Jen Royal Leatherhead (Image Chris Caulfield)

Leatherhead residents call for more policing


A serious assault that left a man fighting for his life has left a community in shock – with some saying there aren’t enough police officers and others calling for greater CCTV provision.

On Sunday night (April 21) a man was attacked near a Leatherhead nursery by up to four teenagers.

Surrey Police has said an 18-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder with enquiries ongoing to identify and locate two other people.

Surrey Police say they do not anticipate a wider risk to the public at this time.

The violent attack, in Cleeve Road, comes on the eve of the May 2 Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner elections. with people able to cast their vote on how crime is tackled and to make sure the police provide a good service. 

The Local Democracy Service visited the town to get people’s views on whether they felt safe, and if they planned to vote in the upcoming ballot.

If the 2021 election is a fair guide then the candidates have their work cut out to get their message to the public with the winning candidate getting 155,116 total votes, out of a Surrey population  of 1.19 million,

As a percentage that figure is low but overall it makes them the individual with the highest single vote total in the county, more than any MP.

Leatherhead is one of the main towns in Mole Valley and lies near the M25. This good connectivity has brought its own issues, particularly transient crime.

One shopper in the town felt the area was no different to anywhere else, saying: “It’s the same as in most towns.  You get young kids. There was a robbery the other day at Leatherhead Station which is worrying, especially if you get a train on your own.”

She added that she wasn’t aware that elections for the Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner were due to take place on May 2.

After the Cleeve Road attack, residents took to social media calling for better CCTV, an issue that has taken greater prominence after it emerged that 77 public-space cameras in Mole Valley were left unmonitored when  Reigate Police Station closed due to dangerous RAAC.

Jen Royal said she wouldn’t be voting in the elections as she was unaware of who was running or what they stood for, but was not happy with the direction of travel the force was going.

She said: “Policing on the whole….People call them out and it doesn’t matter if it’s small crimes or big crimes and they don’t appear to get a lot of response.”

One shopper who has lived in Leatherhead for 50 years was more aware of the four candidates standing for the position. 

She told the LDRS: “It’s not safe to go out in the evening. That’s why I take a stick”.

She says the area has changed a lot in that time with many of the smaller shops disappearing, adding “it’s like a ghost town…you never see any police officers.

“We used to see them walking down the road and quite a few cars going by, but now nothing. It’s a shame. There should be more police on the streets.”

Asked if she had heard of the upcoming elections, she said she  already voted before suddenly opening her bag  saying “thank you for reminding me, I need to post it, I’m carrying it here in my bag.”

The Sunday assault happened at night in the north of the town and the victim was taken to hospital and is in serious condition.

According to the most recent published data there were 41 crimes reported in February in Leatherhead,  including 11 instances of violence and sexual offences, eight for anti-social behaviour and six for public disorder.

Olive Lee was on her way to the Fairfield Centre in Leatherhead, somewhere she sees as a real asset to the town and where she visits regularly. Some of the people the LDRS spoke with wished north Leatherhead had similar facilities for younger people.

Olive said: “Some of my friends in the centre are worried about going out in the evening but  I like Leatherhead as a place.

“I moved in with my daughter about six or seven years ago, I had retired to Cornwall, or so I thought, and I am quite happy here as a place. But I don’t go out in the evening.”

She said she was undecided about voting though as the polling station was too far from home, though she admitted it was an important election.

Olive added: “I think it makes a difference, who is running the police,  but I don’t know too much about the candidates.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for holding the Chief Constable and Surrey Police to account  – on the public’s behalf. They are also tasked with overseeing how crime is tackled and ensuring Surrey Police provides a good service. 

All British, Irish or EU citizens, as well as qualifying Commonwealth citizens with permission to enter or stay in the UK, can vote so long as they are over 18 and registered in Surrey can vote, unless legally excluded.

The general feeling in the town is one where it feels safe, particularly compared with London, but Leatherhead is not without its issues.

A woman said: “It feels safe in the town and you don’t hear about too many of these things bar a few very serious incidents and they are very few and far between.

“I don’t know about the Police and Crime Commissioner elections but I will vote, I just need to find out (about the candidates and what they stand for). 

“Another worry is always anti-social behaviour but I don’t see it. If you come in in the evening it’s fine.”

The vote takes place across Surrey with the count taking place the following day with the result expected to be announced between 3pm and 4pm.

Related reports:

Surrey’s next Police and Crime Commissioner will be?

Epsom and Ewell candidates dominate Police Commissioner election

Jen Royal Leatherhead (Image Chris Caulfield)

© 2021-2022. No content may be copied without the permission of Epsom and Ewell Times Ltd.