house, and they won’t be getting their windows stoned or their fences knocked down.”
Another resident, Kay Seabright, who lives on Arne Avenue, said: “I have an autistic son and he’s just gone to secondary school. He’s been hit on the way home, bullied and I’ve had to report it to the police.
“When I’ve challenged 12 and 13-year-olds, I’ve been sworn at and they threw stones at my car. I phoned 999 and the neighbourhood police, and they didn’t turn up.
My youngster is getting concerned about where we live. He has nightmares about knives because the young children involved are carrying knives.
“Someone has actually died. What more is it going to take? I think it’s disgusting.”
In his speech, Dorset Police’s Inspector for Poole, Andy Edwards, stated that the panel were unable to discuss individual cases of alleged crime.
Whilst Kay understands the issue is not easy for local authorities to tackle, she believes the police are not responding adequately.
“They won’t address individual cases, but these are all individuals that have come here who this is affecting on a personal level, and they’re not dealing with that at all.
“Because they’re young, it’s hard given the guidelines of the law, but I think solutions needs to be cohesive with housing, social services, and the police, to work together.
“There’s not a lot that anyone can do and that’s why I think a lot of people here tonight are angry, because we feel very helpless.
“Even when you do give a statement they’re let go. They seem to be invincible.
Something needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly.”
Inspector Edwards responded to criticism from the residents with empathy:
He said: “I understand it. We’re the face, so we expect that to happen. But the point I was trying to get across at the start was that actually there’s no easy answer, otherwise we’d have all done it by now.
“This is a complex issue, which is multi-faceted in solutions. We’re one part of that solution, and need to work together with the community.
We do put a lot of work in, as do our partners, to try and resolve issues.
“One of the themes that came up tonight for the residents was around parental responsibility. That’s really important, so we would certainly advocate for people knowing where their children are.”
“I think moving forward, maybe a neighbourhood watch or some kind of smaller focus group to look at specific issues would perhaps be a way forward.”
A further meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday February 13 at 7pm, where the use of CCTV will be discussed amongst other potential solutions.
Madeleine Marlow attended the meeting at the Bourne Valley Youth Centre, and filed this report: