A STORE manager is at his wit’s end having endured seven years of violence, antisocial behaviour and racist abuse from yobs.

Rafiah Kumeran has run the 24-hour Costcutter store, in London Road, Westcliff. for the past 14 years, but he has faced a massive increase in violence, racism, and antisocial behaviour in the past seven years.

Since November, Mr Kumeran’s store has been robbed five times – the latest being a thug stealing a till armed with a hammer on January 4.

Mr Kumeran also claims he faces a near daily battle with yobs who shout racist abuse at him, urinate in his store and start fights which have led to thousands of pounds worth of damage being caused inside.

He said: “It’s been going on for years; there is a gang of them, they keep bringing their trouble inside my store. Their fights will begin outside, but then they end in the store.

“They won’t leave the store alone, when police have come they have run away, but not long after police leave they come right back again. They come in and wee in the corner, and they’ve smashed my windows. It happened in November, and I had to pay £1,000 to get it fixed.

“You can try and stand up for yourself, but we can’t actually do anything or defend ourselves, we don’t want to get in trouble for getting involved in any violence.

“Often if I do confront them, they shout: ‘Go back to your country,’ or ‘You need to leave here’, and other things.”

Mr Kumeran’s staff members have also suffered threats and abuse, with the yobs even targeting his customers, as some have come into the store in tears after the group abused them outside.

He said: “We work different shifts, some early and some late. Sometimes, I can finish at 9pm, but they still hang around there until 2am, and when I arrive to start at 7am, some are already back there.”

Mr Kumeran says he has sent a number of letters to police, Southend Council and various Essex MPs to get support but says none have ever responded.

He fears that if the level of anti-social behaviour gets worse and no action is taken, he may be forced to close the store for his own safety.

While police attend robbery incidents, he claims they do not take any action over the anti-social behaviour.

He added: “I need something done. They need to be fought. I’m just trying to run a store, but we are all being hounded by these kids. I don’t know what to do.”

Police District Commander's response

THE district commander of Southend has urged anyone who is a victim of crime to report all incidents to police.

Chief Inspector Neil Pudney, said: “As with any crime, we take reports of anti-social behaviour seriously as we understand the impact it can have not only on an individual, but on a community too.

“Working alongside colleagues at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and South Essex Homes as part of the Community Safety Partnership, we routinely take enforcement action against those committing crime and disorder whilst supporting those with vulnerabilities and ensuring they receive the support they need.

“We will also continue to work with residents to make sure their views are heard and discuss ways we can all work together to improve quality of life throughout Southend.

“We work with our partners to address these issues, but we need the community to help by reporting incidents of crime, including anti-social behaviour to us by calling on 101. In an emergency, always dial 999.”

Southend Council's response

SOUTHEND Council has claimed great work is being done to combat anti-social behaviour.

Mark Flewitt, cabinet member for public protection, declined to comment on Mr Kumeran’s situation but said more patrols would come to Westcliff.

He said: “The council is taking many proactive steps to reduce ASB crime within the borough through extensive partnership work with Essex police and council officers.

“The community safety team has proven hugely successful in the High Street and after receiving feedback from residents and businesses, we will be looking at incorporating patrols in areas further afield to the High Street.”