Newark MP Robert Jenrick hold public anti-social behaviour meeting with Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commisioner, Caroline Henry, Nottinghamshire Police, Newark and Sherwood District Council and Newark Town Council at YMCA Community and Activity Village on Lord Hawke Way
Anti-social behaviour remains one of the most widely discussed and passionately debated issues among residents who made their frustrations clear at a meeting held to answer their questions this week.
Hosted by Newark MP Robert Jenrick, the meeting was an opportunity for the public to meet with, and question, operational leads for policing, crime and anti-social behaviour.
The event was co-hosted by Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Caroline Henry, with a panel made up of Chief Inspector Clive Collins; District Commander for Newark and Sherwood, Charlotte Ellam; Newark and Sherwood District Council officers, Yvonne Swinton and Sue Miller; and Matthew Gleadell, Newark Town Council’s clerk.
Taking place at the YMCA Community and Activity Village on Lord Hawke Way, the meeting overan as residents made their concerns known to the panel.
On his reasons for holding the meeting, Mr Jenrick, said: “In the Home Office I am very focused on anti-social behaviour and it’s one of the biggest issues facing communities right across the country.
“It’s also one of the main things in my mail bag as a local MP — people really care about this issue and the situation in Newark over the course of this year has been intolerable.
“It is important that the public can have opportunities to raise their concerns directly with the police and sometimes people can find policing too distant or unresponsive.
“So this meeting gave us an opportunity for people to come and raise those concerns and hear what they had to say.
“The disgusting behaviour by a small group of people has ruined quality of life, made it hard for retailers in the town centre and wrecked events, like the fireworks which we cancelled.
“We can’t go on like this, enough is enough, and we’ve got to fix that now.”
While addressing questions from the audience, the panel spoke of the work that had been done so far by the police and other partners in tackling anti-social behaviour.
District Commander Ellam, said: “It’s no surprise that this is something that is repeatedly raised and we don’t want any scenario where the public are afraid to come into town.
“There has been a lot of conversation about this over the past six months, but anti-social behaviour has been one of our priorities for the past few years.
“It’s a complex social issue, but a lot of work has gone on and the trends in terms of statistics are starting to go in the right direction.”
This partnership approach to tackling the issue was a key point made by members of the panel, with partners such as the district council and the police working closely to share information and identify issues.
Through this approach the council has received funding via the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Safer Streets fund which has allowed for the hiring of two additional dedicated anti-social behaviour officers and paid for additional CCTV, improved lighting and security fencing at anti-social behaviour hotspots.
Since June, the police have benefited from funding for over 400 hours of additional patrols in the town centre and Newark Town Council have also made a space available to the police within the town hall, enabling officers to respond more quickly to issues.
A further £1m worth of funding is also due next April, which will fund anti-social behaviour hotspot patrolling, equivalent to over 25,000 hours of additional patrols across Nottinghamshire.
The police have also increased resources in the district with the addition of a dedicated anti-social behaviour car, a rural crime manager, vehicles for catching up with offroad bikers and the use of drones.
Despite the actions being taken by the authorities, a heavy emphasis was also placed on the reporting of crime and it’s importance in ensuring the right actions are taken in the right areas.
Yvonne Swinton, community protection manager said: “Through the creation of our anti-social behaviour panel we now have youth services, the police, our housing team, and everybody else joining together and talking to each other.
“We are doing an awful lot of work, but what we aren’t very good at is telling the public what we’re doing.
“It is a cyclical issue, we tend to deal with one problem group and then another group comes in and replaces them — so on the surface it may seem like it’s the same kids but in reality it’s not.
“So, the plea I’d make is to please keep reporting it — putting it on social media won’t resolve the issues, we won’t be able to find you as a victim, witnesses or give help where it is needed.
“We can’t get hold of all the information about the people that are making your lives hell unless it is reported to us directly through the council or through the police.
“Come and tell us what is happening and we will do our utmost to help you.”
Anti-social behaviour can be reported by calling the police on 101 or by filling out a form on the district council website HERE.
The town clerk, Matthew Gleadell, said that the issues facing the town were deep rooted, complex and with no quick fixes, but suggested that further funding from government would be required.
Robert Jenrick MP spoke of what he was doing nationally to address anti-social behaviour and how that was affecting to situation locally.
“What we’ve done as a government is to increase the number of police officers and so Nottinghamshire now has more police officers than it’s ever had,” he said.
“This means there will be more officers on the beat in Newark and in the villages.
“We’ve funded smaller project such as CCTV, youth projects and restorative justice works.
“We’re also changing the law to tackle offences and give the police more powers, some of which have been used in Newark such as the orders restricting some juvenile offenders from coming into the town centre.
“But what I want to do is keep working in partnership with the councils, the police, Caroline Henry and everyone who cares about this issue.”
Members of the panel highlighted the work being done on increasing police patrols, catching those responsible for anti-social behaviour and securing convictions.
However, members of the public raised concerns that not enough was being done to tackle the issue at it’s source and work on preventative measures, such as increasing youth services.
Chief Inspector Collins, Nottinghamshire Police’s rural crime lead, said: “I absolutely agree about diversion being key.
“We have invested in a project around low level anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and rural crime, which we call Operation Swift.
“We take young people out to Hill Holt Woods, engage them in reparation work and educate them about the impact of their behaviour.
“Of the people that have been through that project over the past nine months, 95% of them haven’t re-offended.
“I think that is an indication that this sort of approach works and that we should not instantly criminalise those that engage in this sort of behaviour, because a lot of it does come down to boredom.”
The district council’s portfolio holder for public protection, Paul Taylor, was invited to speak by the panel and said: “The only way we’re going to tackle this is in partnership.
“In August we saw a 10% reduction in anti-social behaviour in the town centre, in September it was 9% — that is good news, however, it’s not good enough.
“I want to assure you we will keep going. We need to be tough, look at improving enforcement and also address the causes when the problem lies.”
Another public meeting was proposed to take place in the next six months, in order to report back on any progress that is made in that time.