Message for Harrogate residents from police after string of serious assaults and robberies
A string of serious assaults, robberies and unsettling incidents connected to County Lines drug dealing has prompted Harrogate police to double patrols of the town in some instances.
Area police commander, Det Supt Steve Thomas, told the Harrogate Advertiser that officers are doing everything they can to build community confidence, after a spate of incidents over the Christmas and New Year period left some residents questioning the safety of the area.
Det Supt Thomas said: “I think it’s understandable that people are worried, they want to feel safe in their local town where they live, and anything that threatens that, it is something that is going to cause concern and worry.
“The difficulty and the difference we have now as opposed to years gone by, is that with social media and the networks that people have, the reality of what happens takes on a new life and things get exaggerated, or people hypothesis as to who’s done what and why - how serious it was, and what’s likely to be the motivation. Things spread around very quickly.
“But the message is that Harrogate is still a very safe place. These incidents do occasionally happen, but they are still very, very rare.”
The reassurance comes after a stabbing outside Victoria Shopping Centre in the early hours of January 3, which led to patrols being stepped up.
A man in his thirties has been left with ‘life-changing injuries’ as a result of the attack, and three teenage boys, aged 16, 15 and 13, have been charged with robbery and wounding with intent. The 15-year-old has also been charged with possessing a 13-inch knife and a quantity of cannabis.
Det Supt Thomas said County Lines crime has become a big issue for Harrogate, with dealers from as far as Peterborough coming to the town to target vulnerable people, including children.
He said: “We are working really hard on this, we’ve doubled our expedite team in Harrogate temporarily just while we know we have this ongoing issue, so we can keep disrupting the criminality. And a lot of what we do is reaching out and supporting vulnerable people so that they don’t get cuckooed by some of these gangs.”
Harrogate police officers have also been punched, threatened and left with broken bones in a string of New Year attacks, prompting a fresh plea for members of the public to respect their protectors.
Det Supt Thomas said the number of attacks on officers in Harrogate and across North Yorkshire as a whole reached unprecedented levels compared to previous years, with 36 people arrested on New Year’s Eve, with another 52 arrested the following day.