Many parishioners will be aware of a rather unpleasant incident in Easebourne Park during the evening hours of Friday 19th and early hours of Sat 20th March, from reading social media and main-line press articles.
The event. From about 9PM onwards, a group of up to 30 youths gathered in the Park, centred upon The Roundhouse, and in clear contravention of C-19 laws. Members of this very noisy gathering upended a large charity clothes bank container, forced the door and threw the clothes all over the car-park and the Park. Four 4–5-year-old trees, which had been nurtured by volunteers for the past 3 years, were destroyed or severely damaged. One of the metal litter bins was repeatedly kicked, and badly damaged. Broken glass from spirit bottles and much other drinking-related litter left around children’s play equipment. Finally, some had chosen to urinate over several pieces of play equipment. When approached by a local parent, concerned about the anti-social noise and C-19 defiant gathering of so many, some of the group hurled aggressive abuse and displayed overt hostility. The police were called several times by residents and later attended when operational priorities allowed.
The immediate local response. Early on Saturday morning a group of volunteers, socially distanced, cleared up the broken glass (before the Park was used by children), cleared up the rubbish, washed down the play equipment and righted the charity clothes-gathering container and replaced the clothes. It was no small effort. The police were informed and a crime number obtained, the local Trading Standards team consulted about possible underage sale of alcohol to youths (supermarket carrier bags seen carrying heavy loads to the Park and empty supermarket vodka bottles smashed on-site) and Paul Thompson, Director of Welfare, Midhurst Rother College has been informed. The local press helpfully ran a story about the communities’ disgust at the behaviour of these destructive and disrespectful youths, on Monday 22 March.
The future? The CCTV system has now been enhanced to enable instant access, existing security patrols by Protec have been stepped up. The Neighbourhood Youth Police Officer, PC Dave Phillips is gathering evidence and is liaising with MRC. Physical Police patrols by Chichester Police will continue. Additionally, the Cowdray Estate has very kindly offered to involve its security team with regular patrols. A WhatsApp group of concerned local residents has also been formed, Easebourne Park Watch, to help with seeking solutions to prevent a repeat occurrence. Very generously, Aylings Garden Centre has offered to replace the damaged trees, for which we are all very grateful.
If anybody has any information pertaining to this incident and/or to report any future anti-social behaviour observed in Easebourne Park, please ring one of the following Numbers:
- Chichester Police, 101 or in an emergency, 999.
- PC Dave Phillips, Neighbourhood Youth Officer, 07776 490067.
- Protec Security, 07795 203248.
- Cowdray Security Team, 07730 096270.
- Clerk to Easebourne Parish Council, 07342 166188.
- Paul Thompson, Director of Welfare, MRC, via 01730 812451.