Published: 12:05, 17 October 2020
| Updated: 12:51, 17 October 2020
Police patrols will be stepped up at a crime-hit park where a teenager was recently stabbed.
The extra presence is hoped to crack down on the increasing levels of violence to grip Faversham recreation ground.
In the latest incident, a 16-year-old boy was knifed in the back on Sunday as he made his way through the 20-acre park.
Whether it be day or night, the Rec has become an unwelcoming place for families or individuals who now opt to steer clear of the "lawless" open space.
More than 2,500 concerned residents have therefore signed a petition calling for security to be given a much-needed upgrade.
A senior police officer says crime at the Rec is committed by a “very small minority” but the force does not underestimate the “disproportionate impact” on the community.
Patrols have been increased and sweeps of the area for weapons are to be conducted.
Chief Inspector Alan Rogers, Kent Police’s District Commander for Swale, says the proactive measures are hoped to cut down the ever-increasing crime rates.
He said: “We are aware of concerns about crime at Faversham recreation ground and are working closely with our partners, including Swale Borough Council, to prevent further incidents.
“My officers are taking a proactive approach to prevent offending, such as increasing their patrols to the area, carrying out knife sweeps and using dispersal orders to move on groups of people who are causing, or likely to cause, a disturbance.
“When offences have taken place, we have always acted quickly to identify and detain individuals involved.
“A teenage boy has already been arrested following the assault on Sunday night and a different teenage boy was arrested last month, not long after we received a report of a robbery.
“Offences at the recreation ground are committed by a very small minority of people but we do not underestimate the disproportionate impact they have on the wider community.
“We have no tolerance for such behaviour and will continue working with our partners to ensure the most robust, and proportionate, action is taken.”
Faversham MP Helen Whately says she is shocked by the latest stabbing and assures she will pressure the authorities for further measures.
"As a mother, I can’t imagine anything worse than something like this happening to one of my children," she said.
“Sadly we know this isn’t a one-off incident as reports of crime and anti-social behaviour in the Rec increased during the summer.
“Despite the best efforts of the police, it’s clear more needs to be done.
"Having helped secure funding to regenerate the Rec, we now need to make it safe for people to enjoy.
“I’ve called on Kent Police and Swale Borough Council to look at every possible option to improve safety, including better lighting and more patrols."
Swale Borough Council has previously employed a ranger for the Rec, and the authority says it is working to improve safety at the site.
A spokesman for the council said: “We have employed a park ranger for the Rec, and we are working with a specialist charity on plans to positively engage with users.”
Daisy Courtney, who started the petition calling for action, said: "In the last few years there has been constant aggro at the Rec. This includes two stabbings, children being robbed and threats with violence.
"My children can no longer play in their local park or even walk home from their school as the route includes the recreation ground.
"We as a community are worried and scared for the wellbeing and future of our children.
"We should be able to feel safe to let our children play at the park, walk our dogs, ride our bikes, enjoy the company of other families with out feeling anxious and scared, resulting in a community avoiding the Rec."
To sign the petition, click here.