Maidstone business owner says she’s all for stop and searches in the town centre

A mum has said she wouldn’t object to her teenage daughter being stopped and searched in light of a recent plight by officers to combat anti-social behaviour in Maidstone.Police announced last Friday (January 24) the need to implement a dispersal order in the centre of the town.This was to prevent the breakout of any fights, and any other disorders that were at risk of happening.The order means any group of two or more people judged to be causing, or likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress can be made to leave the area by a uniformed officer.

A spokesman for Kent Police said: “A number of complaints have been received by Kent Police about groups of young people involved in assaults and thefts in the town centre, during the evenings and at weekends.”In one incident, it was reported suspects may have been in possession of a knife and a baseball bat.”Patrols have also been authorised to stop and search people in the area for offensive weapons.”‘Carrying a weapon? Think again’

District Commander for Maidstone, Chief Inspector Ray Quiller said last week: “We have received several complaints about disorderly behaviour in the town centre, and officers have attended a number of reported fights and thefts.”We encourage young people to visit the town and socialise with friends but a minority have chosen to misbehave and in some cases commit crime.

“Our community policing team will be patrolling the area on foot to prevent disorder and ensure those intent on committing offences are swiftly identified.”I would advise anybody thinking of carrying an offensive weapon in the town to think again. They will be stopped, searched and arrested. Anybody we see involved in anti-social behaviour will be required to leave the area.”

It remained in place until 8.45pm on Saturday (January 25).While the violence appears to erupt at night, we spoke to one business owner who says she feels completely safe in the town centre.Collette Lee, 46, is the owner of Lottie’s Loft, a livelihood she has occupied for six years.

The lady’s boutique has an entrance opposite Gallery nightclub in Bank Street and an entrance opposite the Muggleton Inn Wetherspoon in High Street.The prime position of her shop puts her in the centre of the area feared to be most at risk from anti-social behaviour.

It’s a place to keep an eye out for one another, to help prevent crime and warn others of issues around the county.She said she was all for the stop and searches, and despite the complaints directed at the police, she has had no issues.

“We don’t get any trouble, in six years all I’ve had is someone head butt the door and break the glass, but we managed to track him down through Facebook and he paid for all the damage,” she said.”Even with the nightclub at the back, we get no aggravation at all.”So it obviously works, whatever they are doing, it’s working.

“It has not affected us in the slightest.”But, speaking of safety in the town centre, she added that the hot summer weather often attracts day drinkers.’The drunks in the summer are the real problem Collette added: “It’s full of youngsters and they are obviously going to be drunk at a certain time of night, but, we aren’t down here then.

” I do feel fairly safe down here.”You do get the drunks that sit in the square in the summer, they are a real problem.”But then they are moved on, but I would rather them not be there at all.”They come along with their little padded garden chairs and sit there all summer.”I wouldn’t want to walk past them, so I think that needs improving.”

Collette is also a mum to her 19-year-old daughter.Speaking as a mum, she said the random searches and extra patrols in Maidstone are a good thing.”I do think that’s right,” she said.”You shouldn’t be having those kinds of things on you – and if you are – it is going to be a deterrent.

“I’m all for that, I wouldn’t have no objections to my daughter being checked.”Searches aren’t going to do the town centre any harm, will they?”It has got to be in its favour, definitely.”Safety in Maidstone town centre has recently been under a spotlight after the death of Andre Bent, 21.

The student had been on a night out in Gallery nightclub when he was stabbed to death outside.He was pronounced dead at the scene in Jubilee Square from a single chest wound.

A 16-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons, is alleged to have stabbed the 21-year-old in the early hours of August 25.In November last year he pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Bent.A full trial is yet to take place.

Special Thanks to Kent Live for their Article-

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