Calls for security cameras following spate of arson and anti-social behaviour issues in 'hidden corner' of Fenland park
Residents are calling for CCTV to be installed in an anti-social hot spot close to a town park after a series of incidents including three fires in six days.
They say they are living in fear after an incident on Wednesday night when a Ford Ka was set on fire close to homes with the flames spreading to a garden fence.
People living in both Bowthorpe Road and Verdun Road, Wisbech, are fed-up with the ongoing problems which they claim are caused by a group of older teenagers, who are taking advantage of a corner of the town park, which backs on to both roads and is hidden from the view of security cameras.
One said: “They are all older teenagers, and they gather in this corner, because they can’t be seen by the cameras. They are doing drugs, and causing vandalism. They have damaged a garden fence a number of times, using the wood to start fires.
“They have set fire to a rubbish bin in that part of the park and then last night there was a car fire. I don’t know if it was a stolen car, but it was very scary. The fire spread to the fence, which I believe had only been fixed that day from the last time it was damaged.
“What is happening is worrying people along here. So we are keeping a log of the things that are happening to use to try to get a CCTV camera here.
“It is all happening late at night, about 11pm or midnight and they are only teenagers, so they should not be out that late in the first place.
“We really think a security camera would help. Every time something happens the police and fire brigade come out, and it is wasting their time and money to keep doing that.”
A fire service spokesman said crews had been called to four incidents in the vicinity including the most recent car fire.
He said: "All the fires with the exception of the car fire were refuse fires in the open."
The spokesman said: "At 11.53pm on Wednesday (29) a crew from Wisbech was called to a fire on Bowthorpe Road in Wisbech.
Firefighters arrived to find a car on fire. Wearing breathing apparatus they extinguished the fire using a hose reel and returned to their station by 12.45am."
The other incidents happened at 12.01am on July 22 in Wisbech Park; July 24 at 11.48pm in Park Avenue; and July 27 at 11.14pm Bowthorpe Road.
The cause of the car fire was deliberate. Anyone with information about the incident should contact police by visiting www.cambs.police.uk to submit an online report or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Station Commander Pete Jones, Cambridgeshire Fire Service’s arson liaison officer, said: “Arson is a serious crime and can have severe consequences for those that start a fire, no matter how big or how small it is. Not only this, but any fire presents significant risks for anyone around the area if it gets out of hand, as well as for the fire crews sent to tackle them.
“We work closely with the police and other partner agencies to try to prevent these types of incidents. However it is clear there is more work to do, and we need help from residents across the county. Reporting a fire, whether deliberate or not, is important so our crews can respond quickly and stop it spreading.
“Parents can also help by speaking with their children and ensuring they know the risks and dangers of fire. Making sure that lighters and matches are kept well out of reach of children, as well as making sure they stay clear of disused or derelict buildings, can also make a big difference.
“There are other precautions people can take to help reduce the risk of a deliberate fire. Keeping rubbish bins out of sight and away from buildings if possible for example, along with installing security lights or cameras, can all be a deterrent. Also ensuring any bulky household rubbish, such as sofas or washing machines, is taken to the local recycling centre and not left in the open”
“With the warm weather upon us it’s really important that we work together with our communities to prevent deliberate fires happening in our county and reporting them if we see any suspicious activity in the area.”
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: "We’ve received three calls concerning incidents involving youths in Verdun Road, Wisbech, in the last month, as well as additional reports of arson in the nearby park.
"At about 11.15pm on Monday (July 27) it was reported a fence had been damaged and a fire started in a bin. Officers and fire crews attended, but those involved had left the scene.
"A second incident involved a group of youths riding a moped anti-socially at about 5pm on Wednesday (29). Officers attended the area, but did not locate the individuals.
"The third report concerned anti-social behaviour generally, but no crime was in progress at the time of the call.
"Local officers are aware of ongoing issues associated with the park. They are working closely with partners and regularly patrol the area."
Anyone with information regarding these incidents should speak to an operator via the police online web-chat quoting CC-27072020-0515 (arson) or CC-29072020-0373 (mopeds). If you do not have access a computer, please dial 101. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.