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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 15:16 GMT
Spotlight thrust on Newlove area
Crime scene
The Fearnhead area was thrust into the spotlight by the murder
In the days following the murder of Garry Newlove, the Fearnhead area of Warrington found itself thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Neighbours of Mr Newlove complained they had been plagued by anti-social behaviour for years.

The murder sparked a national debate about youth drinking culture and the police chief leading the inquiry called for the legal drinking age to be raised to 21.

Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, called for a ban on drinking in public areas outdoors to help combat alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour.

He later said underage drinking was a "child protection issue" and parents must take action to stop it or face "sanctions" from the care system.

Justice should be done for Garry and his family but Fearnhead should not be demonised in the process
Lynn Clarke, resident

But the warning signs in Fearnhead appear to have already been apparent before the attack on Mr Newlove in August 2007.

On the night the father of three was murdered, community support officers are believed to have stopped a gang, which included his killers, because they appeared drunk.

The youths are thought to have thrown their bottles of alcohol into bushes, before returning later to retrieve them.

It is also believed Mr Newlove made repeated calls to the police about unruly teenagers roaming the streets, but these were ignored.

Insp Derek Lockie, neighbourhood inspector for east Warrington, said Mr Newlove's death had come as a "bitter blow" to the Fearnhead community.

Peter Fahy
The Cheshire Chief Constable called on parents to take action
But, he said, lessons had been learned.

He said: "There are a number of issues which have come out of this - what my officers have done is to locate hotspots where we know gangs congregate to drink, and have targeted them.

"We don't just simply move them on, because that doesn't work.

"If a child is found drinking we call their parents, take them down to the police station and explain what the dangers are.

"I think Mr Newlove's death has made that all the more real to a lot of people around here.

"I'm very positive about the future. Lessons have been learned and we are determined that what took place on 12 August should never happen in Warrington again."

'Nice area'

Residents themselves remain divided over the extent of the problem in the area.

A 40-year-old woman, of Cinnamon Lane, said she would never go out alone after dark because of her fear of gangs.

She said: "I've never walked along the road after dark because children drink and become nasty and abusive.

"There are areas I wouldn't go to. I have never been to the shops alone. You see youngsters drunk - it's not worth taking a risk."

Garry Newlove
Mr Newlove had complained to police before about problems
But Leanne Dysart, head of the local residents' association, said Mr Newlove's murder had led to a false image of the area being created.

Lynn Clarke, a neighbour of the Newlove family, said it was a "nice" area.

"What happened was very unfortunate but it has created a bad reputation", she said.

"The residents who come to our meetings have issues about overgrown hedges, parking on pavements and everyday quarrels in neighbourhoods.

"Youths terrorising the streets is not one of the issues we deal with.

"There is a handful of bad eggs, but 99% of the youths around here are great kids.

"Justice should be done for Garry and his family but Fearnhead should not be demonised in the process."



SEE ALSO
Youths remanded over man's death
14 Aug 07 |  Merseyside



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