Teenage gang causing terror at Wigan doctor's surgery

A Wigan doctor's surgery is being besieged by teenage yobs who intimidate staff and patients as they try to get into the building.
The health centre which is repeatedly under attack by teenage gangsThe health centre which is repeatedly under attack by teenage gangs
The health centre which is repeatedly under attack by teenage gangs

Every evening a group of up to 20 youngsters turns up at Intrahealth GP Surgery, in Marsh Green, and causes problems.

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Staff have been forced to lock the glass doors, so they can only be opened from the inside, in a bid to keep the youths out.

But they try everything they can to open the doors and get inside.

Practice manager Charlotte Convery said: “They are trying to open the door, kicking it, punching it, spitting all over it, kicking things on the outside. They are calling staff names, all kinds of horrendous names.

“They are threatening that if we don’t open the door, they are going to kick it down. They have their faces covered with their hoods up, all dressed in black.

“They are girls and boys aged 13 to 16.”

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They tend to arrive between 6pm and 7pm, when only a lone woman is on duty on reception and it is dark outside.

Patients have to walk through the gang as they arrive and leave the practice and staff carefully open the doors to let them inside, while making sure the teenagers do not get in too.

The teenagers’ behaviour does not change even if there are children in the waiting area.

Mrs Convery added: “Staff are scared, they are intimidated and feel threatened by them because there are so many of them.

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“The staff are on their own and the doctor is in their room seeing patients, but they can hear all the noise.

“Patients are disgusted that there are kids doing this when we are a medical centre and here to provide a service for patients.

“The staff can’t do their work because it’s that bad.”

Receptionist Julie Barker said the desk where she sits is just six feet from the doors the youths are kicking and punching.

One of them played loud music from a speaker as the group tried to get in.

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Last week a woman ran to the surgery with a baby who needed medical attention and had to go through the group of youths to get inside.

Mrs Barker struggles to know when to open the doors in case the teenagers get in.

She said: “I feel awful and so torn. I don’t know what to do.

“If they do get in, I don’t know what they will do.

“An old man arrived and I didn’t know if I should let him in in case they came in, but they might have had a go at him. They’re frightening.”

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Mrs Convery said the problems started after she occasionally let groups of two girls use the surgery’s toilets.

That increased to six girls and they started causing problems in the centre, flooding the toilets and smoking, she said.

But she does not know why the large group returns every day and why they want to get into the centre.

She said: “Why are they doing this and why do they feel the need to come here, a general practice, when we are here to provide a service for their mums or dads or grandparents or siblings?

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“How would they like it if we treated their parents like they are treating us?

“Do their parents know what their kids are up to at night?”

Mrs Convery said the problem was getting worse and she is looking into erecting a screen on the reception desk to protect staff.

Police have been called several times - although their sirens warned the youths they were on their way last week and they ran away.

The youths have been caught on CCTV cameras and Mrs Convery has contacted schools in the area to make them aware of the problem.

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Sergeant Melanie Roberts from GMP’s Wigan Borough said: “In recent weeks we have been made aware of a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in the Marsh Green area.

“On January 16 and February 7 police were called to the Marsh Green Surgery to reports of youths entering the surgery, being abusive and causing damage.

“The neighbourhood officer is currently investigating both matters.

“We have been working closely with Wigan Council, including their youth provision and anti-social behaviour teams as well as Tenancy Enforcement and Targeted Services to try to tackle the issues in Marsh Green.

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“We are currently looking at ways to supply further youth provision as well as assisting in enforcement action with Wigan Council tenants where their children have been engaged in anti-social behaviour.

“Marsh Green has been highlighted by GMP as a high demand area for provisions to prevent anti-social behaviour.

“As such the area has been awarded £20,000 from the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS) and Wigan Council.

“Local people and community groups are invited to apply for a slice of this funding, applications close on Wednesday and there will be an event on Saturday, March 3 at St Barnabas Church Hall, where those who have applied will be invited to pitch their applications.

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“There is still time to apply for this funding, applications and for further information contact [email protected].

“As we continue to work in partnership to tackle this anti-social behaviour, it’s really important that any offences are reported to police so that we can act on it at the earliest possible opportunity.

“We can be contacted on 101 or through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”