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Early reports suggested he had become involved in an argument with a gang of youths after leaving the shops at the Dimbles. It was only as the story developed that we have discovered he was kicked to death in front of his daughter.
This incident has brought the horror of feral youngsters on Britain’s housing estates into a very local focus. You read about this sort of thing more and more, but it somehow becomes more real when you see it happening on your doorstep.
But when you examine the evidence it was hardly surprising that this sort of thing would happen. The real sadness of it all is that it took the death of a 43-year-old man to make Lichfield stand up and take notice of its problems – particularly on the Dimbles.
The nearby doctor’s surgery, the shops (and even the Tesco a little further away) are all gathering points for gangs. They provoke people who work in the area and those just visiting the shops.
Just a day before, a relative in the area had seen youngsters with a baseball bat and a golf ball smashing glasses up on their garden, with one glass being thrown at them while they carried a baby. When confronted, they just carried on without any regard for the safety of others.
If you’ve ever been down to the shops at the Dimbles then chances are you’ll have seen a police car there. So why, if the police seem to spend an above average amount of time in the area, has the problem continued to exist? Why are the same thugs allowed to terrorise a community week after week, month after month and year after year?
And most importantly, how many people will have to meet the same fate as Mr Eccles before something effective is done about it?
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