THERE will be a more visible police presence in Earley following a spate of assaults.
Over the past few weeks, teenagers have had their bikes targeted by gangs across parts of Lower Earley. Although no one has been seriously injured, the attacks have unsettled the community.
Cllr Clive Jones, the leader of Earley Town Council, said that he has spoken with Thames Valley Police in a bid to get to the bottom of the problem.
“They are asking the PCSOs to do some more high visibility patrols around the areas where these problems are occurring. With drugs, they will take a zero tolerance approach.
“I definitely support the police, if we can stop teenagers using drugs at the earliest possible age, there’s a chance of keeping them off drugs.”
He hoped that police officers would have time and resources to visit the affected families to help educate them.
Earley Town Council is planning to increase the budget for youth services, something that Cllr Jones said that his Conservative predecessors had cut several years ago.
“We didn’t have youth workers out of the streets, so in our budget this year the Town Council found some money to support some youth initiatives on the streets and we are beginning to start that,” he explained, adding that Covid-19 had delayed some of these services starting.
He also pledged that the money would be ringfenced.
“We’re losing income from lack of hall hire,” he said. “But when we’re looking at our expenditure, we decided that we would leave youth provision in the budget – we recognise it is very important.”
Cllr Jones also expressed concerns over the issue of police funding nationally.
“Thames Valley Police has had its budget cut by £100 million. Whatever any Conservative home secretary or prime minister says, we have got to get officers on the street.
“We were told in the General Election there were going to be another 20,000 police officers, but that covered the previous cuts and it doesn’t cover the more than 20,000 retirees we will see over the next few years.
“Unfortunately there is some smoke and mirrors from Boris Johnson. If the police were given the resources, they would be able to do a much better job.”
Cllr Jones pledged to continue to monitor the situation and work with the police through initiatives such as the Neighbourhood Action Group.