Home Secretary Theresa May pledged her support for a campaign to reduce crime in Burnt Oak as she campaigned in north London today.

The government minister was shown a cut-through between Watling Avenue and Silkstream Road which is regularly vandalised and a hotspot for anti-social behaviour.

People living in the area told Mrs May there is a high burglary rate in the area, and people often leave litter and houshold items near to the stream.

Sixty-four-year-old Deirdre Hackett, who has lived in the area since she was two-years-old, said: “In the past few years it’s just been dreadful. The footpath is full of people drinking, doing drugs and rats.

“People used to be jealous saying we’re living in the loveliest road on the estate, but now no one wants to live here anymore.

“We need a visable police team because at the moment we’re on our own. My husband and I won’t go out together, one stays in while the other goes out because we’re worried about what could happen.”

Residents also told Mrs May about witnessing people sleeping in trees in Silkstream Park, as well as a recent fire near to the footpath.

The MP for Hendon, Matthew Offord, who had invited Mrs May to talk to residents in the Burnt Oak estate, asked if she would be willing to support their campaign to close the footpath.

Mrs May said: “I will support it because having seen it for myself, it’s not the most pleasant place. It’s obviously causing problems and seeing the fire there must have been horrifying.”

Following calls for a better police presence in the area, Mrs May added: “We have been trying to toughen up the police’s ability to deal with the lower end of anti-social behaviour. It matters that they actually come and deal with burglary because if they don’t deal with it then what message does that give everybody?

“They should also hold regular meetings and give feedback.”

But Maureen West, who runs the Neighbourhood Watch for the borough of Barnet, said more money needs to be spent in order to more police support.

She said: “Nothing is changing here, but it needs money to change it. I communicate with the police all the time and they’re doing their best but there’s just not enough of them.”

Mr Offord said he will work with Mrs May’s office in order to close the footpath in the hope it will deter further anti-social behaviour in the area.