Trouble-making gang is targeted by police

POLICE are taking steps to stop yobs attacking pupils outside Hampstead School. In recent months students at the Westbere Road school have been targeted by a gang which hangs around the gates looking for trouble

Ben McPartland

POLICE are taking steps to stop yobs attacking pupils outside Hampstead School.

In recent months students at the Westbere Road school have been targeted by a gang which hangs around the gates looking for trouble.

Now, officers from the Fortune Green Safer Neighbourhoods Team (SNT) are gathering evidence to take out an Asbo against the gang's ringleader.


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Patrols have also been increased when pupils come out of school in the afternoon.

"These youths are mostly from the nearby estate and tend to turn up and pick on our students," said the chairman of Hampstead's board of governors, Geoff Berridge "They are in large numbers and come looking for trouble. The kids don't want to be involved."

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Sgt Paul Truckle from the SNT said his officers had been working into the night to tackle the issue of antisocial behaviour.

In his latest report, the officer said: "There has been a rise in antisocial behaviour outside Hampstead School.

"This is due to a group of youths constantly hanging around the school intimidating pupils and causing disorder. Diligent patrols in that area from 3pm to 3.30pm have helped. We are currently gathering evidence for an Asbo against one of the youths."

Sgt Truckle believes the problems have been occurring since the school lost its on-site safer schools officer.

Parents were divided over whether they should appoint a new officer but after meetings and a visit from an MP, governors finally brought in PC Anna Lovell in February. She replaces PC Craig Shenkin, who left his post last summer.

Mr Berridge said: "The trouble was one of the main arguments we used, to get a new officer.

"These things are always part of a long-term pattern but having someone in the school does help as well as the close co-operation of the Safer Neighbourhoods Team.

"You cannot lock these youths up so we have to be careful about what happens outside the school gates. We do have a duty of care to our students.

"It's more a case of working with the police to actually look for evidence and push this through, whether it's in the form of an Asbo or something else."

Riot police had to be called to the secondary in November 2006 when trouble flared outside the gates after a gang from a rival school arrived.

But police became embroiled in the trouble themselves and were accused by youngsters of being racist and heavy handed.

The school's headteacher, Jacques Szemalikowski, lodged a complaint, and the matter is still being investigated by the Metropolitan Police's directorate of professional standards.

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk

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