Park troubles double

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THE full extent of the public disorder centred around a Wigan park has been laid bare for the first time by shock new statistics.

Crime figures obtained by the Wigan Evening Post reveal that reported incidents of anti-social behaviour in the Ashton postcode area WN4 have nearly DOUBLED in just a month.

Residents living near to Ashton’s Jubilee Park - where a majority of the disorder has taken place - have spoken of their fear to leave their homes in recent months.

The latest available figures show that incidents increased from 63 in September to 119 in October, the month that many of the most violent flare-ups occurred. This represents an increase of just under 90 per cent.

Anti-social behaviour accounts for almost half the recorded crime in the WN4 over the last 12 months, the official statistics also reveal.

Gangs of youths have initiated running battles with police officers, targeted fire crews with missiles, attacked local residents and repeatedly smashed bus shelters in Ashton since October prompting a cross authority response.

Wigan and Leisure Culture Trust officers have started to lock park gates at night and have cut back bushes so that offenders are not able to hide in them.

And the council and Greater Manchester Police have enforced dispersal orders - meaning groups of two or more can be moved on - around the park and nearby Chantry Walk, another crime hot-spot.

Ashton and Bryn Labour councillors told the Evening Post that the measures had started to take effect.

A statement on behalf of Couns Nigel Ash, Joel Haddley, Bill Clarke and Ann Rampling said: “Residents have commented to us how things have improved since the action taken by the police and the council.

“We all believe very firmly that the only way to deal with anti-social behaviour is for the council, the police and residents to work together to combat the problem. This approach has shown to be very effective around Jubilee Park.

“Naturally we are not complacent. If there are further signs of ASB, then residents should dial 101 or contact us as we do have regular contact with the police.”

Coun Kevin Anderson, cabinet member for safer communities, said the council was “pleased with the response” from the measures put in place.

The spate of violent incidents had prompted the creation of the Ashton Residents’ Association, who at their first meeting expressed concern that reporting incidents to the police’s 101 number was ineffective and that their worries were not being taken into account.

A spokesman for GMP said that a review on how effective the measures put in place to tackle ASB in the area had been would take place in early 2014.