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Antisocial behaviour down in Carlisle city centre with more work to come

L-R: PCSO Niall Ritchie, Police Sergeant Lewis Powell, PCSO Rebecca Walton and Police Inspector Diane Bradbury

Incidents of antisocial behaviour in Carlisle city centre have been found to have fallen by 20 per cent in 2018 compared to the previous year.

In 2018 there were a total of 538 incidents of antisocial behaviour in the city centre, compared with 674 in 2017.

The figure includes a 22 per cent reduction in youth antisocial behaviour, with 268 incidents reported in 2018 compared to 344 in 2017.

The reduction has coincided with a number of proactive measures which were put in place to tackle antisocial behaviour in the city centre.

Police Sergeant Lewis Powell said: “The city centre team have done a lot of work over the past couple of years to address city centre antisocial behaviour.

“Whilst we are pleased the latest figures show positive signs for the city centre, it is not just about statistics. More importantly we want to ensure that the city centre is a safe and pleasant place for local people to enjoy.

“I am confident that there has been genuine improvements over the past couple years and that local people will see this when walking around, particularly on an evening time.”

Youth antisocial behaviour has been a particular priority for the team, with steps taken to tackle this.

Sergeant Powell said: “We previously had large groups of youths regularly congregating on Scotch Street. These groups were arranging to meet on social media and were forming in groups of up to a hundred. Not only were these groups very intimidating for local people but they were often involved in crime and disorder, whilst there were also teenagers in the groups who were vulnerable, such as regularly missing or at risk of exploitation. A lot of work has been completed alongside our partners, not only to address the behaviour but also the vulnerability issues.

“We have undertaken initiatives to address other city centre issues, such as day-time street drinking and issues around homelessness. We worked alongside the city council Homeless team and partners to ensure that housing and welfare needs were being met and that support was offered where needed. We have seen good improvements in both these areas over recent months.”

The team is also running regular test purchasing operations on licensed premises to help ensure those underage are not able to purchase alcohol, which is also assisting in keeping antisocial behaviour low.

Sergeant Powell said that, while positive steps are being made, officers will be continuing to look at new initiatives to stay on top of city centre issues.

Sergeant Powell said: “The city centre is busy, and I appreciate that there will always be issues but we as a team are keen to remain on top of problems and address them at an early stage as they arise. We work alongside our partners in the multi-agency Local Focus Hub – based at the Civic Centre – wherever possible to try and provide multi-agency sustainable solutions to issues.

“We had isolated incidents of youth antisocial behaviour over the Christmas holidays, relating to Scotch Street and inside The Lanes Shopping Centre which involved a group of teenagers persistently causing problems. Following this we issued a number of Acceptable Behaviour Contracts and Community Protection Warnings to those concerned. These measures have worked really well and we have had no further issues over the past few weeks.”

The contracts and warnings are used as preventative measures, with a view to trying to keep young people out of the Criminal Justice System.

The town centre team works alongside the Youth Offending Team and other partners, to divert youths away from criminality wherever possible. However, when necessary, officers have and will continue to take firmer action if behaviour does not improve.

Police Inspector Diane Bradbury praised the work of her Local Focus team.

Inspector Bradbury said: “The work of my PCSOs and police officers in conjunction with a partnership approach has led to a marked reduction in antisocial behaviour in the city, keeping the city an enjoyable place to visit, live and work but also preventing young people from escalating behaviours that could lead to the criminal justice system.

“We plan more visibility and antisocial behaviour reduction measures throughout 2019.”

The team will continue to hold a weekly police desk in Carlisle Library every Thursday between 3pm and 5pm where you are able to meet a local Police Community Support Officer and discuss any matters of concern. The team also holds a monthly police desk in Carlisle Youth Zone, where dates are confirmed each month online.

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