Drug-dealing, vandalism and intimidation: Commissioner speaks out on Jennyfields crime concerns
County lines drug-dealing, spates of vandalism, and residents living in fear of retribution from crooks after contacting police have been raised as key concerns of Jennyfields locals fed up with crime in their neighbourhood.
About 200 residents crammed into the Styan Community Centre on Tuesday night to air their concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour in the area, with a panel including North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie and the county's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan on hand to field their questions.
The meeting was the culmination of months of unrest in the area, which has included costly incidents of arson, as well as outbreaks of vandalism and intimidation described by police as "mindless".
Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Mulligan said she was pleased with recent work taken to tackle crime in the area, and pledged that increased funding from the raised police precept would go towards beefing up local neighbourhood policing teams.
The commissioner said arrests have been made and curfews set in an attempt to stem illegal activities of what she called a "small group of individuals", while work to further prosecute those arrested was underway.
She added that there had been "no further incidents" over the last three weeks in the area, but emphasised she understood the public's demand for a continued heavy police presence in the area.
"There needs to be continuous action there - it's clear that the public want to see a continuous visible police presence there," she said.
She said two recruitment programs currently underway would aid that ambition - the first of which being a North Yorkshire-driven initiative which would see 51 additional officers in the county by April.
While Mrs Mulligan said where new officers would be deployed was entirely down to North Yorkshire's chief constable, she had "made it clear" during the raising of the police precept this year that the funding be used to increase numbers in local neighbourhood teams.
It was a move she said the chief constable had supported.
She also urged members of the public to report incidents in the area - including highly visible drug-dealing done in public car parks - even if they feared a backlash from those they reported.
Residents fearing retribution - a concern she said was raised at the meeting - can contact Crimestoppers anonymously, she added.
"It's clear (from the meeting) that their was under-reporting in the area," she said.
"If people continue to have concerns, they need to call police."
Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter