Moves to improve safety at murder spot
Dave Quarterman, left, and Dave Howlett next to rubbish they cleared on the footpath behind the Oasis Leisure Centre
INCREASED patrols and police presence will continue to keep the Western Flyer underpass safe until effective measures can make the area secure.
In recent years, dispersal orders in residential areas have led to an increase in anti-social behaviour around the Oasis Skate Park. There have also been a number of violent incidents in the area, culminating in the murder of Tom Rogers last month.
The dispersal orders have now been lifted from the west sector, and police are working with Swindon Council to review safety measures, including CCTV.
The cycle path where 60-year-old Tom was murdered was reopened on Tuesday, but police have asked members of the public to remain vigilant.
The issue of safety was raised with police and local MPs last year. In a letter to a local resident following complaints about the area, Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, wrote: “With regard to ASB in the Oasis Skate Park area, that is subject to a dedicated patrol tasker by west sector police, effective street patrols to combat ASB in residential areas having displaced youths to the Oasis Skate Park where they are less likely to cause nuisance to residents. A lesser of two evils I grant you but one that is the least disruptive overall.”
West Swindon Insp Martyn Sweet said: “Dispersal orders were in place but there was no intention to push youths to the facilities at the skate park. There are no longer any orders in place.
“There is always a concern that dispersal orders will generally just displace people, but if that is the case we police the area proactively.”
Andrew Carr, Swindon superintendent, said: “We are working with the local authority and the Community Safety Partnership to review measures which can be taken in the short and longer term.
“Improving visibility and the CCTV cover will form part of these considerations. In the meantime our enhanced patrols will continue in the area and we are still encouraging people to take heed of the personal safety advice we have been issuing.”
Work has already begun to clear the underpass, with the Community Payback Team removing discarded needles and broken glass yesterday. Ten offenders spent the day cutting back overgrown grass.
Although the land is owned by the Oasis, the council immediately took steps to clear it back, initially in order to allow police to search the area. Dave Quarterman, supervisor of the Community Payback Team, said: “When places are overgrown they can attract further problems. It’s important to keep them clear.”