Worthing residents ‘living in fear’ after gang’s 18 month reign of terror

The view Jackie Smith said she faces most nights of the week SUS-180711-125127001
The view Jackie Smith said she faces most nights of the week SUS-180711-125127001

A Worthing resident has said her community is ‘living in fear’ at the hands of a gang of teenagers.

Jackie Smith, 64, said the gang’s reign of terror around The Avenue and Collingwood Road in Goring had lasted more than 18 months and residents had become disillusioned with the response from police.

“I have lived here for 19 years very happily and could walk around the estate with no problems,” she said.

“I’ve watched this crew grow. It is like they are playing and getting stronger and stronger. Because they congregate they are organised and gaining confidence.

“At the minute they run away when I approach them but I can tell that when they start staying still, we have a big problem.”

She said the group of about ten balaclava-clad teenagers had been slashing car tyres, smashing wing mirrors, running along bungalow rooftops and banging on windows, among other acts of anti-social behaviour.

Mrs Smith, who is a former detective in a major crimes unit for Surrey Police, said she and her husband had needed 12 new tyres between them over the last 18 months.

They have recently installed a £600 motion-sensing spotlight – taking their bill at the hands of the gang to over £5,000.

“I think they are going to get stronger and start getting physical,” she said, adding she had taken to patrolling the streets at night.

“We will get violence and the odd beating up. These things start in a little way and build up.”

She said more needs to be done to protect the vulnerable residents in the street, who are ‘living in fear’.

Her next door neighbour, who lives in a bungalow and is suffering from cancer, has been forced to sleep during the day and stay up at night, standing guard in her living room with a hammer.

The group sit on her roof, bang on her windows and vandalise her car, according to Mrs Smith.

Castle ward councillor Karen Harman said the issue had been raised with police and is due to be discussed at a community meeting at St Richard’s Church in Collingwood Road at 7pm tonight.

The neighbourhood policing team has been invited to update the community on measures to combat the anti-social behaviour.

Mrs Smith said she would like the police to be more pro-active in their response. She said: “I would like all the crimes to be linked when we phone them in.

“I would like a presence – I know they can’t patrol all the time but I think more of a presence than we have now will help.

“I also want a random street light to be left on at night.”

Sussex Police have been approached for comment.

More news:

Weekly refuse collections to be scrapped in Adur and Worthing from next September

Empty Shoreham shop to be converted into dental practice

Sussex university professor under fire over claims ‘Israelis blew up Twin Towers’