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Stratford businesses tell police of abuse, drugs and theft concerns

DRUG-TAKING, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour are blighting parts of Stratford town centre, according to business owners who met with police last week.

Officers were also given accounts of threatening behaviour and alleged drug dealing, with some businesses saying it was happening just metres from their front doors.

Details of the issues were raised last month during a walkabout engagement event around the town centre involving some of Stratford’s senior officers along with members of the public. On this occasion the focus was on businesses and the types of criminal activity they faced.

Inspector Ben Hembry, Sergeant James Evans and Chief Inspector Karl Faulkner were told by one retailer who had witnessed drug dealing in Bridge Street describe how a Bentley pulled up and the driver handed over bags to what he described as ‘drug mules’.

Across the street at Marks and Spencer, the key thing was shoplifters who were stealing hundreds of pounds of goods, including meat and alcohol.

The store manager, who did not wish to be named, said: “There are two types of crime involved in shoplifting. There is transient crime, where someone comes in and steals, and there are locals and some of those regulars have a drug addiction.

“While we have a store detective, I feel my colleagues aren’t about to stop shoplifters who have used threatening behaviour and pushed them about, so the key thing for us is [police] support.”

Ch Insp Faulkner promised the store support from a beat officer and suggested a meeting where advice about the store’s design could be discussed to reduce the opportunity of theft.

In Windsor Court, Pat Kent was one of seven business owners in the courtyard concerned about safety following an influx of people urinating and using abusive language.

Pat said: “It’s disgusting and intimidating. I have asked men who are drunk and hanging around to move on and sometimes they do, but I wouldn’t ask the women who are there as they’d give me a mouthful of abuse.

“In the evening, when it’s dark, it just feels an unsafe location and I’ve had to lock the door to the premises while we’re still working because we’ve got to think of our safety. In the mornings I’ve cleaned up the mess left behind. If we had cameras and lighting they might not come here.”

Pat added that she had reported incidents to police 15 times, but only once did a police officer turn up. Chf Insp Faulkner proposed a mini-working group be set up with the businesses in Windsor Court to help resolve the situation.

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