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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
George Lythgoe

'We'll find out where you live': The estates 'where you don't want to be at night'

Thugs with big dogs and mopeds have left some people 'living in fear' in the estates neighbouring Dootson's Park in the Butts Bridge area of Leigh, a number of residents have claimed.

In daytime the park, overlooked by Butts Mill, is pleasant in the spring sunshine. But when skies darken the park, along with the banks of nearby Leigh canal, have reportedly become meeting places for youths behaving anti-socially.

One neighbourhood watch member, who asked not to be named, describes youths sneaking into bushes to do 'drug pick ups', and mopeds being driven erratically along the streets. She says 'young lads' keep big dogs as 'weapons', using the zip wire in the park's play area to train their their jaws.

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Butts Mill dominates the skyline (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

She claims to have been threatened after interrupting a drug deal - being told 'we'll find out where you live' - and, in a separate incident, that she was charged at by a thug on a motorbike while walking along the canal.

As a result of this incident, and another in which a neighbour had bricks put through their windows, she has spent thousands upgrading security at her home.

Describing the incident in which she believes she stumbled on a drug pick up, she said: “Me and my friend were walking down the canal with our dogs. We went past and we knew what they were doing and we carried on walking.

“They were there behind us and then stopped and went behind some bushes to collect drugs. One of them biked up to me and asked 'who are you?' then called me a grass.

"He said he would find out where I lived and come and take my dog. We just said to ourselves, ‘keep walking’.”

On another occasion while she was walking her dog, the woman says a motorcycle rider sped at her and nearly ended up in the canal.

Police say they are committed to making the area safe for residents (Manchester Evening News)

Other residents the Local Democracy Service spoke to said there was much less trouble in the daytime - but anti-social behaviour at night was a problem, not just in the area in the shadow of the old Butts Mill, but across Leigh. All did want to be identified.

One resident said of issues at Dootson's Park: “They all sit on the benches or in the bushes and they come on with their dogs.

“I’d feel safe during the daytime here, kids are always playing on it. I wouldn’t go at night time. The bad eggs come out at night.

"I don’t think it’s that bad though, as everywhere has places like this around. In Leigh I think gangs are around - half of them are just smoking weed. It’s just at night when it is a problem. Be wary at night time.”

'I'd feel safe during the daytime here - but be wary at night' (Manchester Evening News)

Another resident, Alan, who was using the exercise machines in Dootson's Park, said 'younger kids' were at the heart of the anti-social behaviour and that he wouldn't use the park in the evening.

“A lot stems down to the parents I think. But then there are not many places for them to go and services have been cut."

Talking of the centre of Leigh, he said: “You can smell the ganja on the street in the centre... I think it’s this country in general that’s going down the pan.

Dootson's Park, Leigh (Manchester Evening News)

“Leigh has deteriorated - just go in the town centre in the day and it’s bad enough.," he added. "Whether that’s typical of northern towns I don’t know.”

The new neighbourhood policing scheme launched in March promised to have more dedicated officers for specific areas of the region. People living near Dootson Park have been told to submit reports for the police to log to help track the issue.

Police have promised more patrols (Manchester Evening News)

But the neighbourhood watch member is sceptical, saying residents have sent in reports, pictures and addresses of perpetrators to no avail. “They couldn’t catch a cold,” she said of police. “They are doing nothing.

“At night this is not a safe place to be, everyone will tell you that. Even during the day it is not that safe. There is no confidence in the police service here. We have been telling them for 12 months what is going on here.

Youths with 'nothing to do' are said to be causing problems in the area overlooked by the old Butts Mill building (Manchester Evening News)

“They say they have put more patrols on but no one has seen them walking around there. They need more boots on the ground and to be more responsive when these things are reported.

“There is a lack of acknowledgement. They just keep telling us to log things. We have been logging issues for 12 months. Others before me have tried working with police for a few years on this.”

She has approached Leigh MP James Grundy for help and is due to meet with him.

In response, GMP said 'fighting, preventing and reducing criminality within our communities is of the highest priority' - with a senior officer in the area promising that any information received would be acted upon.

By day children play, but at night 'the bad eggs come out' (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

Superintendent Ian Jones, of GMP’s Wigan district, said: “Greater Manchester Police takes a non-tolerance approach to reports of crime .Fighting, preventing and reducing criminality within our communities is of the highest priority within the Wigan district.

“Our officers are providing high visibility patrols in the areas identified and it is my promise that any information that we receive will be acted upon by GMP.

"We will use all of ours and our partners' resources and powers to ensure we make the lives of those who wish to damage our communities as hard as possible.

Dootson's Park in Leigh, off Butts Street (Manchester Evening News)

“I would like to use this opportunity to encourage anyone who has any concerns about crime in their area to contact us – GMP can be contacted via 101 or

"In an emergency, always dial 999. Information can also be shared anonymously via the independent charity – Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.”

A spokesperson for Wigan Council said: "We take reports of antisocial behaviour very seriously and work with partners, including Greater Manchester Police, to tackle the issue.

"We encourage residents to report any issues to the police on 101 (999 in the case of an emergency) or via the online reporting system at"

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