A Canvey resident who is fed-up with anti-social behaviour on the island has written an open letter to Roger Hirst who is the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex.
We have published Colin Letchford’s letter in full below, after removing his address.
I note you will be in attendance at a Castle Point Public Meeting on Monday, December 11th. I expect to be in hospital recovering from an operation then but I write to you on behalf of thousands of concerned residents living on Canvey Island.
For many months now the Island has been plagued with groups of young boys (11 – 16 years of age) behaving in anti-social and dangerous ways. These include:
• Riding their bikes on the pavements and roads. Riding off the pavement in front of cars causing an emergency stop by the vehicle. I know of one road traffic collision caused in this manner. This has happened many times. Sometimes they do “wheelies” in the moving traffic or ride head long into oncoming cars.
• Breaking wing mirrors off cars. Recently they lined their “trophies” up on a bench in Kismet Park. When local residents spoke to the boys they were verbally abused. This is only one incident of a night time spree breaking off the wing mirrors. Many other similar events have been reported in the press and social media in recent months.
• Throwing eggs, fruit and stones at people in the street and at houses. A local jeweller in the High Street informs me that a few days ago they opened the door to his shop and threw eggs at an elderly lady customer before running off.
• Congregating outside local public buildings, such as the Paddocks or fast food shops, and abusing those inside as well as trying to damage doors etc.
• Intimidating mothers with young children. They recently tried to push a six year old over in the street.
• Damaging children’s playground equipment. I stopped three last Saturday morning trying to break equipment at St George’s playing field.
The list goes on and I am sure the police can give you details of more incidents.
I am the Chairman of a charity (The Friends of Concord Beach) and each year we bring joy to many Islanders (young and old) with our Santa’s Sleigh. The sleigh with reindeer and snow machines, lights and music is generously provided by a local shop, G M D Ltd.
For several years now we have started the festivities by leading the Lantern Parade organised by Canvey Carnival Committee. The parade is attended by thousands of Islanders and has a great community spirit.
This year’s parade was last Saturday. On our way home stones were thrown at us by a group of the above mentioned boys as we rounded the Haystack Corner.
One of the stones hit Santa (me) hard on the shoulder. Further down the road boys ran in front of our tow vehicle causing an emergency stop.
This has been reported to the police who are treating it as an assault, Crime No. 42/171043/17, but I am told there is little they can do.
We are now having to treat our Town Centre as a “NO GO AREA” and I am given to understand that another group with a sleigh are feeling the same.
I have looked at your website and note you say:
“For me, safe and secure communities are the bedrock on which we build success and prosperity. Good policing means our residents feel secure and safe in their homes and on Essex streets.”
I have to tell you that many of the residents of Canvey Island feel neither safe nor secure on Canvey’s streets. Many with cars do not feel safe in their homes. We should not have to live with “No Go Areas”.
The Police seem impotent in the face of these feral youngsters and there is much rage on the Island as can be seen on local media. There is talk of vigilante groups wearing balaclavas to give these youngsters a good hiding, or of not doing an emergency stop next time and running them over.
Sooner or later someone is going to be seriously hurt.
As you can see this is an open letter sent to the local press and published on local media. I would like you to address the issues outlined above at the Castle Point Public Meeting on December 11th when I am sure Canvey residents will be in attendance.
Yours sincerely, Colin Letchford
Header Image Credit: Wikipedia