More than 30,000 hours of extra uniformed patrols help drive down ASB

More than 30,000 additional hours of targeted uniformed patrols has helped drive down anti-social behaviour (ASB) by more than 30 per cent in some ‘hotspot’ areas.

Oct 25, 2023
By Paul Jacques
Picture: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

These extra patrols, along with hundreds more arrests and stop and searches, were just one part of the Government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan, launched six months ago.

The latest data from police and crime commissioners (PCCs) shows that since hotspot uniformed patrols have been rolled out in ten pilot areas, there have been more than 250 arrests, over 600 stop and searches and around 1,000 other enforcement actions such as community protection notices and public protection orders.

Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “Anti-social behaviour ruins neighbourhoods and brings fear and misery to local people, be it people smoking cannabis in the street, intimidating gatherings in public spaces or acts of vandalism.

“We will not tolerate it. I am delighted that our action plan and zero-tolerance approach is beginning to have a positive impact in communities up and down the country.

“By giving the police and local partners the tools they need to tackle anti-social behaviour we can help ensure wherever people live they can feel safe and proud of the place they call home.”

Through the Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan up to £20 million of funding will be invested in 16 pilot areas to trial either ‘hotspot’ police and enforcement patrols, or a new ‘Immediate Justice’ scheme to bring in swift and visible punishments to perpetrators of ASB. Some areas are trialling both schemes.

Several ‘hotspot’ trial forces have have seen significant declines in ASB.

Lancashire Constabulary has reported that in Brunswick, Blackpool, there has been a 36 per cent fall in reported incidents of ASB compared to the same period last year when hotspot patrols were not in place.

Staffordshire Police has seen a a combined 20 per cent fall in reported incidents of ASB across five locations in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle under-Lyme compared with the previous year.

It is estimated that that at least 150,000 hours of additional individual police and partner ‘hotspot’ patrols will be delivered by March 2024 across the ten pilot areas before the initiative is rolled out across every police force in England and Wales later in the year.

The announcement on Wednesday (October 25) coincides with a meeting of the ASB taskforce.

Jointly led by the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, this will bring together PCCs, police chiefs, and local partners to continue to drive progress on the Government‘s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan.

The meeting will allow those on the ground to give first-hand account of what is working in the ASBanti-social behaviour in their local area community and enable ministers to be sure that those on the front line have the tools they need.

This comes after the Government recently announced that possession of nitrous oxide, also known as ‘laughing gas’, will be illegal from November 8, 2023, delivering on the Home Secretary’s pledge to get tougher on flagrant drug taking in local communities and associated anti-social behaviour.

Other measures that have been delivered since the launch of the plan include:

  • Every PCCin England and Wales has been allocated up to £1 million as part of the Safer Streets Fund to cover the period from October 1, 2023 to March 31, 2025, to run local projects to combat ASB, acquisitive crime and violence against women and girls;
  • Additional funding of up to £2.5 million has been put in place for Transport Safety Officers to make public transport safer including specially-trained staff to deal with low-level nuisance and disorder;
  • The punishment for those who graffiti, litter or fly tip has been increased with fines of up to £500 and £1,000; and
  • An extra one million hours of youth services has been provided for areas with the highest rates of ASB to put people on the right track and prevent them from offending in the first place

In the coming months, an Anti-Social Behaviour One-Stop-Shop will be launched where people can report ASB to the right local responders and get feedback on the response. This will also enable local agencies to share information on perpetrators of anti-social behaviour within communities, identify repeat offenders and take necessary action.

The Home Office says this tool will ensure that members of the public can find local services that are best placed to act on their reports of ASB and to build confidence that reports will be taken seriously and addressed.

Landlords and housing associations will also be given more powers to evict unruly tenants who ruin their neighbours’ lives through anti-social behaviour

In addition, parks and green spaces are being restored with up to £5 million to make them safer with new CCTV and repairing equipment and playgrounds, and to plant more trees and flowers.

Work is also underway to bring forward legislation to repeal the outdated Vagrancy Act 1824, with a package of new measures to better equip the police and local authorities to respond to nuisance begging and rough sleeping which can be harmful to individuals themselves and to the wider public

Rebecca Bryant OBE, chief executive of Resolve said: “We know from our own research that many victims and witnesses don’t report anti-social behaviour, but they’d be more likely to report behaviour if there was a more visible police and agency presence.

“This ‘hotspot’ approach makes the best use of – limited – resources, and we very much look forward to seeing it rolled out across the country. “

Case studies:

Lancashire Constabulary – This year hotspot patrols in Brunswick, Blackpool by Lancashire Constabulary during July, August and September have seen police working with local partners to tackle anti-social behaviour including begging, sex working and threatening behaviour. The increased presence of officers on the street has seen reports of incidents anti-social behaviour decline by 36.6 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Staffordshire Police – This year hotspot policing by Staffordshire Police during July, August, and September in 5 hotspot areas in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle under-Lyme has seen a combined decline in reported incidents of anti-social behaviour of 20 per cent by members of the public compared to the same period last year.

In Newcastle-under-Lyme town centre additional police patrols were put in place to combat drug and alcohol related anti-social behaviour. After identifying areas where drug paraphernalia was being discarded, follow up work with partner agencies by the police took place to clean up the area alongside high visibility patrols to provide reassurance to the local community and deter drug users. After dispersing groups of young people, a quantity of drugs, including monkey dust and cannabis, was seized alongside several knives.

Essex Police – Over 2,757 hours of police patrols, and 1,400 hours of Community Safety Partnership patrols, have now been delivered in eleven anti-social behaviour hotspots across Essex. As a result, there has been 35 arrests, 109 Stop and Searches, 58 Informal Warnings issued and 45 Fixed Penalty Notices issued.

In one pilot area, Debden, police and Community Safety Partnership teams have worked collaboratively to use a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to tackle a high volume of anti-social behaviour incidents relating to drug taking, nuisance noise, aggressive begging, intimidation and fighting. This work has made a difference to local business owners and the public who praised the positive proactive work of the team.

Sussex Police – In Sussex, a man was caught graffiti tagging on an industrial estate, damaging property and causing a negative effect on surrounding businesses, staff and members of public passing through the area.

The individual was referred by officers into the Immediate Justice Scheme and he was required to carry out reparative work within Brighton’s city centre, including litter picking and weeding public planters in an area known for ASB incidents.

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