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Neighbourhood groups should tackle rise in car vandalism

A CALL for residents to form community neighbourhood groups to work together in tackling the increase of car vandalism across the town, has been made by the Mayor  of Melksham, cllr Adrienne Westbrook.

She raised the issue after online criticism of police reaction to the vandalism, saying there are insufficient police available, due to cuts,  to deal with this level of crime.

A number of cars across the Malvern Close, Tower Road, Blackmore Road and Ferris Grove areas were damaged on Monday 2nd April between approximately 3am and 9am.

It is believed a sharp instrument was used to cause scratch marks and cause damage to approximately 16 cars.

PC Paul Baldock said, “Damage of this nature causes expense and inconvenience for the owners of the vehicles – it is mindless vandalism and will not be tolerated.

“We’d like to hear from any residents who may have information – do you remember seeing anyone in the area acting suspiciously around vehicles? Any information you have could help, so please get in touch via 101.

“Meanwhile, our enquiries are continuing and we have conducted house-to-house enquiries in the area. We’d encourage residents to park in well-lit areas where possible – please be assured we are doing all we can to find those responsible.”

But a local resident, whose car was damaged earlier, on  Sunday 25th March, says the police are not acting quickly enough to deal with evidence left at the scene. Whilst their car was vandalised, an empty can was left under their windscreen wiper, providing possible evidence, and so they contacted the police.

However, they waited over a week for the police to collect the empty can and they made attempts to take the can directly to the police. When they took it to the police station, they were told that evidence could not be taken over the counter. The police collected the evidence from the resident’s home on Friday 6th April and was advised by police officers that there is currently a four-month backlog in the forensics department.

The resident said, “I’m not sure if any other people have had evidence left behind, but I would very much like the can to be finger printed. If other people have evidence, surely this can be pieced together to catch the offenders. People work hard for their assets and no-one has the right to damage them or even encroach on a private driveway to cause damage.”

This news of evidence has sparked online comments including resident Paul Lambert who said,  “A lot of the Facebook comments on sham shout outs etc seem to indicate that “the police are not interested” or that they were not, before they realised how many cars were vandalised.

“Wouldn’t it be better if the police “were interested” before so many thousands of pounds worth of damage had been caused? I don’t want to live in a place where police do nothing when crimes of this nature occur.”

In reply, the Mayor said, “I’m not surprised that a communication block is causing irritation to residents, again cuts to the police service is causing this.

“I think residents need to form community/neighbourhood groups to try and work together to find evidence that can be used by the police. These attacks are getting worse and the cuts in police numbers mean that they just do not have the officers available for this level of crime, which is serious for the residents who have been targeted, but the police seem to think is low level crime. It’s annoying to fix and is completely mindless and thoughtless.”

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