[P]olice in Carlisle have launched an operation designed to tackle anti-social behaviour within the city centre following a spike in the number of incidents last summer.
Last year police responded to a number of incidents involving large groups of young people gathering on Scotch Street and engaging in anti-social and criminal behaviour. Police dealt with a range of crimes including, criminal damage, public order incidents and assaults on members of the public who challenged the group’s behaviour.
Last year’s situation was dealt with through Operation Orion which incorporated a short-term deployment of additional officers at peak times.
This year’s initiative, Operation Mangrove, is aiming to prevent any similar incidents. The operation was designed following concerns raised by local businesses who continue to experience anti-social behaviour in and around Scotch Street and the Lanes Shopping Centre. These incidents are happening between 4pm and 10pm and police will be increasing their visibility with dedicated officers on patrol during the evening.
On top of the increased visibility, officers will work closely with Carlisle Youth Zone to provide alternative activities for young people, including a weekly police desk at the youth zone every Friday between 5.30pm and 7.30pm. The operation will aim to build on the partnership work that is ongoing between Carlisle City Council, local residents, the Lanes Shopping Centre and other local businesses.
Whilst the aim of Operation Mangrove is to prevent crime, officers will still look to take positive action where offences are identified. Options available to officers include criminal prosecutions, Criminal Behaviour Orders and Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions for repeat offenders which could result in banning orders for specific locations in the city centre.
The operation, which began in mid-February, has already provided results:
- A 15-year-old boy reported for assault on a member of security staff at the Lanes Shopping Centre. He has been referred to youth triage.
- A 14-year-old boy reported for a public order offence in the Lanes Shopping Centre. He has been referred to youth triage.
- A 14-year-old boy reported for damage on Scotch Street to a sign and damage in the Lanes Shopping Centre. He has been referred to youth triage.
- A number of young people have been issued dispersal notices from the city centre over three separate evenings.
Sergeant Lewis Powell said: “The incidents of last summer were unacceptable as the group of youths intimidated and caused fear among members of the public on evenings and the city centre. This year we want to make sure that any such incidents are dealt with in order to prevent any momentum of criminal and anti-social behaviour.
“We understand that young people want to meet and gather with friends and we encourage them to do so. All we ask is that when doing so they don’t commit crimes or anti-social behaviour. Please think about the impact your actions have on innocent local members of the community.
“Operation Mangrove incorporates a holistic multi-agency approach to these issues by looking to address any vulnerability issues that are identified.
“We hope that the increased visibility provides reassurance to those members of the community who hold such concerns. From the 6th April, we will be holding a weekly police desk on Thursday afternoons at Carlisle Library between 3pm and 5pm for those who would like to meet us to report incidents, obtain advice or raise concerns.”
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “I’m really pleased to see this initiative as tackling anti-social behaviour is one of the priorities in my Police and Crime Plan. Anti-social behaviour is the scourge of our communities, and can cause a huge amount of anxiety for people living amongst it. We do not wish to criminalise youngsters and we need to find alternative activity for them, but we must be very clear that we will act to stop anti social behaviour. I would encourage residents in Carlisle to take advantage of the Police desk to raise any concerns they have.”
Anyone experiencing such incidents is asked to contact police on 101.