The chief inspector in Watford has suggested targeted operations to resolve anti-social behaviour (ASB) and drug taking and dealing in Cassiobury Park are working.

Crime within the park has risen, particularly during lockdown, and police have received a spate of complaints over the last few weeks.

But during an interview with the mayor of Watford on Friday, chief inspector Matt Phillips suggested police are having success in tackling the problems plaguing the park.

Ch Insp Phillips said: "I think because the town centre was closed down, we saw some disperse of the youths we would normally see in the town centre and other people moving down to Cassiobury Park, and we had reports of anti-social behaviour down in the car parks and across the park, and we saw reports of robbery increasing there. 

"Working together (with Watford Borough Council), we increased our patrols down there from where our residents and visitors reported those issues which resulted in arrests and disruption as well."

Watford Observer:

Canisters left in Gade Avenue car park at Cassiobury Park

Watford Observer:

In mid to late June, police warned it would be stepping up its patrols in the park.

This was in response to drug dealing and ASB in Gade Avenue car park, nitrous oxide canisters being scattered across the park, and large groups congregating which broke social distancing rules.

A number of people were given Section 59 warnings, meaning if they are caught using their vehicles in an anti-social manner again they will be seized by police.

To combat the issues in Gade Avenue car park, the council installed a barrier which prevented vehicles getting into the car park overnight.

Ch Insp Phillips said in his meeting with the mayor that the barrier has had a "good impact".

Watford Observer:

This barrier has been installed by the council at Gade Avenue car park

During the live video conversation on Friday, one viewer commented they had found drug paraphernalia in the park and accused the police and council of "not doing enough".

Ch Insp Phillips responded: "If you do come across drugs paraphernalia anywhere, we want to know about it. If that's going to give us an indication of where people may be taking controlled substances, we can start dealing with it. 

"I know we have had reports of nitrous oxide canisters down in the car park at Cassiobury Park. That’s now dropped off because of action we have taken.

"We had other reports of drug taking in Cassiobury Park. We increased our patrols so hopefully we are taking chunks out of this issue already.

 "If people are coming across items like that, please let us know where we can find them and then we can start targeting our patrols and being a little more surgical and clever about how we’re going to deal with it."

Known incidents in Cassiobury Park since the beginning of June

June 2 - two boys,  both aged 15, threatened with a knife and robbed leaving the park

June 15 - two teenage girls touched inappropriately. One man arrested.

June 17 - reports of drug dealing and anti-social behaviour in Gade Avenue car park

June 21 - mini grey canisters left scattered across Gade Avenue car park

The council has also dealt with litter being left in the park while police say more lockdown fines were issued in Watford than anywhere else in Hertfordshire.

Watford Observer:

An example of rubbish left in Cassiobury Park at the end of May