Appeal for calm on Oakley Vale as community tensions run high

File picture. The Oakley Vale estate.
File picture. The Oakley Vale estate.

Community leaders have appealed for calm on a Corby estate hit by a series of arson attacks and sexually inappropriate incidents involving young children.

Police leaders have implemented a Community Tensions Assessment document, have flooded the area with uniformed police officers, have held two meetings with residents and have sent PCSOs into primary schools to talk to children about how they can maximise their safety.

Their action came after people living in the Oakley Vale estate were left angry and confused after the spate of incidents in recent weeks which are all believed to have been carried out by one man.

Several fires have been lit, cars have been torched – including a police vehicle – and a number of children have been approached by the suspect who has taken pictures of them and asked them to remove clothing.

There is no suggestion that any of the children have done as he asked or have been touched.

Now, after a home where a suspect lives with innocent members of his family was targeted in vigilante attacks, officers have reassured people living in Oakley Vale that they are taking all the incidents extremely seriously and are thoroughly investigating using all the resources available to them.

Although a suspect is on police bail he was freed earlier this week after a court appearance for a separate incident, leaving residents fearful for their safety.

Feelings are running high on social media with many parents calling for more to be done.

Corby Inspector Julie Mead, who has led two fiery public meetings on the issue, said: “The community has come to us with their concerns.

“We are listening to what they are telling us and we want to reassure them that we are doing every single thing within our power.

“The suspect came to our attention because he was taking photographs of children and the park and asking them to take their clothes off.

“Our PCSOs acted immediately and the suspect was arrested and questioned.”

As with any investigation, officers have to ensure that their investigation is thorough and their evidence is robust.

Police say that investigating a high volume of incidents, many of which involve young children as the victims, takes time and care, and they want to ensure that investigations are carried out properly to ensure the highest chance of bringing someone to justice.

Insp Mead added: “CID still have a lot of investigating to do. We need to do a good job and it’s not going to happen overnight.

“There are some very serious offences here.

“All the local elected members and the chief executive of Corby Council have had a briefing.

“The risk is being mitigated. The local mental health team has been out to do an assessment.

“We have had two meetings with the community and as I said to them, I am treating this as seriously as I would if I lived on that street myself, as if my children lived there.

“People are angry because they are scared and I understand why.

“I really want people to remain calm. I take this very personally and I will do everything in my power to keep people safe.

“I understand that this is a sensitive issue and that the community are rightly concerned, but please be reassured that any actions that we can lawfully take have been robustly enforced and all safeguarding measures are in place.”