Yob problem: We're fighting back!

Bottles and drug paraphernalia left outside the day care centre on Queen Street in Golborne
Bottles and drug paraphernalia left outside the day care centre on Queen Street in Golborne
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Police and the council have strongly defended their efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour following criticism by a former councillor.

Golborne resident Peter Franzen said not enough had been done about a spate of serious incidents in the town centre involving gangs of youths.

Peter Franzen

Peter Franzen

Mr Franzen said dozens of young people could be seen at weekends close to the library and the day care centre on Queen Street drinking and taking drugs.

He also expressed alarm about potential drug dealing on a public car park.

Mr Franzen also referenced incidents in August where youths damaged the CCTV camera at Golborne Library and got on to the roof of the day care centre.

However, both Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have responded strongly to Mr Franzen’s suggestion that little has been done to tackle the problem.

They said some of the things he is asking for, such as CCTV footage from cameras owned by the town hall being passed onto the police, are already being done.

Mr Franzen said: “We’ve got young kids, some I would say as young as 12, taking this stuff while drinking vodka. I’ve reported this to the Chief Constable and to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and I feel like I’ve got absolutely nowhere.

“One evening there were up to 50 youths there. They always leave all the bottles around the area and I’ve seen little packets which I’ve been told contain Spice.

“What makes me very angry is these vehicles on the car park at the back of the library. Some of them are worth serious money and there’s often a crowd of young people around them.

“There are cameras all around and this can be monitored.

“I’ve been working with several other people in Golborne who are concerned about this. The police don’t seem to be able to do anything about it.”

Mr Franzen acknowledged the problems were worst during the school summer holidays, with things calming down slightly since the start of term in September.

However, he says there are still young people loitering in groups in the centre of Golborne most evenings, with the biggest numbers congregating on Friday and Saturday nights.

Unhappy residents have shared pictures of panels at the library being damaged on social media.

An incident in mid-August in which offensive signs were daubed on Bridgewater Day Centre on Queen Street and the CCTV cameras were vandalised led to an outburst of public anger, with staff at the day facility saying youths hanging around were a major problem and the town hall condemning the vandalism.

Around a week later Mr Franzen reported youths on the day care centre roof, saying they were threatening towards him when he challenged what they were doing.

In response to that incident, on August 31, GMP said it had been logged as a disturbance and neighbourhood teams were devoting extra attention to the location.

The force has also given a more detailed explanation of its efforts to rid the area of anti-social behaviour.

Sgt Darren Agnew of GMP’s Wigan borough said: “We are sorry that a local Golborne resident feels that we haven’t done enough in the area to tackle the anti-social behaviour which has been reported.

“I’d like to assure him that we are taking the issue very seriously and have taken a number of steps to tackle this kind of behaviour.

“We have increased patrols in Golborne, ensuring that additional officers are there at the times and days that are considered hotspots.

“Officers in Golborne are using contact cards when speaking to victims, enabling us to work closely with partners to provide the right interventions and work to resolve the issue.

“The local neighbourhood team have been working closely with schools, speaking directly to students about the risks of anti-social behaviour and the consequences this can have.

“With a targeted, partnership approach, we’ve made a number of changes in our local policing in an effort to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the anti-social behaviour that the resident has raised.”

Wigan Council also reassured the public it was doing its bit.

A town hall spokesperson said: “The CCTV cameras are continuously monitored in Golborne and we have retrieved images of both people and vehicles.

“These have been passed to the police and our the council’s anti-social behaviour teams for investigation.”

Concerns about anti-social behaviour should be raised with the police by ringing 101 or calling independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.