|Anger grows over boys on bikes|
Residents claim 'feral and malevolent jackals' act with impunity
A new map of the borough showing 'hotspots' for local crime has starkly illustrated the scale of the current problem with vehicle crime in Chiswick. The map, produced by the Hounslow Community Safety Unit, and reproduced below, clearly indicates that the area is the worst affected in the borough for this type of crime.
There is a strong local feeling that the main reason that this type of crime is such a problem is that groups of youths are allowed to ride through the area on bikes peering into cars for items to steal.
One local resident said of the issue , 'our streets are being patrolled by feral and malevolent jackals'.
A senior police officer told ChiswickW4.com that they were very aware of the concerns of residents about car crime and the 'boys on bikes' issue. An analysis has been done of the problem and the figures show that there hasn't been a significant increase in this kind of crime. The police believe that rising public concern about the problem is partly down to residents sharing their experiences on the discussion forum on this site.
Active measures are being taken to combat vehicle crime in the area. Crime prevention officers have used the Ringmaster system and ChiswickW4.com to remind people not to leave valuables in their cars, even hidden in the boot, and they say this has been effective in raising awareness of the issue.
Since the abolition of the 'SUS' laws the police are more constrained in who they can detain and therefore it is impossible for them to arrest youths behaving suspiciously. Other measures such as the use of ASBOs are being considered. The police believe that with a significant number of reports from local residents about persistent offenders it may be possible to use the civil courts to deal with the problem. They are encouraging residents not to tackle individuals who they believe might be about to commit a crime but to call 999.
Local frustration with the issue caused one resident to set up a web site - www.wildwest4.co.uk - berating the authorities for lack of action on the issue and publishing pictures of youths on bikes. At the time of writing the site appears not to be functioning. It is not clear whether this is as a result of threatened legal action.
In a related development Brent Council successfully fought off an appeal in the High Court by four people who had been subject to a ABSO and claimed it was a breach of their human rights that the Council were publicising their images on posters and a web site related to the council.
ChiswickW4.com has been unable to show CCTV stills that have appeared in the local press of possible crime suspects due to legal objections from Hounslow Police. However, it is thought likely that in the near future this policy will be changed. Hounslow were the only borough in West or South West London to have this policy. We cannot however publish pictures of youths sent to us by members who believe they are in the process of committing a crime. We would advise that such images are sent directly to the police.
October 8, 2004