IS ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR IN FLEET GETTING WORSE?

HAVE YOU BEEN AFFECTED BY IT?

by For Fleet's Sake
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NEW WARNING FROM HART POLICE

It isn’t a new topic by any means but antisocial behaviour is a blight that seems to be a permanent fixture of Fleet nowadays. From graffiti to broken benches and verbal abuse, just where do you draw the line between kids mucking about and criminal activity – and what can actually be done about it?

With occasional half-hearted mumblings of revitalisation in Fleet (something it is in dire need of), one has to wonder if it is even worth trying to improve the town when vandals just seem to gleefully accept each new installation as a challenge to cause more destruction, indeed some have even been spotted laughing and encouraging each other to smash up local park benches. A previous repair to one such bench, consisting of supposedly unbreakable material, was reduced to a molten lump in a matter of hours after only one day of use when it was set fire to. Partygoers often leave behind trails of broken glass, rubbish and even fire damage where they have settled for the evening, leaving local residents and councils to pick up the mess and repair the damage – it’s a seemingly endless cycle. Sadly these are all part of a growing culture of antisocial behaviour in Fleet, something which has seen a steady rise over the past few years according to local crime figures.

Below: A dumped broken bike and smashed up benches at The Views in November 2021. Credit: Simon Paul Fenwick.

 
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More recently we’ve seen a rather unpleasant turn in events with doors being kicked forcefully and flour bombed, while items were thrown at people. With an increasing amount of abusive behaviour, is this a problem that’s getting out of hand?

To add to the growing concerns, Hart South Police stated yesterday that even before the Easter holidays have begun, there have been reports of youths forcing entry through locked gates at Hart Leisure Centre, using the facilities for free and causing damage to property. Staff and members of the public who tried to intervene were brushed aside with verbal abuse, showing a worrying level of arrogance and defiance by the vandals.

Below: Post from Hart South Police:

“Ahead of the Easter holidays I would just like to make everyone aware that Police, along with the Hart Community Safety Team have been getting reports of youths causing Anti-Social Behaviour and using the Football Pitches at the Hart Leisure centre without payment.

They are doing this by means of forcing entry through the locked gates and causing damage to locks, climbing over the fences which is incredibly dangerous or walking through when others who have paid for a pitch are playing.

When challenged by members of the public or staff members they are verbally abusive and refuse to leave. Police are working together with Hart Community Safety Team and Hart Leisure Centre to tackle this issue and deal with those involved appropriately.

The Hart Leisure Centre is a wonderful facility for the whole community and should be respected by all that use it. So please ensure that your children are aware that there are costs involved for using this facility and if dropping children off please ensure they are following the correct procedures by booking in, and paying for its use.”

 
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The term “antisocial behaviour” has a lot to answer for in many cases. While chalking up a penis picture at the local skateboard park may not be very social (ah, the classics are still the best!), having things thrown at you and having your property damaged is far from a laughing matter, so don’t ever be put off reporting it because you think it isn’t worthwhile.

Below: Classic art in Fleet…if a little biologically incorrect. Credit: Simon Paul Fenwick.

 
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Below: Various graffiti in Fleet. Credit: Simon Paul Fenwick.

 
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Recently, Basingstoke Council posted about a new project called “Streets Alive”, encouraging local artists to liven up the streets of the town. Would something like this be useful to cover up the work of the less talented artists who have spray painted parts of Fleet? While not preventing damage, it could at least help showcase local talent while offering something a little more appealing to the eye.

Below: The “Streets Alive” project in Basingstoke.

When it comes down to it, without extra surveillance of some kind – whether via via CCTV or in person, little will change, meaning all we can do is hope the antisocial trend doesn’t continue to increase even further.

While social media is great for warning others of what’s going on quickly, especially in your local vicinity, please do take the time to report any incidents to the police by calling 101, or of course 999 if it’s an emergency. Keep track of your doorbell and cctv footage and if you are at all concerned then don’t stay silent. “It’s only kids mucking about” doesn’t cover criminal damage and threatening behaviour – you don’t have to put up with it.

Have you been affected by antisocial behaviour in Fleet?

 
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