Stone crime wave

Community leaders are demanding police action as their town continues to be plagued by "alarming" levels of crime and anti-social behaviour.

The most recent high-profile crimes committed in Stone were two arson attacks within the space of eight hours last weekend.

But the past few months have also seen incidents of racist graffiti, smashed windows, burglaries, drug-dealing and threatening behaviour in the town.

Now the matter has been raised with Staffordshire’s police, fire and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis.

In a letter to Mr Ellis, local councillor Jill Hood said: “During the weekend Stone was subject to two arson attacks. One was set in a residential home on Granville Terrace and two fires were set in The Old Fire Station, on Crown Wharf. Fortunately, the fires were spotted in their early stages with the fire service acting quickly and no-one was hurt.

“For months now we have had to put up with anti-social behaviour, starting with obscene pictorial graffiti with racist slurs and words mocking the police.

“Lately we have had windows smashed at businesses and burglaries committed. Staff have been threatened in our supermarkets and shops and property has been vandalised.

“Drug users and dealers have made the most of lockdown, brazenly wandering around the town. Residents are continually using social media to post CCTV images to warn us that people are trying to get into their homes and trying car doors and that they have had their property broken into, or to beware prowlers in gardens.

“Video images showing people in the High Street in the middle of the night have been shared. Residents tell me they have caught intruders in their gardens and when asked why they haven’t called the police they tell me there’s no point as they won’t come and will do nothing.”

Stone MP Sir Bill Cash has also written to Mr Ellis.

He said: “I am profoundly disturbed about the recent, serious reports I am receiving from many of my constituents.

“They tell me of increasing and alarming levels of crime in Stone over recent months – reports of windows being smashed, anti-social behaviour, violence, theft, criminal damage and mindless vandalism, drugs abuse and arson.

“I am told incidents are being reported almost daily in the community and residents are afraid when they go out and are in their own homes. They tell me they feel there is a lack of visible policing in the local area.

“I am certain this has to be dealt with at once and I would like to know, in detail, what steps are being taken and how many officers are being put on to solve this problem.”

Mr Ellis has told members of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel that ‘Stone is a very, very low crime area’.

He said: “I think there is a little bit of embellishment of what is actually happening there.

“Stone is a very, very low crime area, and still it is a very low crime area. But I have asked officials and spoken to the Chief Constable with regards to what has been going on in Stone.

“I wouldn’t want this to be blown up out of proportion, and I think it is at the moment.

“Any crime is a bother to communities and to local people. But the sense that there is a massive crimewave running through Stone at the moment, I have to say I don’t agree with that.

“There are some specific issues that need dealing with, and the chief constable is looking at those at the moment. Staffordshire Police have been very proactive, and I understand that there are one or two people in the last 48 hours who are now not free to do what they were doing and are in fact in police custody.”

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