Eye in the sky could be used by police after muggings in park

December 19 2019
Eye in the sky could be used by police after muggings in park

The use of drones could be enforced by police to monitor Victoria Park following a spate of muggings and attacks in the local amenity.

This was one of the possible measures that police officers put forward to dozens of residents at a Victoria Park Action Group (VPAG) meeting to combat the anti-social behaviour and criminal activities which have recently been reported in the area.

Greater Bedminster police officers Ben Jefferies and Colin Hitt attended the meeting to reassure residents that action was being taken and advised that a bid has been submitted to deploy a drone to monitor the park.

Drones have recently been introduced across the constabulary to police public order at events.

However, this drone could be used as a “possible tactic” to track the assailants – believed to be a “very small group of youths”, involving up to five males – moving fast from the scene.

Police said that they are also carrying out high visibility patrols and plain clothes operations in the park.

Residents heard that there had been four reported incidents in the park between November 22-24 – the first incident involved a knife being brandished and a wallet and phone taken.

A second victim had their wallet stolen; another was threatened.

The fourth incident, a park user was attacked with a strip of metal and then punched, but no injuries were caused. 

At the meeting, residents also reported seeing youths on bikes kicking wing mirrors off cars parked in the surrounding streets.

The police confirmed that they were also aware of this problem and urged residents to call 999 if they witness a crime in progress, as a more immediate response can be given.

They advised to call 101 if the incident has already happened. 

Roger Whiter, a local Scout leader, attended the meeting. He said that he had experienced three separate incidents involving teens in and around the park.

On one occasion, he confronted a group of about four youths who were scaling the lodge in the park. “They hurled all sorts of abuse and then swirled around me like dogs,” Mr Whiter recalled.

He said that they then proceeded to run away and “bare their bottoms”.

He reported that one youth had tried to take his bicycle at Bedminster station, and he had also had his pannier bag on his bike grabbed and shook when riding through the park.

Mr Whiter, who has been involved with VPAG for around 20 years, said: “We had this about 10 years ago. It’s important that we don’t make the park a no-go zone. I’m not going to not walk through the park, which I’ve helped make a nice place.”

Police said that they require specific details of those committing an offence, such as details of clothing, bicycles and other identifying features.

CCTV footage or photo evidence is particularly useful if it can be obtained safely.

The police officers said: “These incidents are unusual for Victoria Park. Traditionally, the area has been very crime free.”

Residents were urged “not to lose faith” in the police as they have had some “positive lines of enquiry”. At the meeting, VPAG chair Shaun Hennessy suggested to restart the Parkwatch group, which was in operation 10 years ago, where there would be a presence of volunteers in the park who would wear high-vis tabards and report any incidents.

Those in attendance agreed that this would be a good idea.

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