POLICE and councillors say they are cracking down on anti-social behaviour from a gang of 20 youths in Batley who have made residents’ lives hell.
A group of locals, who didn’t want to be named, contacted The Press in a bid to put a stop to the yobs “running amok on the streets” – because they felt that police weren’t doing enough to help.
But this week a spokesman said the force is aware of the incidents and officers are doing all they can to tackle the problem.
One woman – who lives close to Centenary Way where residents say most of the anti-social behaviour is taking place – said her and neighbours have simply had enough.
She says the group, aged between 12 and 16, have been tormenting residents up Centenary Way for the last two years.
The gang has allegedly smashed windows in houses, damaged dozens of cars, been verbally abusive, intimidating, and constantly ride motorbikes anti-socially at all hours of the day and night.
Another resident said: “Something needs to be done sooner rather than later. They think they’re invincible because of their age.”
Similar incidents have been reported in Birstall and Batley town centre, believed to be caused by the same group of youths.
Paul Halloran, who is standing in Batley West for the Heavy Woollen Independents in May’s local elections, was present at a recent meeting with residents and said: “People have a right to live in their own property in safety. Before long people will take matters into their own hands. Enough is enough.”
And while residents have criticised police for not taking stronger action, a spokesman for WYP said: “Officers from Batley & Spen NPT are aware of incidents in the area relating to anti-social behaviour.
“The incidents date back to February 6, with instances of anti-social behaviour involving a small number of local youths.
“The group were reported to be trespassing onto a site with derelict buildings.
“A 15-year-old male was arrested and charged with a public order offence, threats to commit criminal damage and attempting to commit criminal damage and will be appearing at Youth Court early next month.
“Since then, further incidents have been reported to police about a group of youths causing issues in Batley town centre. As a result patrols were increased in the town centre. These increased high visibility patrols remain ongoing, particularly on weeknight evenings and weekends.
“Around 20 youths, both males and females aged between 12 and 16 years old, have been identified and so far 10 anti-social behaviour warning letters and two acceptable behaviour contracts have been issues, with further work ongoing. Investigations remain ongoing into several linked offences of criminal damage in the area.”
Sgt Anita Patel, of Batley & Spen NPT, added: “Since we have been receiving reports of anti-social behaviour, we have taken positive action to tackle these problems. There are a number of ongoing criminal investigations and we have arrested and charged a youth who will be appearing at court next month.
“We are continually working in conjunction with partners from Kirklees Council and Kirklees Housing to tackle these issues. This includes using wider powers such as dispersal notices and other proportionate enforcement action.
“Anyone with any information about any criminality or anti-social behaviour in and around the Batley & Spen area are urged to contact the police. We act on all intelligence passed to us by our communities and it can often prove vital in our investigations.”
Batley West councillors Gwen Lowe and Shabir Pandor have also vowed to help put a stop to the behaviour
In a joint statement they said: “Kirklees Council understands and appreciates residents’ concerns over any form of anti-social behaviour and strongly believes it should not be tolerated. This is why Safer Kirklees have been working with its partners, including police to tackle anti-social behaviour in Batley West.
“On a weekly basis, Safer Kirklees Community and Environmental Support Officers (CESOs) works in the area to gather intelligence, provide reassurance and encourage reporting of any anti-social incidents. The CESOs have spoken to many residents and businesses, and reporting leaflets left at a number or properties.
“They have also worked in conjunction with the CCTV van on various streets/areas such as Centenary Way, near the town hall and other areas at key times to provide assurance and deter further incidents.
“A multi-agency meeting has been held with residents from a particular street to look at further action and support. These residents reported a decrease in incidents since the council became involved. In addition, Safer Kirklees Neighbourhoods Officers have been dealing with two referrals from Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing about the issues and are looking at proportionate enforcement action.
“If anyone has any concerns or issues around crime or anti-social behaviour they can contact us and we will help as we always do. The council believes it is doing all it can, in conjunction with its partners, to combat anti-social behaviour and will take action against those who commit these acts.”
Batley & Spen MP Tracy Brabin added: “This is something I have been made aware of and I know that anti-social behaviour can be hugely damaging to communities.
“I am in close contact with the police and local agencies to see what steps can be taken to address this issue. If any local residents or businesses who have reported this to the authorities and do not feel they’ve had a satisfactory response then please contact my office on 01924 900036 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.”