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STOCKPORT: The leafy Stockport suburb being targeted by organised crime gangs

STOCKPORT: The leafy Stockport suburb being targeted by organised crime gangs

Junction of Bramley Road and Bramley Close, in Bramhall, Stockport.

A leafy Stockport suburb has become a target for organised crime gangs, leaving some residents no longer feeling safe in their own homes.

People in affluent Bramhall say they have been rocked by a wave of break-ins and ‘to order’ thefts of up-market cars.

Locals also complain of youths in black clothing ‘frightening the life’ out of residents and a police presence that is both ‘inadequate’ in numbers and ‘slow to react’.

And with Greater Manchester Police under intense scrutiny following two damning reports Bramhall councillors have been worried enough to meet with a top officer about the situation.

In one particularly disturbing incident last month a 90-year-old widow’s bungalow was broken into during the day and a number of ‘cherished items’ were stolen.

Her phone and iPad were also taken from the property in Bramley Close.

An elderly couple on the same street were also burgled while they went out for dinner on the evening of October 1.

Criminals broke in after smashing a French window and, having found the car keys, made off with their BMW.

Both the car and house were alarmed and the vehicle was also protected with a steering wheel lock.

The lady of the house, who did not wish to be named, believes the car had ‘obviously been targeted’.

The break-in took place around 8pm, just half an hour after the couple had gone out for the evening.

“People say it was only a car, and they are right, there are far more terrible things happening in the world today, but for us it has been the knock on effect,” she said.

“Unfortunately my husband and I can no longer call ourselves spring chickens, and for us the loss of a car has been just a part of the ordeal.

“Someone smashed their way into our home, our safe place, and simply took what they wanted.

“Our home is not what it was, we have had to install extra security, and cannot help the feeling of suspicion if someone walks by and glances our way.

“What a difference a day makes, it has certainly changed our way of thinking unfortunately.”

Bernard Burgess, a resident who has frequently raises neighbours’ concerns with councillors, claims there ‘is a terrible lack of police in’ the area.

“You never see a police person nowadays,” says the 85-year-old.

“The robbery of up market cars in this area have been being stolen now for over two years on a regular basis.”

Anti-social behaviour is a further concern for Bernard, who lives in Bramley Close.

“Discipline is another thing that has slipping way back in the village here due to the fact there are so few police available,” he says.

“Some months back some 20 youths  in the village hall wearing black clothes and hooks  were completely out of control – frightening the life of residents in the street.

“I understand from all reports the police had great difficulty in controlling them.”

His comments are echoed by fellow resident Brian O’Connor, who complains the village ‘has been a continual target for car thieves and walk- in burglaries’.

“The police response has been slow to react,” he said.

“We are led to believe that there are only two police assigned  to the local area. Clearly inadequate judging by the repeat targeting of houses. Walls, locked doors, alarms and CCTV have little effect as the gangs involved are highly organised.

“Police claims of regular patrols ring hollow.”

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the brazen nature of some of the crimes was a worry.

“What is also becoming a concern is the timings of burglaries – no longer confined to the middle of the night they seem to come at all times of the day,” she said.

“In short we need to see more police, more police cars, more of a sympathetic presence.

“Yes we are lucky to live in such an area as Bramhall but that should not equate to being neglected by the authorities when there is an increase of thefts, robberies, muggings and anti-social behaviour.”

It comes just two months after councillors Edgeley and Cheadle Heath wrote an open letter to Andy Burnham, outlining their frustrations and concerns over the ‘level of crime and disorder’ in their ward.

Residents in the area  told the Local Democracy Reporting Service they felt an increased police presence and greater visibility would help to get on top of things.

But Bramhall councillor Mike Hurleston says crime in the village is not going to be solved by putting extra ‘Bobbies on the beat’.

“It’s more about having a strategy to tackle people that are stealing to order and breaking into houses to steal car keys,” he said.

“They move around from area to area and I think we have been through a bit of a period. If you look at last year burglaries went down because nobody was going anywhere, basically, and I think it’s back to a normal level.

“We are never going to have no crime, but it’s difficult from a police point of view – they can’t be everywhere.”

Coun Hurleson accepts that Andy Burnham is not ‘operationally responsible’, or to blame for a spate of car crime in Bramhall.

But he says the Greater Manchester Mayor does have to take responsibility for the beleaguered iOPS computer system, force morale and the allocation of resources.

He said: “Their reserves are at £100m. They are not short of cash. When everyone says it’s about resources or we don’t have enough Bobbies on the beat – it’s not about that. We have the resources to use, it’s how we use them.

“If morale in the force is down – I have seen articles in the MEN that people don’t have confidence – people that work for the police do not have confidence and would not trust them to report a crime. That sort of thing is definitely Andy Burnham’s territory.”

Not everyone in Bramhall share that view, however.

A resident who asked not to be named said: “I’m no great fan of his, but if you delve into the damning report about GMP’s failures, beyond the headlines, you will see there are two major failings.

“One was the failed implementation of a new IT system, the other was the complete degradation in staff morale.

“Both of these are a direct consequence of dealing with a reduction in police numbers. This isn’t something unique to Greater Manchester.

“Police forces around the country, especially those outside the South East, are experiencing similar issues.”

He added: “Looking beyond simply blaming the police force/Andy Burnham and asking why these crimes are being committed – 10 years of ‘austerity’ is a major ingredient.”

Chief Superintendent John Webster – Stockport’s new divisional commander – told a recent council meeting that resources were not an issue – and that leadership, direction and focus were the key to improving the current situation in Stockort.

He also informed councillors that a new team would concentrate all their resources on domestic burglaries.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “As well as supporting an increase in the number of police on our streets through the police precept, the Mayor has taken a number of steps to improve the performance of GMP.

“By replacing the leadership at GMP, with Chief Constable Stephen Watson taking up the position earlier this year, work is underway to embed a positive, accountable and victim-centred culture.

“Chief Constable Watson has set out his plan to record and respond to more crime, and keep communities in Stockport and in Greater Manchester safe.”

GMP has confirmed it received a report of a burglary at a property in Bramley Road, Stockport,  just before 8.30pm on October 1.

During the burglary a car was stolen.

No arrests have been made.

Anyone with information should contact police via our LiveChat function at quoting 3287 of 01/10/21.

Officers are continuing to investigate a burglary at an address on Bramley Close in Stockport, on Monday 18 October between 2.45pm and 3.30pm

Anyone with any information, or potential CCTV footage is being urged to please contact police, either through LiveChat on our website, or call 101 quoting log number 1969 of 18/10/21.

Alternatively, details on both incidents can be passed via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Words: Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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