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Yobs invasion of conservation area of Verulam Road and New England Street, St Albans, 'was like London riots'
Terrified residents compared a rampage by around 80 teenage yobs, during which they urinated on cars and broke windows in St Albans, as being “like the London riots”.
The mob of teenagers, thought to be 16 or 17, descended on the green open space known as the Brickie on Friday night.
People living in the conservation area of Verulam Road and New England Street locked their doors as the disorder unfolded. A couple, who have lived in New England Street for six years, were appalled to see a teenager urinating on their garage, while a young couple engaged in sexual activity on their car.
The man, who didn’t wish to be named, said the mob swarmed in to New England Street from Verulam Road before making their way to the end of their road near the junction of Mount Pleasant where they blocked off the road. They then congregated on the Brickie.
He said: “It was like bedlam out there. They were a very rowdy mob and clearly very drunk.
“After the police arrived and ushered them away, we counted 79 teenagers as they passed our window.
“It was very threatening. We have lots of elderly and frail people living here as well as people with young children.
“It was very scary. Normally I would go out there and confront anyone causing trouble, but to go out to 50, 60, 80 teenagers – there is not an awful lot you can do. You would be putting your life in danger.”
The couple criticised police for arriving 40 minutes after their immediate call at 11pm.
At 11.30pm a neighbourhood police officer arrived before two more response cars arrived, as well as a riot van at 11.40pm.
Cars were also vandalised in Verulam Road, while youths rattled and banged doors, yelled abusive language and urinated on cars and garages in New England Street.
Another woman, who has lived in New England Street for two years, described barricading herself in her back guest bedroom after hearing loud bangs and shrieking.
She said: “I was scared they were going to smash a brick through my door. This is so unexpected. Living here you usually just hear the cathedral bells. It is perfectly idyllic.
“It was like the London riots out there.”
A brick was also thrown through the window of the Royal British Legion Club in Verulam Road.
Rubbish bins were also tipped over, leaving club chairman Don Dell to clear up the mess on Saturday because he was hosting a children’s party later that day.
County councillor Sandy Walkington condemned the length of time it took police to respond to calls.
He said: “This is unreal in our cathedral city.
“This was a terrifying experience for local residents in a quiet residential area. “There can be no excuse for the police taking so long to respond to calls. They must confirm they took names, that the culprits will have to account for their behaviour, and that this will be reported to the school if it transpires most of the louts are from the same establishment.”
Councillor Walkington added he has written to Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd to ask him what went wrong and to ensure there is not a repetition.
Chief Inspector Ken Townsend said: “Police attended New England Street in St Albans at 11.30pm on Friday following reports of anti-social behaviour from a large group of youths in the area who had been guests at a private party at a house nearby.
“We received the first call complaining about the group at 11pm and a second call at 11.11pm so we immediately dispatched resources to deal with the incident. We spoke with a number of the youths and dispersed the crowd.
“We have not received any reports of criminal damage, but if any resident or business in the area has concerns, I would urge them to contact our Safer Neighbourhoods Team.”
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