Call for more police action to tackle drugs and antisocial behaviour at Stafford parks
A recently-revamped Stafford park is being used for drug taking and dealing, community leaders have said – sparking calls for more police action to tackle the problem, which is affecting other parks in the town.
There has also been a report of a nine-year-old girl being attacked at the Charnley Road Rark, off Sandon Road, in recent days, as well as antisocial behaviour at Wildwood Park in the south of the town.
County and borough councillor Ann Edgeller highlighted the issues to Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis during a virtual meeting on Monday.
She said: “The question I have is about Wildwood Park and the amount of antisocial behaviour that has been taking place. I have had many phone calls and text messages from people complaining about the lack of policing in that area.
“Since I put that question forward, Councillor Jonathan Price has asked me to raise on his behalf the amount of drug taking that is taking place on Charnley Road Park.
“A couple of days ago a nine-year-old girl was traumatised. She was bullied and absolutely terrified –this shouldn’t be happening in our parks.
“I would like to know what the police are doing to minimise this and stop it all together. Drug taking and antisocial behaviour is happening right across Stafford at the moment.
“I feel that drug taking is rife at the moment and it is quite frightening. You know as well as I do that drug taking has been going on for the last 30 years.
“We really need to get on top of it because people are really frightened and people are suffering because of it. Their normal daily life is being affected by the amount of antisocial behaviour taking place.
“I’m not saying the police are not doing anything; I’m begging you please do a little bit more to see if we can eradicate it as much as possible.”
Mr Ellis responded: “I am aware of that and I have talked to police in a number of areas around antisocial behaviour. Clearly we have been going through somewhat difficult odd times and young people not being at school, young people not being supervised in the same way they were.
“As far as I’m aware there have been five areas that I have asked police to look at specifically, where I have had elected members or members of the public contact me.
"If you’re saying nothing is being done I would be really surprised about that – I have had some positive feedback from various places across Staffordshire with the work that is being done.
“But it has been a very challenging time with schools not being utilised and a lot of young people not having much to do – and some going past what is expected of them. As far as I’m aware policing has been working hard and they have got decent resources.
“If you have got further concerns that it is still not being tackled I will raise it again. I will find out what they have been doing in that area but I am reassured they are out there in as many numbers as they can be, particularly in hotspot areas.”
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Edgeller said the antisocial behaviour reported at Wildwood Park included people riding motorbikes along the ring road and revving their engines loudly.
Councillor Price said there had been reports of people smoking cannabis and using nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas – at the Charnley Road playing fields.
Almost £400,000 was spent on improvements to the Charnley Road play area and the work took place last year. Stafford Borough Council was planning to hold an official opening event this spring but the coronavirus pandemic led to large public gatherings being unable to go ahead.
Councillor Price said: “We have a new £375,000 park and I’m sick to death of drug deals going on up there. Unfortunately it’s such a low priority the police are unable to deal with it.
“I want guarantees from the person who becomes the next police, fire and crime commissioner they will start tackling low-level drug use – it’s still a crime. If I go up there now there will be somebody smoking drugs.
“It’s a children’s play area and that’s what it needs to be. I don’t want to see people smoking drugs in front of children.”