Our seaside town is being ravaged by drug dealers and ASBO kids… gangs of children bay for blood like a pack of animals | The Sun

TERRIFIED locals in a popular seaside town are being plagued by violent criminal gangs – some with members as young as 10 years old.

Known for its traditional seaside fun, Weston-super-Mare in Somerset is a favourite tourist destination, visited by almost 1 million holidaymakers every year.

But local shop workers and residents have told how their lives are blighted by increasing groups of young louts committing violent and criminal acts, leaving them frightened to leave their homes.

Police have confirmed a rise in the number of groups of teenagers wreaking havoc in the town, where one man claims he was brutally attacked on the beach six weeks ago.

Asking not to be identified, the man claims he was defending a young woman who was being targeted by around 15 children and young adults, some in local school uniform.

The middle-aged local claims: “It was about 4.30pm and the woman was wasted, very drunk, and, they were having a go at her and threatening, so I stepped in.

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“I managed to get her away from them to some other members of the public, but I had to go back on to the beach to get my dog, which is when they all circled me, like a pack of animals baying for blood.

“Then they beat me up pretty badly, and I could see one girl stood back, filming it on her phone.

“I ended up on the sand, being kicked and stamped on in the face, they stood on my throat and head until I was unconscious. 

“I was in hospital for two days and still have the scars including a black eye, as well as the emotional trauma.”

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The man said the main part of the small town, including the High Street, is a hotbed of criminal behaviour with kids riding bikes and E-scooters, and typically loitering around on the colourful bandstand.

He said: “You regularly see someone from a shop running down the street shouting ‘stop thief’, but there’s not a lot you can do, and people don’t want to intervene in case they get hurt.

“They also shoot fireworks through shop doors and through letterboxes – we’re fed-up of it.”

Shop terror

Weston is famed for its Grand Pier, donkey rides on the beach, fish and chip shops lining the promenade and vast beach out to the Severn Estuary.

But away from the top tourist attractions local shops are struggling amid the sky-rocketing crime wave. 

On the High Street, Elaine Peake is the manager of sweet shop Captain Kandy.

She said: “We have a lot of things taken from the displays outside, like the dummy lollies and boxes of Oreo bars. It’s hard to keep an eye out in the shop as well as keeping an eye outside, but we use them as an advert, and if we bring them in people will think we’re closed.

“We have gangs of kids out by the entrance when I’m behind the till and the next minute they’ve taken stuff and they’re gone. 

“A colleague confronted someone a couple of weeks ago, they had sweets round their neck, in their pockets, and in the end, they gave it back, but we try not to because we have to consider our own safety.

“We have a radio to our council street wardens we can use to get help and CCTV, but it still happens a lot. Some of them are as young as ten, maybe they think it’s big to do this in front of their peers.”

Elaine, 49, has lived in Weston all her life.

She said: “Everybody worries about the groups and gangs in the town, in the day, at night, when you go home in the evening, because you don’t know whether they’re going to come towards you and what they might have on them, and they’re everywhere.

“I always make sure and would advise people to be with someone, because you just don’t know what could happen if you’re on your own when there’s too much anti-social behaviour.

“I’ve lived here over 40 years, and it wasn’t like this 20 years ago, but over the past year or so it’s worse than ever. 

“We see them going down the high street on their bikes, being abusive to people and scaring people – they just don’t seem to care.”

'It's intimidating'

Former RAF and retired aerospace engineer Frank Bamford, 70, has lived in Weston for 53 years.

“We see a lot of anti-social behaviour from these gangs of young people – playing loud music, shouting and screaming at people, behaviour that’s not appropriate for public places.

"They are mixed in age, not a gang of all young kids. They range from 10 to 18, and you see them split up and go in different directions.

“Most people in the high street will also see there is a drug problem in this area, as well as witnessing shoplifting and theft, which is clearly happening on a regular basis.

“I’ve seen people running after people who’ve stolen from their stores and see the street wardens on a regular basis as well.

“We know of people who've been assaulted and it’s becoming more difficult for people to come our in the evenings and enjoy what’s around the town.

“It could be intimidating for people, I’ve seen elderly people going to the bank being intimidating by ‘unusual’ looking people, who are shouting at them and being disruptive.

“We’d welcome a larger police presence in the town, but this is parental responsibility.

“Why are young people out in the town at nights away from their parents and being able to carry out these attacks on society?

“We all have a responsibility to step in if we see something happening, not by getting involved but calling the police and making it unacceptable. But it can’t be just the police and it can’t be just social services. If we stepped in more often, we’d have more control as a society.”

Troubled past

Tina Cooke, 45, has lived on the notorious Bournville estate, just outside the town centre, for most of her life.

The 1920s council estate is well known for high crimes rates and for housing some of Weston’s most prolific criminals in the past few decades. 

She said: “Bournville’s got a reputation, but it’s not as bad now as it was when I was a kid. It was full of drug dealers and drug users, we had a dump next to our house, so it wasn’t nice.

“But it’s very different on this estate now. The police are always around keeping an eye on people but with the exception of a few things it’s generally ok now compared to what it was 40 years ago.

“I see more groups of teenagers hanging around in town than around here. They can range from young teens to early 20s.

“They go round on their bikes, which you also see on the estate sometimes, and it can be intimidating, especially if you’re on your own, so I tend not to go out on my own at night.

She told how two male friends were assaulted by local gangs several years ago, and while one didn’t know the perpetrators, one was known to them, and ended up with a metal plate replacing part of his skull. 

She knows of several stabbings having taken place on the Bournville estate, which houses a row of shops and a health-hub.

The mum-of-three grown up kids added: “I wouldn’t go out alone here, but it’s more dangerous in town, I wouldn’t go out alone there at all, especially at night. It’s just become too dangerous.”

Police crackdown

Avon and Somerset Police have shared a statement with The Sun released last weekend when they attended ‘a number of incidents’ involving groups of teenagers.

A 12-year-old, 13-year-old and an 18-year-old have been arrested and bailed, along with a 14-year-old who was charged with breaking a behaviour order.

The statement read: “Over the past few weeks, we have seen a significant rise in the number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) and associated offences involving young people in Weston-super-Mare town centre.”

The offences included assaults on members of the public, thefts, shoplifting and criminal damage.

The post continued: “We will also be carrying out proactive arrest attempts as part of the investigation.

“The children and young people involved are aged from 12 years old upward. We encourage all parents and guardians to speak with their children if they were out (last night).

“Officers from our Neighbourhood Policing Team are working with partners including North Somerset Council, Weston-super-Mare Town Council and business representatives to tackle this behaviour.

“Enquiries including CCTV trawls, house-to-house enquiries and increased police patrols will be taking place over the coming days and weeks.

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“We will not tolerate any anti-social or criminal behaviour and ask the public to support us in our efforts to make Weston and the surrounding villages a safe place to live, work and visit.”

North Somerset Council declined to comment.

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