Police chief says rural crime team is tackling increase in incidents at derelict base

RAF Upwood

RAF Upwood - Credit: Archant

The chief constable for Cambridgeshire has said it is “not uncommon” for derelict sites like RAF Upwood to be hit with low level crime, following an increase in call-outs to the former airbase.

The plot, in Upwood Road, served as a night landing site during the Second World War and then as an American air force base, but since its decommission has become a hotspot for low level crime and anti-social behaviour.

“I know Laura Hunt who is the current area commander for Huntingdonshire is well aware of the issues that have been reported at RAF Upwood,” Alec Wood, Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire police, said.

“From my experience of RAF bases that get redeveloped in other parts of the country, it is not uncommon for this low level crime to take place on those sites, but it can blight the lives of the people that are there.”

In 2015, police were called out 28 times to the site – 11 more than the year before that – with reports from residents including incidents of trespass, violence, burglary and anti-social behaviour.

Between January and April of this year alone, there have been six recorded incidents, and more incidents were reported last month, including children seen climbing on the derelict buildings and youths on motorbikes.

A police spokesman said: “The area surrounding RAF Upwood is regularly patrolled by the Rural Crime Action Team in an effort to combat anti-social behaviour. We encourage local residents to report any incidents by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency.”

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Led by a sergeant, the rural crime team is made up of five police constables, a detective constable, a PCSO and two special constables.

RAF Upwood was taken over by Strawsons Property in 1999 and the firm hopes to build 160 houses, but delays in planning have meant the site still lies dormant.

Adrian Sail, development manager for Strawsons, said: “We went to the planning committee in December 2013, would you believe, and passed resolution to grant but here we are 18 months later and we haven’t got a decision notice from the planning authority.

“We are getting closer to getting a decision notice. I think there are a number of reasons; general staff shortages at the council which have not been helpful in driving it forward, and other issues with drainage.”

To see plans for RAF Upwood, visit huntingdonshire.gov.uk.