More police officers are being brought in to Doncaster town centre to tackle anti-social behaviour, crime, aggressive begging and to deter drug dealing and use. This includes a focus on the impacts of Spice which is affecting towns and cities across the country.
In a joint move with South Yorkshire Police, Doncaster Council is funding additional police officers to provide more intensive and longer patrols in the town centre.
This will mean joint patrols of police officers and the council’s neighbourhood and town centre teams will be on duty seven days a week from 7am to 10pm.
The additional resources of at least two police officers and two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will bolster the current dedicated town centre team of six police officers including a sergeant and seven council officers.
The boosted patrols follow discussions between the Mayor and Chief Executive of Doncaster Council with South Yorkshire Police as part of a coordinated response to issues in the town centre which are affecting visitors and businesses.
The patrols are planned to begin next week starting September 3 and will initially be in place for a three month pilot which will be monitored for effectiveness in dealing with issues. If successful, the pilot might be extended.
A public campaign in partnership with local businesses will also be launched shortly in areas affected by the anti-social behaviour including drug taking to encourage giving to charities that help people with substance addiction and homelessness rather than giving on the streets. This will discourage begging and help those who are seeking help to access direct support to turn their lives around.
Both of these actions are part of a robust joint action plan agreed with local business leaders earlier this month. This latest activity was announced at the Doncaster Business Forum meeting last night (Wed). The action plan also includes:
- Better co-ordinated patrols of police and community neighbourhood teams to deal with drug dealing and anti-social behaviour
- Co-ordinated work to support people into accommodation and support for addictions and mental health and related issues
- Smarter communications between the agencies and businesses to deal with issues quicker and based upon information businesses can offer directly
- A campaign to discourage town centre visitors from giving to those who are begging as it could feed addictions and get in the hands of drug dealers who need to be stopped
- Making some places in the town centre that attract anti-social behaviour brighter with better lighting to discourage people from congregating
- Relooking at how the town centre seating and spaces are configured so as not to be a magnet for anti-social activity and taking down market stands at the end of market days to remove ready-made spaces
- More clean ups and cleansing runs to make areas more attractive and reduce litter and other debris
- Enhancing the current programme of town centre events that encourage people into the town centre and let businesses know what’s coming up so they can support
- Collaborating with businesses in the run up to Christmas to boost footfall
- Continuing to work with the courts and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on sentencing for criminal activity and the support that is given to people who are released from prison with the probation service
- Working with business owners on making the town centre more visually attractive and removing red tape to make things happen.
Mayor Ros Jones said these actions along with increased daily cleansing of the town centre, underlined the joint action all partners were signed up to make the town centre a better environment for all.
“We have listened to what residents, visitors and businesses have told us and are acting upon it with concerted action and effort. We have been working with local businesses for over a year now to tackle these issues with some success. However, it is clear that these complex issues will not be resolved easily so we must go further to tackle the issues head on by working together. All public services are under financial pressure and we have to work together to solve shared challenges. This arrangement is an example of that. I believe this joint approach with everyone who has pride in our town centre will achieve real results and we will continue to work hard to make this happen,” she said.
Jackie Bailey, chair of Doncaster Town Centre Business Forum, said: “We are encouraged by the proposed robust joint action plan and proposed collaboration between the council, police and town centre businesses following a meeting with the Doncaster Town Centre Business Forum. We, as businesses, have been working with the council and police for 18 months with some success and although the process had stopped moving forward, we believe this agreement will ensure a closer working relationship and continued improvements resulting in a cleaner, safer more vibrant town centre ultimately leading to increased footfall so desperately needed by town centre businesses. We as a forum are committed to continued engagement with the council and police to ensure these proposals achieve short and long term results.”
Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “I welcome this initiative. It demonstrates how police and the local authority can respond very positively and speedily together to meet the concerns of residents and businesses. I hope it leads to a substantial reduction in the kind of drug-fuelled behaviour that is blighting so many of our urban centres, not just in Doncaster or South Yorkshire, but across the country.
“We will never arrest our way out of these problems. We also need to prevent people becoming addicted in the first place – which is why I also fund groups that work to get people off drugs.”
Chief Inspector Jayne Forrest, Doncaster Neighbourhoods, said: “Together with partners we are responding to the recent spike in the town centre around these issues and are finalising an enhanced patrol plan. I am committed to making Doncaster town centre a pleasant place to live, work and study and through collective efforts I know we can all make a difference.”
- Category: Crime, anti-social behaviour & nuisance