‘Murder, raids and a scalping’ in UK’s ‘forgotten town’ with barely any police



Tim North was watching television in his bedroom when police officers knocked on the door.

They told the 57-year-old docker that his son Kevin was badly hurt and that he should go to the hospital to see him as soon as possible.

Craig, or Noggo as he was known in his hometown of Tilbury, had been found bleeding on the pavement about 150m from his family home.

There were little doctors could do to save him.

Three days later the 35-year-old’s dad, who had been barred from being in the room with his son due to Covid protocols until that point, switched off his life support machine.

Tim said a post-mortem examination found Craig, a dad-of-three, had deep knife wounds in his back that had ripped through several of his organs.

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Craig North died at the beginning of January
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Tim Merry)

Darnel Curtin, 19, of nearby Chesterton Way, was charged with murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

As the upcoming court case rolls on for what will likely be months, Tim and his family have been left to grieve in a town he’s seen change dramatically over the past five decades.

“There used to be fights when we’d go out to the pub, but you’d just get hit in the face and that’d be it,” Tim told The Mirror, while washing his car outside the home where he was born .

“The area is a problem. It’s a bad old place now. Round here, there’s a lot of trouble.”

Tim North said Tilbury is a “bad old place” now
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Tim Merry)

As much as you might expect a man who’s just lost his son to see the worst of the town where he died, the statistics suggest that Tilbury is a place that’s struggling.

It tops the charts as Essex’s most dangerous small town.

Residents are twice as likely to be burgled, robbed or violently attacked than the average person in the county, while sexual assault and rape reports are a third higher.

Crime is on the up in the estuary town
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Tim Merry)

Talk to people in the town, which has a vast, brand new Amazon warehouse on its edge, not far from the historic docks, and they’ll tell you that Tilbury has been on the way down for a while.

What didn’t help the situation, or that in dozens of similar towns across the UK which had seen their crime rates rise steadily from the mid-2010s until the coronavirus lockdown, was the police station shutting, along with nine others across Essex in 2015 .

The force put it up for sale in a bid to balance the books, but more than half a decade later it sits across from the library, boarded up and empty.

The sight of a bobby on the beat, or even a patrol car, is an increasingly rare one in Tilbury.

Sue Nelson, a widow of 17 years who moved into her current home in 1986, calls Tilbury “the forgotten town.”

“There is so much crime now,” the 69-year-old said as she paused on the steps of the police station.

“It is getting so much worse since the station went.”

Nick Patel’s shop was raided twice in a year
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Tim Merry)

Like Maggie Wood, who works in a charity shop in the town centre, Sue doesn’t go outside at night by herself anymore.

The 67-year-old “felt quite safe when it was open”, but “you don’t see so many police now.”

Again and again people told us that the kids have nothing to do now, that you never see police anymore and that it’s got worse since the station closed.

And everyone has a horror story.

Nick Patel works in a corner shop that’s been raided twice in the past year, with burglars making off £15,000 of cigarettes and cash on a single night.

Sue Nelson calls Tilbury the ‘forgotten town’
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Tim Merry)

Ruth Parvis, 87, lost £300 to door-knock fraudsters pretending to be from the council.

Charlotte Ward, 26, and her two-year-old are watched in horror as a car smashed a moped into the front wall of her home.

Two men jumped out and grabbed the rider, she said, using machetes to try and “scalp” him.

The victim survived, but no one was charged with attacking him.

Residents said the town had been struggling in recent years
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Tim Merry)

Whether or not the police could have stopped these crimes is unclear.

What isn’t, at least in the minds of those living in Tilbury, is the sense that the law is much less visible now than before.

For years now Boris Johnson has been hammering the mantra that the Tories have employed 20,000 more officers.

In truth, he has only replaced 10,000 of the 22,000 officers slashed during David Cameron’s government.

A boarded up guests house off the main street
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Tim Merry)

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Those that are left are based on fewer than 600 stations – 50% fewer than the number the Conservative’s inherited in 2010.

Last month Alison Hernandez, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, decided the vanishing presence of police on her town’s streets had to be halted.

Speaking to reporters at an Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ briefing, she told of her plans to reopen six stations in her region but said it is “very hard” to get such proposals “over the line” as chiefs try to justify the resource .

“The reason they closed was because of low footfall,” she said.

“But I think public confidence is so needing to be reinvigorated in policing that we need to reopen and show that policing is open to the public, that policing is accessible to the public.”

Essex Police notes that reported crimes had fallen in Thurrock – the area including Tilbury – in 2021 compared to 2019.

This echoes national trends which a decade high decrease across the UK, seemingly fueled by the national lockdown.

The Force says policing numbers are at a record high having just topped 2012 levels after years of staffing cuts.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Our officers are dedicated to catching criminals and making Essex the safest it can be.

“We want officers out in the communities they serve. As a result, we have invested heavily in technology to allow that to happen so that officers spend more time patrolling without the need to return to the station to complete reports.”

A Home Office spokesperson added: “The Government is already over halfway to recruiting an additional 20,000 additional police officers and the police are being given the powers, tools and funding they need to cut crime.”




www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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