Rise in violence since Harold Hill skatepark opening
15:17 28 August 2014
Groups of youths clashing in a new skatepark have led to an increase in violent crimes at a Harold Hill park.
A senior councillor has warned of a small group of people “ruining the park for others” and special constables have been deployed to patrol Central Park over the summer holidays.
In the past three months there have been 20 crimes. Nine were violent, and as serious as grievous and actual bodily harm.
Insp John Goodwin, of Havering Police, said: “Since the skatepark began being used, we have had users coming in from across the borough and some from a fair distance away.
“We found there was a flurry of clashes with locals and outsiders. People who go to the skatepark go to enjoy themselves, but they come into contact with other users of the park.”
He said that part-time officers, known as special constables, had been drafted in to watch out for the offenders, whose ages have ranged from 12 to 17.
This summer the special constables have spent more than 550 hours patrolling the park, which opened in April.
“In response to youths clashing and causing a disturbance, Gooshays Neighbourhood Policing Team and Havering Council’s Parks Enforcement Team have increased,” Insp Goodwin added.
Cllr Melvin Wallace, cabinet member for culture and community engagement, said the council “will not stand for any anti-social behaviour or violence in our parks”.
He said: “A small group of people seem to be ruining the park for others, but I want to reassure residents that we’re doing everything we can to put a stop to this.”
Of the crimes between May 19 and August 18 – as well as the violent crimes – four were thefts, four were public order and two were criminal damage.
Insp Goodwin said: “The patrols are scheduled to continue throughout the summer and beyond should the need arise.”
Three youths have signed contracts with the police to ensure their “acceptable behaviour” and they have so far kept to them, according to the inspector.