When youth crime escalates

For years youth nuisance has been identified as Wigan residents' number one cause for complaints.

In the majority of cases it is simply a question of people feeling threatened by gatherings of teenagers. Often they are doing little more than congregating on a street corner or park and perhaps making a bit of noise.

But the concerns are certainly not always unfounded. Over the years the Evening Post has reported enough incidents and complaints to know that these gatherings can get out of hand, especially when alcohol and sometimes drugs are involved.

Alley gates are not springing up all over the borough just for decorative purposes. In many cases they are to keep troublesome gangs at bay.

Residents of Beech Hill and Ashton-in-Makerfield are among those who have complained of petty vandalism by youths. Small fires have been lit, garden fences broken down, litter dropped and graffiti sprayed.

One has to wonder why there are not more tragedies like that suffered by Garry Newlove. It could be an

increasing tendency among the public to avoid getting involved for fear of attracting more trouble.

Wigan folk do not need long memories to recall the tragedy of Mi Gao Huang Chen, the Scholes takeaway owner who three years ago tried to take on youths that he blamed for vandal attacks on his business.

He paid with his life, his young tormentors battering him to death in the street.

Tragically there have been other cases around the country where men have died defending their property or neighbourhoods.

And there have been other horrendous local incidents when someone has crossed a large gang of youths.

One victim was 39-year-old John Robson who was left blinded in one eye after being battered unconscious by a mob of up to 40 youngsters. They attacked him because he refused to buy them alcohol from an off-

licence.

The Worsley Mesnes scaffolder, set upon in Warrington Road, Goose Green, in March 2001, faced months of reconstructive surgery to his battered face.

His right eye was damaged beyond saving.