1:29pm Wednesday 20th February 2013
By Anna Slater
There is no “silver bullet” to tackling anti-social behaviour, according to a new senior policeman who aims to stamp it out for good in Borehamwood.
But Neighbourhood Inspector for Hertsmere Richard Johnson, who joined the force two weeks ago, plans to make beating anti-social behaviour in Borehamwood his top priority.
The stern warning comes as residents in Crown Road, Alban Crescent and Eldon Avenue claim they are being taunted by yobs as young as 14 and fear the youths could end up “killing someone”.
Insp Johnson said officers have started regular patrols to deter the rowdy children or to catch them in the act.
But he admitted it would not be an easy fix because things were not always “black and white”.
He added: “It is very difficult because they are just children and we need to work out the best way to stop them making residents’ lives a misery.
“They are not all bad; most of the time they are just bored, so I am looking into diversion schemes to give them something else to focus on.
“It is hard to help the children without their parents' support. Sometimes we send the parents on parenting courses. This is not a punishment – it is a way to help them control their teenagers.
“At other times parents are threatened with evictions to make them scared they will lose their homes – usually it makes them stop their children's bad behaviour.
“We can also contact social services. Children causing trouble are usually already known to them.”
Children can be handed anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) if they causing a nuisance to residents, banning them from being in a certain place at certain times.
The force can also issue acceptable behaviour agreements, forbidding them from carrying out acts that are considered anti-social, but not serious enough to warrant an ASBO.
Last year, a six-month dispersal order was created in Alban Crescent to give police powers to break up groups of two or more people harassing residents in the area.
Residents in the anti-social behaviour hot-spots have called on the council to install CCTV cameras in the area – but Inspector Johnson said this would have to be justified.
He added: “Some people think cameras are quite intrusive, so we have to think about residents on the street and their privacy before we go ahead with anything.
“We do take everything very seriously though and know some victims are more vulnerable than others, so we try to give people the best service we can.”
Insp Johnson said it is important to be as sensitive as possible when dealing with crime.
“Sometimes we put measures in and there is a period of calm but it starts up again, so we need to find out what works.
“We need to be absolutely sure we are punishing the right child. There is no silver bullet to tackling this – but I hope to be a fresh pair of eyes in the area to help stop it from happening.”
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