Sunday, 18 August 2019

CCTV ruled out as answer to problems at skate park

CCTV ruled out as answer to problems at skate park

CCTV is unlikely to be installed at Henley skate park due to the cost and manpower.

It was one of a series of suggestions made following a public meeting to discuss problems at the facility in Makins recreation ground, off Greys Road.

As the Henley Standard reported last week, the meeting heard from residents about incidents of drug dealing, bullying and antisocial
behaviour.

Afterwards, they used feedback forms to suggest possible solutions, including installing CCTV, punishing offenders with bans and bringing in volunteers to supervise the area.

The residents also said the Nomad youth and community project could extend its existing outreach programme and called for better drug and education programmes in the town’s schools and among families.

They also said councillors, police and other public bodies should campaign against “postcode discrimination” in which Henley supposedly receives less funding for services than other towns because of the perception that it is wealthy. Town councillor Paula Isaac, who chaired the meeting at the scout hut nearby, said it was a success.

Speaking at a meeting of the town council’s recreation and amenities committee, she said: “I’m pleased to say it was a positive meeting and has given us lots of ways to move forward.

“I completely understand people’s concerns but hopefully we can avoid it becoming a focus for negativity by having these kinds of discussions instead of just having people complaining on social media.

“As we stressed on the night, we must move residents towards reporting incidents to the police as they’ve only received a tiny amount of calls. Without the official figures, they won’t know what’s happening or be able to prioritise that area.” Councillor Lawrence Plant suggested signs warning youngsters of the consequences of misbehaving but others said this might give the area a poor image.

Councillor Kellie Hinton said that South Oxfordshire District Council would not support CCTV so the town council would have to find the money and staff hours to monitor cameras and store footage in line with data protection laws.

She said: “It’s not just a case of installing them and letting someone else do the work which is why, although we haven’t abandoned it, we’re holding back for now to get our ducks in a row. Other places have it far worse than us and I’ve found the police to be very responsive. There is something to be said for having an adult presence up there more often.”

Councillor Sarah Miller said: “It’s very sad because we built that skate park and can’t keep giving kids things to do to take their minds off being antisocial. We need to get the community involved in the long run but is there a quick fix? I’ve always thought CCTV was the way forward but didn’t realise it would be so expensive for us. I also don’t want to reach the point where no one goes up there any more.”

Councillor David Eggleton said: “If you install CCTV the trouble will move somewhere else.

“You’ve got to look at the root cause and engage with some of the youngsters, who were the only group that didn’t attend that meeting. If you just go up to them you’ll be lucky to even get their name but if you organise some activities, give them a sense of purpose, that’s very helpful. I used to do youth work with the old youth centre and you need different activities for different groups.

“This isn’t as bad as it has been made out — there’s no more than what goes on in the rest of the town. I’ve been there on loads of occasions when there’s been nothing bad happening. The skate park was built to attract people so a certain amount of problems can be expected.”

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