Gangs of youths are making residents’ lives a misery in Shefford.
And the town’s mayor is urging people to make their concerns known to police in an open meeting today.
There have already been two people badly hurt after being assaulted in the town’s green spaces, and a man was stabbed in the Cornerhouse pub car park following an altercation.
Cllr Paul Mackin said the problem appeared to be two sets of gangs - one aged around 12-15 riding around on bikes with hoodies on, and one with older youths.
“I’ve written to the chief constable and the police commissioner accusing them of failing to provide a fit for purpose police force in the town,” he said.
Parents on social media have reported their own children are too afraid to go out in the evening or walk home from school after being intimidated.
There have been numerous bikes stolen and then dumped, and graffiti on several council signs, costing hundreds of pounds to clean up.
Cllr Mackin said he was concerned some people could be planning to take the law into their own hands over the gangs, and he urged residents to get involved with the meeting today.
“We want as many people as possible to come along and speak to the police.
“We have no response officers available to deal with the problems.”
Cllr Mackin said he was concerned about the risks of vigilante action against the gangs.
“It’s not the right way and can get out of hand so easily,” he said. “There have been suggestions that some people are getting together.
“We want people to join Streetwatch. Watch, observe and report it to the police, don’t get involved. These days it is too dangerous.”
He said he thought the gangs were deliberately provoking some reaction from people.
“We need the police to control them, at the moment they think they can do what they like.”
Inspector Nick Masters said: “We are aware of the concerns of the residents in Shefford and are dedicated to work together with partners and the local authority to tackle the ongoing issues.
“We have recently made nine arrests in relation to nuisance youths in the area and we are seeking a joint problem solving approach to minimise the disruption of this behaviour on the community.
“We understand the impact anti-social behaviour has on residents and we have increased our visibility, including increased patrols, and have taken positive action against problem areas.
“We have listened to the concerns of residents and held engagement days and regular meetings to enable us to address their issues. This requires a multi-agency approach and we are committed to jointly tackling these problem areas and look forward to working alongside partners and the public to improve the experience of all who live in Shefford.”
Together with the PCC the force will meet with Mayor Paul Mackin to discuss policing in Shefford.
The police will be outside Lloyds Pharmacy on the High Street, Shefford between 6pm-8.30pm today.