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Bexley police chief plays down gang fears in Northumberland Heath ahead of public meeting

PUBLISHED: 11:52 06 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:20 06 June 2017

Northumberland Heath Social Club

Northumberland Heath Social Club

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The meeting takes place later this month

C. supt Stuart BellC. supt Stuart Bell

Bexley’s senior police officer has denied fears over gang crime in Northumberland Heath ahead of a public meeting this month, but has described violence and anti-social behaviour in the area as his “number one priority”.

The meeting comes in the wake of a mass brawl which broke out between up to 100 school children in September, which one eyewitness described as “mayhem”.

Weeks after the brawl, three men were reportedly attacked by a gang of up to ten youths outside a nearby pub.

Chief superintendent Stuart Bell said: “It is not a gang problem in the sense that there is no organised criminal activity, there does appear to be a dispute between two groups of people, possibly sparked by last year’s incident, right now Northumberland Heath is my number one priority as an area in the borough.

“There have been instances of other, less serious, but worrying violence in the area and we want to speak to the community about this.

“We also have reports of ongoing ASB in the area linked to a number of issues including noise, loitering, littering and damage to property.

“Part of our policing plan is to speak to residents about concerns so we can better understand the causes of these issues, the extent of the problem and explain what we are trying to do about it.

“This includes patrols, use of dispersal powers, engaging with businesses and people living in the areas affected, working with the local authority to look at youth provision in the area and a problem solving initiative with local authority community safety partners.”

“Right now there is a gap in our intelligence and we’re working with young people in a non-confrontational manner and organising this meeting to try and plug that gap.

Residents and traders around the town have been invited to the event, organised together with the council, at Northumberland Heath Social Club in Mill Road at 7pm on June 22.

A council spokesperson added: “This public meeting is an opportunity for residents to speak to police and local authority representatives and as well as somewhere agencies can feedback the action taken to date.”

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