Bring back Bath Police Station – and give us some CCTV camera street surveillance – say some of the traders around the Circus and Assembly Rooms districts following a spate of organised crime which has left one antique dealer and a major museum devastated.
Priceless Chinese artefacts have been stolen by four masked men who smashed their way into the Museum of East Asian Art earlier this week. They got away with jade, ceramic and gold artefacts in a raid that was probably a targeted attack with the objects stolen to order.
Also, last Thursday , the antique silver shop, Beau Nash on Brock Street, was the victim of a major break-in when five robbers smashed in the front door at midnight and made off with quantities of antique silver stock.
Speaking to one of the owners Bath Newseum heard that the police arrived very quickly and did a great job but he thought that CCTV street surveillance might have deterred the raid or given valuable clues to the raiders’ identities. He wants B&NES to get some cameras in operation as soon as possible.
An elderly lady living in a flat above the shop shouted at the men from out her window. They pelted her with stones.
The raid is costing the business thousands of pounds – including money that will have to be spent on additional security.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Assembly Rooms, another trader told me the break-ins weren’t the only criminal activity in the area.
“Earlier the same day, a lady from Alfred Street came in saying that there was a drug deal being exchanged in broad daylight outside her front door opposite the Assembly Inn.
Last month, stock was stolen from my wife’s shop. Also, about a month ago, we heard the awful reports of four people being mugged at knifepoint at the top end of Bath, each one a separate incident on the same day,’ said this trader who wishes to remain anonymous.
‘Over the past twelve months, we have seen several drug deals happening in or around Bartlett Street which have been reported to the Police.
Every day we see street beggars, drinkers and drug-users stumbling up and down Bartlett Street, Milsom Street and Stall Street several times a day, sometimes directly approaching people to beg, which is illegal, and often drinking in public, which is illegal.
Since last October there have been several reports of serious sexual assaults. Last week we heard the report of a serious sexual assault on Westgate Street.’
The trader told Bath Newseum that a report on Somerset Live said that, over the past twelve months, Bath has seen an increase in burglary of 31%. That there had been a very noticable rise in reported crime – seemingly since the closure of the City’s only Police Station.
‘How can it be possible for a major city, a World Heritage City which is one of this country’s main tourist locations, to not have a fully functioning Police Station.
It is an absolute outrage that through the incompetence of city management this has been allowed to happen and it has quickly led to our city being seen as an easy target for criminals and has allowed and even encouraged increasingly more serious crime to occur.’
The trader – who didn’t want to be named – said he had written to Wera Hobhouse and Cllr Peter Turner to request that they lobby the Council Cabinet for a Police Station to be reinstated, to include a functioning custody suite with holding cells and let people have a greater Police presence within Bath, as a matter of utmost urgency.
I caught up with Lucy Simon who is Secretary of the Bath Independent Organisation which represents traders, hotels and restaurants in the town.