06:10PM, Wednesday 21 March 2018
Sara Pope and Jolene Rogers
Ideas and tips for preventing youth violence in Maidenhead were brought up at the first meeting of a community group dedicated to tackling it.
Make Our Town Safe Again (MOTSA) was started early this month after two mums, Jolene Rogers and Sara Pope, became concerned about recent attacks taking place between some young people.
They worried about the fights being filmed, and children not being deterred from the violence.
The meeting, held at Riverside Primary School in Donnington Gardens on Tuesday, allowed Sergeant Emma Pendry to talk about what the police can do to help.
“Thames Valley Police are taking it very seriously,” she said, adding that she was aware of three linked incidents involving young people in the area.
MOTSA member Bonnie Joyce said there could be a ‘hit list’ between some young people.
“Children have been getting messages on the back of these attacks saying ‘you are next’,” she added.
Sgt Pendry said the key to reducing the crime is to report incidents to the police.
“You guys are telling me that there is a big problem in Maidenhead that we are not aware of,” she said.
Outlining how the problem is already handled – through co-operation with schools and agencies and monitoring social media – Sgt Pendry suggested the lack of a town centre neighbourhood group was something that could be addressed.
Making young people feel comfortable reporting incidents and talks at schools will help, she said.
Members of the public discussed apps that can be used on their children’s smartphones to monitor what they post and see on social media, and broadly agreed that teenagers involved in attacks are more likely to listen to older teenagers instead of adults.
Council leader Cllr Simon Dudley attended, as did representatives from the Maidenhead Street Angels and town manager Steph James.
She hoped more businesses would join a safe haven scheme in the town centre, where children feeling vulnerable could go to get help.
Riverside headteacher Nick Stevens was also present, as well as Simon McCallion, the assistant for personal matters at Altwood School, and the Cox Green School deputy head Edward Hillyard.
They reiterated that the perpetrators were only a small part of the teenage population in the area.
Search Facebook for ‘Make Our Town Safe Again’ to get involved with the group.
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