Waverley’s police team has defended itself after a councillor called on the force to “get a grip” after the “horrific violent assault” on a teenage girl in Farnham town centre.
Cllr George Hesse (Farnham Residents, Castle ward) described the September 30 attack in Victoria Garden as “a call to action to Surrey Police to provide much better day-to-day policing on the ground and much better fast response”.
A 15-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after another teenage girl was beaten in front of a large crowd of youths in the Farnham town centre community garden.
Cllr Hesse has since called for a team of “fit constables working shifts to cover the day and evenings deployed on e-powered mountain bikes” to respond to such events quickly.
He has also called for action to deal with a “plague of shoplifting” he says is afflicting retailers in Farnham.
Cllr Hesse continued: “I believe we need a game-changer in policing to properly deal with these problems.
“Currently, I believe, there is a feeling abroad that the police are either absent or ineffectual and that people can do what they like with impunity (drop litter, speed though town, car racing, drive cars and motor bikes with loud machine-gun like exhausts and, now, assault young people).
“The community needs to demand better and for Surrey Police to get a grip.”
Farnham Public Art Trust has also expressed concern at the wave of vandalism spreading across the town.
A spokesman said: “The Public Art Trust have been and continue to be very concerned about vandalism which affects items of or areas which include the display of public art.
"Pre-Covid this involved the Farnham Made Fair wall sculpture but since then includes the torched and now removed Victoria Gardens information wall panels (also a recent location for an assault involving numerous young people) and the extensive damage to a new installation A Hand’s Turn the series of cones recently unveiled in April this year at the Maltings."
A spokesman for Surrey Police said the Waverley policing team is aware of “many issues” across the borough, and is “taking steps” to address wider issues relating to anti-social behaviour and criminal activity in Farnham specifically.
However, the force indicated not every crime is currently reported, making it harder for officers to spot crime patterns and “understand, respond and problem-solve these issues”.
The spokesman said: “In relation to shoplifting, we understand and appreciate the impact this has on local businesses and we will continue to work with retailers and encourage them to report any crime.
“This helps us to build a clear and accurate picture of what is taking place in the town.
“If crimes are not reported to us, we do not know they are taking place and cannot take any action to resolve the issue.
“For us to have the best possibility of catching those responsible and putting them before the courts, we need these matters to be reported.
“We are currently working on a number of enquiries to identify and prosecute a number of shoplifters who have targeted businesses in the town.”
Current court action noted by the police includes:
- One man due in court for numerous counts of theft and breaches of his criminal behaviour order in Farnham town;
- One woman currently on remand who is known for shoplifting in Farnham and Aldershot. She was also in breach of a court order and awaits her trial at court in the coming weeks;
- Man arrested and questioned for a theft matter from Pets at Home, Farnham, in the past fortnight. The investigation remains ongoing. The man has also recently been to court for a separate court order breach.
The spokesman for the Waverley borough police team said: “As a neighbourhood team we are passionate and committed to tackling crime within the borough of Waverley.
“Our numbers and resources are restricted at times but we would always encourage contact from concerned residents should they wish to consult the local Waverley Safer Neighbourhood Team.
“However, we must emphasise we do not work 24/7 and where there is a degree of urgency to the enquiry or it is a crime in progress, we would always advise dialling 999 or, for non-urgent matters, contacting us online via the online portal https://www.surrey.police.uk/”
A Surrey Police spokesman added the Victoria Garden assault remains under police investigation, with no charges yet brought against the teenage girl arrested, who has been released from custody.