'Confidence in the community is low' - Residents call for immediate crackdown on Jennyfields crime

An arson attack caused severe damage to the early years area of Saltergate Primary School. Picture: Gerard Binks.
An arson attack caused severe damage to the early years area of Saltergate Primary School. Picture: Gerard Binks.

Residents in the Jennyfields area of Harrogate are calling for an immediate crackdown on crime, following a spate of vandalism and anti-social behaviour, an arson attack at Saltergate Primary School, and a stabbing outside The Hydro swimming pool.

A meeting is being organised for residents to share their deep concerns, with invitations sent out to Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones, the office of North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, North Yorkshire Police and Harrogate Borough Council.

Graham Whyte, who has lived in Jennyfields for more than 40 years, said there needs to be a more visible police presence to make criminals think twice.

He said: “The community has been damaged quite badly in recent months. These crimes are extremely unsettling for many residents, especially the young parents and the elderly. Fortunately, though, the community spirit is coming to the fore. Community spirit overrides criminal damage, albeit sickening to see said damage.”

Liza Leeson, who is in the process of organising and confirming a date for the community meeting, said confidence in the community is low.

She said: “Jennyfields is a lovely place to live, and it’s a shame that there is a minority who are bringing it down.”

MP Andrew Jones added: “I am deeply concerned by reports of anti-social behaviour and vandalism lately - particularly in the Jennyfields area. But despite this spate of incidents we should bear in mind that our area is, by any comparison, a safe place in which to live.

“This is not solely a police issue, but residents do want action quickly. The whole community - including the police - has a role in telling people about acceptable ways of behaving, in making sure our belongings and property are secure and letting the police know of anything suspicious.”

Responding to calls for increased patrols, Inspector Penny Taylor of Harrogate Police said: “I understand that there have been some recent, unconnected incidents that have caused concern amongst local residents.

“I’d like to reassure residents that we are working hard to deal with incidents of anti-social behaviour.

“We’ve increased police patrols across the town and have successfully been using powers such as dispersal orders to deal with any issues before they escalate.

“Alongside our local authority partners, we’re working with local young people who are at risk of getting involved in crime to educate them around the choices they are making and the consequences of their actions.”