Basildon neighbourhoods “like war zones”

Neighbourhoods in Basildon are among the worst in England for crime and like “war zones”, councillors have claimed.

Basildon Borough Council’s community safety strategy says 32 per cent of the borough’s neighbourhoods are in England’s worst decile for crime and this has been getting worse since 2015.

Councillors at a meeting on November 17 said estates in the town had become like “war zones” and that residents were afraid to leave their homes at night for fear of crime.

The strategy, which was approved at the meeting, sets out a series priorities for tackling serious violence and other forms of abuse

Council leader Andrew Baggott (Con, Burstead) said: “It should leave no one in any doubt as to this administration’s stance on tackling crime at all levels and our commitment to keep our communities safe and sound.”

But it was criticised by some, who questioned the effectiveness of a team of community safety wardens, set up by the council earlier this year as part of a local crackdown on antisocial behaviour.

Councillor Maryam Yaqub (Labour, St Martin’s) said: “Residents don’t want to see diagrams and graphs, they want to see police on the streets.”

Later she said: “We have estates in this borough that look like war zones. Craylands has become a magnet to crime and antisocial behaviour.”

Councillor Kerry Smith (Ind, Nethermayne) said: “We’ve had these new wardens in, which were a replacement for the teams we brought in, the park wardens, and I have to say I’m not impressed. I am really not impressed.”

According to the strategy, the wards with the highest crime deprivation deciles are Lee Chapel North, St Martin’s, Vange, Pitsea North-West and Pitsea South-East.

To achieve its priority of protecting vulnerable people from abuse, harm and exploitation, the strategy suggests developing early intervention and prevention programmes to promote healthy relationships and deter hate crime.

It also advocates for deploying wardens to targeted locations to improve the perception of community safety and for visible patrols in crime hotspots to deter serious violence.

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Charlie Ridler

Local Democracy Reporter