‘I feel intimidated’ – traders and neighbours speak out over anti-social behaviour at Stevenage shops

Marymead shops in Stevenage has been subject to anti-social behaviour.

Marymead shops in Stevenage has been subject to anti-social behaviour. - Credit: Archant

Traders in a Stevenage shopping precinct and people living nearby have been speaking out about problems caused by intimidating youths in the area, two years after police first tackled the problem.

They say Marymead shopping centre in Broadwater Crescent is a magnet for anti-social behaviour, with teenagers gathering there in the evenings, spitting, smashing bottles and swearing.

One worker said: “There are hordes of youngsters throwing things at each other and using disgusting language.

“I feel intimidated, it’s horrible.”

Racist graffiti is scrawled on the walls leading up to the flats above the shops and a shop window has been smashed with a brick.

Others report trouble-makers riding bikes on the roofs, smashing bottles outside the Co-op and even riding a bath down a flight of stairs.

Another trader complained that the youth centre in the precinct is only open for ‘a couple of hours a week’ and staff do nothing to tackle nuisance behaviour.

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But one mother who lives above the shops said: “I used to hang around the shops years ago. I probably looked intimidating because I was hanging around in groups, but I didn’t think I was at the time. We need to look after these kids.”

A spokesman for Youth Connexions, which runs the youth centre, said young people not involved in the project who get on the roof are asked to get down. He added: “There are approximately 20 to 25 young people attending the project each week, aged between 15 and 17.

“While they are lively, we have not had issues managing the behaviour of the group.

“They respect the building and the staff.”

In February 2013, Herts police and Stevenage Borough Council joined forces to tackle a similar situation at the Marymead shops, with parents informed of their children’s behaviour, with posters warnings about ASBOs being issued were also used.

A police spokeswoman said: “We do have a number of powers available to us and by working with partners we can tackle these issues, but I would stress that residents play a vital role in helping us to tackle issues locally so if you do have any concerns about anti-social behaviour then please contact us on 101.”

Elsewhere in town at The Oval, a six-month crackdown on anti-social behaviour at the Vardon Road shops has been hailed as a success.

Police, the Stevenage Community Safety Partnership and Stevenage Borough Council have used new legislation to issue 14 people with community protection notices which restrict anti-social behaviour.

Posters warning the youths about the possible consequences of their behaviour - which included ASBOs being issued - were put up in the area.

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