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Police call community 'summit' after Hayes town assaults
'WE STILL have control of the streets in Hayes town'.
The message has gone out from Hillingdon Police, following two serious assaults in the area in recent weeks which has heightened the fear of crime in the community.
Police called an emergency meeting last Wednesday, inviting councillors and community workers supporting young people and families in Hayes' diverse community to address concerns about violent incidents in the centre over the past couple of months.
Two men aged 20 and 21 have been charged with GBH with intent in relation to an assault in Austin Road, Hayes, on March 22, in which the victim suffered chest injuries.
On April 2, just around the corner at the top of Station Road, a 38 year-old Asian man was left with serious leg injuries after being beaten by a gang.
So far, two youths have been charged in relation to this assault.
These crimes have got the town talking and in recent weeks there has been a two-fold increase in reports of crime from the public.
In response, police have sent officers working in other parts of Hillingdon to the area, and launched Operation Cessna, consisting of high-visibility patrols, sniffer dogs at Hayes and Harlington station, weapon sweeps and plain clothes officers on the streets, to crack down on the town's drug trade.
Chief Inspector Nigel Quantrell said: "Something is happening in Hayes at the moment that we can't quite put our finger on.
"The stem of this violence is drugs, and this is a feeder to burglary and other forms of crime. It is at the heart of everything we do."
Mr Quantrell, who led the debate at Harlington Community School in Pinkwell Lane, Hayes, on Wednesday last week, said the number of officers would return to normal within the next couple of weeks, with the borough's teams already depleted.
He also moved to 'dispel perceptions' about crime levels in the town's 'hotspot' area, along Station Road and Coldharbour Lane, which straddles both Botwell and Townfield wards.
Police figures show that violent crime - assault and street robbery - in the Botwell, Townfield and Pinkwell wards between January and March is down by just over 15 per cent, compared to the same period last year. Crimes in the hotspot area are also down, from 70 offences in 2011, to 51 this year.
David Brough, chairman of the Hayes Town Partnership, said that the south of the borough should be a priority for the police.
He said at the meeting: "Give us more. You hardly see any officers in the town nowadays and this is threatening to undermine all the good work that you have done.
"Having said that, Hayes is still a very safe place, and there is no epidemic of violence."
A lack of things for young people to do, and the absense of rehabilitation services for past offenders was said to be a contributing factor, and youth leaders from the YMCA, in Station Road, as well as agencies serving Hayes' east African communities, agreed that part of the solution was to work collaboratively to engage with young people most at risk of offending.
The Hayes Youth Partnership was set up to achieve this, but poor attendance at monthly meetings has lead to it becoming ineffectual.
l So far, Operation Cessna, a dedicated operation tackling anti-social behaviour in Hayes town, has lead to 24 arrests. Eighteen search warrants have been executed, and officers have stopped and searched 124 people. A similar number have been stopped and let go.
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