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Street drinkers 'a big nuisance'
PUBLIC order offences may be down, but St Clement’s traders say the area is blighted by drunks.
Figures show crime is down in the neighbourhood, with serious acquisitive crime cut by a third from 2010/11 to 2011/12.
Total crime was down 11 per cent between these years, from 1,512 offences to 1,346.
But some traders say drinkers – many of whom congregate in Angel & Greyhound Meadow by St Clement’s car park – are a scourge.
One of the notable figures in the Thames Valley Police statistics is a rise in shoplifting from 115 to 148 incidents.
Suresh Kumar, who runs St Clements News & Booze, said a £900 CCTV system had cut thefts from about £200 to £50 a week.
He said: “There is quite a lot of shoplifting, especially from the street drinkers.
“I have banned most of them now.
“They know you are watching the alcohol, so they steal coffee, tea and expensive items and sell them and come back for booze.”
Earlier this month, £900 of phone cards was swiped under the nose of a staff member during a distraction theft, he said.
Giles Power, owner of St Clement’s Antiques, said the trouble from street drinkers is “non-stop”.
He said: “It is endless. It is slightly threatening when they come in and try to borrow money.
“It gets worse and worse, despite the occasional visit from community officers when they go down to the car park.
“The whole place should be patrolled constantly.
“A lot of people come off the Victoria coach here, this is their first sight of Oxford. It is not on.” Burglaries in buildings other than homes also rose, from 50 to 70.
A store at Fishers restaurant was broken into last month and staff belongings like cycles were taken, along with recent VAT receipts.
Jane Kennedy, one of the managers, said: “I have a false sense of security here because I go from here to my car in the car park.
“I lock myself in when I am on my own.”
Police Oxford commander Chris Sharp said Operation Bilbo, which targets serious acquisitive crime, had contributed to a drop in burglaries and public disorder.
He said: “It is good to receive feedback, the neighbourhood teams always listen to the concerns of their communities, and the shopkeepers play an important part.
“The team will work with Oxford City Council to address these concerns and focus their patrols appropriately to minimise any nuisance and antisocial behaviour caused by this,” he added.