Conservative Group Leader & Castle Ward Councillor, Darius Laws, gives reassurance about crime in the Town Centre
It is perfectly understandable that people feel anxious over how safe Colchester is following the recent murder and stabbings. In the days following the incidents it was noticeably quiet. I carried on as normal and even took my son to the High Street via the Dutch Quarter. Knowing that the perpetrator was ‘still out there’ was unsettling for some, I know this to be the case because as one of the town Centre ward councillors I was contacted directly and told so. No one wants to see forensic teams in white suits and police standing by taped off streets.
People do however want to see Police and that message is getting through to government and more Police Officers are coming. Our CCTV network is extensive but I am not complacent enough to realise that there are probably some ‘dark spots’ which need extra coverage. The nature of an old town is that we have nooks and crannies, alleyways and undercrofts where unfortunately people will go to get up to no good, and to be specific - deal in drugs.
This is not an exclusive Colchester problem. Sadly it is nationwide and in more recent times we’ve seen an emergence of ‘county lines’. Highly organised drug dealing gangs have moved their ‘business’ operations from outside of large cities and by using a system of ‘anonymous’ mobile phones and by crafting ‘samples’ and ‘special offers’ vulnerable people and drug addicts are being serviced with their ‘fix’.
The people involved in this business are prepared to take extraordinary risks and sadly many carry knives for ‘protection’ and ‘intimidation’ purposes. This is evidenced by what has just happened. Our Member of Parliament Will Quince has pressed the government to do even more to address educating young people about the dangers of carrying knives. Like me he is also wants to see a robust approach to those caught carrying knives, it is simply unacceptable and we need a zero tolerance approach to it.
The destructive nature of highly potent drugs can not only ruin the lives of the users but their families, and also the wider public can be affected. We have seen a rise in Anti Social Behaviour and aggressive begging in the town Centre and here is where I conclude with a plea.
If you want to help people on the streets, some of which are not homeless by the way, please donate your time and / or money to the superb support charities who seek to help people turn over a new leaf. Giving cash direct to people is keeping them on the streets, it is fuelling their habits and addictions and it continues to make areas of our town centre intimidating and unpleasant. Charities which you might wish to learn more about include: Open Road, Beacon House, Colchester Rough Sleepers Group, The Colchester Night Shelter and Emmaus Colchester.