Drug dealing, vehicle theft, and break-ins are being targeted in Biggleswade, as the police, town council and Central Bedfordshire Council are rallying together to stop criminals at their game.
A crack down on drug dealing is ongoing, with local PCSO Ann Jeeves writing a letter to the November 12 town council meeting, detailing the force’s efforts to stop illegal substances being exchanged at McDonald’s, Eagle Farm basketball court, and Dark Lane.
There was also welcome news from guest speaker, PCC Kathryn Holloway, who told councillors that she had secured additional funding for police officers in Bedfordshire.
In her letter to the town council, PCSO Jeeves said: “My colleague PCSO Jessica Hirst has been speaking to the manager at the McDonald’s Biggleswade unit and he is very eager for us to hold surgeries/drop in sessions there.
“As you can imagine our presence whilst carrying out these engagements in and around McDonalds should discourage this activity.
“As for the drug activity around the basketball court (Eagle Farm) we can carry out patrols, engaging with the young people, and try to establish who is involved and when this is happening. The input the council will be having around submitting intelligence and report will help us achieve this.”
PCSO Jeeves also noted that since the problem in Dark Lane was reported, the local policing team had held patrols, reviewed CCTV, put up posters, and asked if overgrown shrubs could be cut back. A resident then reported that the problems had stopped.
Biggleswade Town Councillor Duncan Strachan said: “I am the council’s liaison officer with the police and have meetings with with Chief Superintendent David Boyle.
“If we pick up bits and pieces of information, we can feed this to police intelligence.
“At the moment there is a concern about county lines issues; McDonald’s is near the A1 and we are also on a main [train] line to London.
“However, I think that the police resources in the community of Biggleswade are getting better and better and communications are getting better for residents .
“It is important; if people have a crime committed against them then they absolutely must report it as it feeds into intelligence.”
He added: “There has also been a spate of thefts from commercial premises around the town centre and I am liaising closely with the police at the moment.”
Meanwhile, in the St Andrew’s estate, three councillors have been working with Bellway Homes and Bloor Homes to reduce the number of vehicles being broken into or stolen.
Central Bedfordshire and Town Councillor, Ian Bond, said: “This has been work involving councillors Stephen Watkins (CBC), Mark Knight (BTC) and myself. We are working with the police who are organising an EVA ( environmental visual assessment) are also working with CBC Highways who have influence with the developer as the roads have not yet been adopted.
“These changes include, hedging and improved fencing and lighting (new columns and changes to double head columns).”
Ismail Anilmis, Franchisee at Biggleswade McDonald’s said:“We understand that we have a duty to the community to ensure that our restaurants are safe places for our staff and our customers. We have recently opened our restaurant up to be used by the police as a place to interact with the general public. It will be happening again in December.”
A Bloor Homes spokeswoman, said: “Bloor Homes and Bellway Homes have worked closely with Central Bedfordshire Council during the planning and construction of the St Andrew’s Park development.
“All safety features including street lighting and boundary treatment such as fencing and hedging were given full consideration at the time of the planning application. Bloor Homes takes the issue of crime seriously on all of their developments and we make all efforts to ensure that we support the local council on any initiatives that are proposed to reduce crime.”
An additional 54 officers will be recruited into Bedfordshire Police in 2020-21.
Inspector Nick Masters said: “We are continuing to work with the council and other partners to address concerns raised by local residents about drug dealing and other associated issues in the town.
“One particular area of concern was reported drug dealing activity, our team of PCs and PCSOs have been speaking to local businesses and are holding community surgeries and drop in sessions to listen to the concerns of the residents to develop information that they may have.
“Activity at Dark Lane has also been raised as a concern, and as a result officers and PCSOs have spent a lot of time in the area to speak to residents, gather information and intelligence and carry out foot patrols, taking positive action where possible.
“Whilst we have seen an increase in burglaries at businesses premises in the town centre we are working closely with retailers, the council and the Biggleswade Community Partnership Group to address these issues and offer support ahead of Christmas. Investigations into the incidents are currently ongoing and we are following several lines of enquiry.
“We review reports of vehicle theft on a daily basis and look to take forward positive line of enquiry where we can. However, it’s important that anyone who has been a victim of this type of crime reports the incident to allow us to build a picture of activity or offending in the area so we can take appropriate action.
“Tackling crime is a joint effort between the police, the community and our partners. We continue to engage with our communities, and encourage everyone to come forward if they witness anything suspicious in their area. Please report crime to us by calling 101 or visiting www.bedfordshire.police.uk/report.”
The Chronicle also contacted CBC and Bellway Homes, but did not receive a comment before our press deadline.
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