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CCTV BLIND SPOT: Crime 'out of control' in Maidstone town centre

Friday 9th July 2021

A CCTV blind spot in a town centre street is now an “out of control” crime hotspot, according to local business owners and a councillor.

Criminals, some said to be carrying knives, are dealing hard drugs, shoplifting and causing fights and antisocial behaviour.

Now Liberal Democrat borough councillor David Naghi, pictured, is calling for an urgent meeting with the area commander, Chief Inspector Gary Woodward. He blames poor policing, CCTV deficiencies and an influx of newcomers placed by London councils for problems in Week Street and Brewer Street.

Cllr Naghi said: “It's out of control. Something has to be done.”

Businesspeople claim criminals operate with impunity because some cameras do not work to record evidence for police prosecutions.

A man was charged with attempted murder after an alleged attack on May 30 in nearby Brenchley Gardens, a park known for drug-dealing and weapon carrying.

A business owner, who asked not to be named, says he was attacked in the street with a metal object, but police have been unable to establish a case because a camera did not work. There are 28 town centre CCTV cameras operated by Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) but business support group One Maidstone (OM) monitors the images.

MBC said: “There was an issue outside of the control of the council with the power supply that affected a small number of cameras. This has now been resolved.”

Another businessman is warning there will be a killing in the area.

He added: “We're coming out of a pandemic and businesses are trying to get back to normal, so it doesn't help if criminals are running around acting with impunity.”

OM’s Ilsa Butler said: “I know there have been times when the cameras haven’t worked.”