Gay couple forced to sleep in hotel after attacks

A Stevenage woman and her partner claim they are being forced to sleep in a hotel rather than their home because of abuse by school children and neighbours.

Bernadine Phillips and her partner, who did not want to be named, said they have been verbally abused in the street and suffered repeated attacks on their flat in Baddley Close, Stevenage, because they are gay.

“It’s a group of Barnwell School kids and adults in the local area,” Ms Philips said. “Our property is quite vulnerable where we live. We’ve had stones and snowballs thrown at our windows and abuse in the street. Our door is being kicked. We’ve had our door replaced. We’ve got bad scratches on our windows.

“We are worried about going out of the front door. They have threatened to kill us,” she added.

“It’s when they are on the way to school and on the way home. But we’ve had incidents at one or two o’clock in the morning which were probably not kids.”

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“It’s been going on for years. It’s got to the point where we are staying in Ibis. We just can’t handle it any more.”

She said they have installed CCTV to monitor attacks and handed images to the police, as well as reporting anti-social behaviour to the school and the council, but the problem continues.

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Headteacher Vivien Swaida said: “Barnwell School has always maintained an excellent reputation for its outstanding relationships with the local community, which were commented upon by Ofsted.

“We continue to support the police and residents to resolve the complaints that have been made and we are confident that we can continue to support our neighbours to resolve this difficulty.”

Stevenage Safer Neighbourhoods Inspector Simon Tabert said his team has “dedicated a significant level of resources” to investigating the allegations of anti-social behaviour.

“Police, Stevenage Homes, the local school and the council have been working in partnership to address issues and find a long term sustainable solution,” he said. “We are working closely with the school and have spoken to several young people about their behaviour and have also contacted their parents.”

He added that the investigation is ongoing, following several leads.

He urged anyone suffering anti-social behaviour to call officers on 08453 300222, or 999 if the incident is ongoing.

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