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Fears over armed youths expressed at Northumberland Heath meeting between residents and police

PUBLISHED: 11:15 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:54 23 June 2017

Northumberland Heath Recreation Ground

Northumberland Heath Recreation Ground

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The meeting took place on Thursday

At a sweltering hot meeting on Thursday night, temperatures rose as Northumberland Heath homeowners warned of racial abuse, intimidation, theft and anti-social behaviour in the area.

A packed out Northumberland Heath Social Club came to hear how police were cracking down on anti-social behaviour in the area, which has been highlighted as the borough’s number one priority.

Inspector Darren Murphy was drafted into the town to ‘keep a lid’ on disorder in the wake of a mass brawl which saw more than 100 school children armed with knives and baseball bats fighting in the town last September, and encouraged the need for greater dialogue between police and residents.

Nine months on from the incident, Insp Murphy said: “I want to develop the use of Section 60 stop and searches, so if we hear of any problems our officers can stop and search anyone in the area without grounds, we’ve come away from that recently but following an increase in violence and knife crime it’s come to a point where we need to do it.

“We’ve identified a number of the youths and have established most of them aren’t from here, for whatever reason there coming in from surrounding areas such as Woolwich and are doing what they do, we’ve upped resources here, you can imagine how difficult that’s been during the events in London, but we still manage to have a safer neighbourhood team as well as the two officers working later in the night.

“We’re working with businesses such as Tesco to cut down on theft and loitering as well as with TfL to get Oyster cards taken away so these youths can’t make their way into the area.”

But as calls came for a proactive approach, Insp Murphy assured work was being done together with street pastors to work with the youngsters, combined with work from schools.

“Our intelligence is improving, three months ago I couldn’t have told residents when there were going to be problems, but now we’re getting calls from parents, neighbours and schools telling us what is going on,” said Insp Murphy.

“Once we know what’s happening we can put dispersal orders in place to stop it, and we need that support to continue by residents contacting their local neighbourhood team NorthumberlandHeath.snt@met.pnn.police.uk.”

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