A NEW police team aimed at tackling the gang culture in Wealdstone has been launched.
The new seven-strong police team will work alongside two specially funded youth workers to try to encourage youths hanging around street corners into community projects and schemes.
Harrow police analysts say Wealdstone is the scene of more crimes than any other areas of the borough, and Sergeant Ed Baildon, who leads the new team, said his job is to support the existing police in the town.
He said: “We will be going out, speaking to the youths and finding out what they want to do.
“This is a transport hub where a lot of youths come to congregate. They are not necessarily doing anything wrong but there will always be one or two bad apples looking to cause trouble.
“Groups hanging around here need to be dealt with firmly, and I can understand how it is off-putting for people wanting to come here, especially in the evening.”
The inclusion of youth workers within the police team is a new idea in the Metropolitan Police, and is aimed at engaging with the youth gangs as well as tackling crime.
Chief Inspector Nick Davies, who was at the launch of the new team, said statistics show the dispersal zone in place over Wealdstone has been effective in moving groups out of the area, but has not helped much in reducing crime.
He said: “This is a fairly safe borough, but this area points to a need for more resources.
“When you look at crime, it is at a peak in Wealdstone, and you are more likely to be a victim, statistically, here in the Wealdstone corridor than anywhere else in the borough.”
The team, which has been created using existing police resources, is dubbed the Wealdstone Antisocial Behaviour Partnership (WASP), with backing from Harrow Council, which won the grant to fund the youth workers' inclusion.
Sgt Baildon said while Wealdstone, once famously labelled an “open market for drugs”, was clearly a police priority, it is not as bad as some areas of London.
He said: “In most town centres you will find a drug problem, especially transport hubs, that is hidden from the public.
“But I don't think it is as bad as an open drugs market, and there are far worse places in London to go.”
Gareth Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow West, backed the police team, which he said would give extra reassurance to Wealdstone residents.
He said: “It will support existing Safer Neighbourhood Teams and give visible reassurance to a community which has problems like drunkenness and disorderly behaviour.
“It is another group of officers who residents can go to if they have any problems.”