New plan to tackle antisocial behaviour in Barnstaple town centre

North Devon Gazette

A partnership that includes North Devon Council is working together to tackle antisocial behaviour (ASB) in Barnstaple town centre.Â

Officers from North Devon Council and Devon and Cornwall Police's local policing team met in Barnstaple town centre on Monday (December 6) to visit locations that are regularly the site of reports of ASB and crime.Â

The purpose of the walkaround was to discuss the way forward for the partnership in combatting the negative behaviours that led to a renewed and revised Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) being put in place in January.Â

The partnership - which also includes Barnstaple Town Centre Management (BTCM), the North Devon and Torridge Community Safety Partnership and Barnstaple's CCTV control room - is aiming to reduce incidents of antisocial behaviour including street drinking, drug use, aggressive begging, and urinating and defecating in public. Â

Some of the activity that is being taken to combat antisocial behaviour is:Â

  • regular council and police officer patrols of areas identified as having a problem with antisocial behaviourÂ
  • Accredited Officers (including Civil Enforcement Officers, whose role it is to deal with car parking in the district) enforcing the PSPO by issuing culprits with Fixed Penalty Notices of up to £100Â
  • support for rough sleepers from the council's Homeless Outreach team, ensuring that anyone who is sleeping rough or leading a street-based lifestyle understands the help available to themÂ
  • visits to businesses in the Barnstaple town centre to discuss any issues impacting on their business and looking at ways of supporting them. This includes Barnstaple Shopnet's radio scheme, which aims to empower Barnstaple businesses and retailers to effectively communicate issues such as crime and antisocial behaviourÂ
  • pilot of the Streetsafe online tool; a way for anyone to anonymously tell the police about public places where they have felt or feel unsafe, because of environmental issues (e.g. street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism) and/or because of some behaviours (e.g. being followed or verbally abused)Â

The partnership has stepped up activity in the town centre in the lead-up to Christmas, which sees an increase in antisocial behaviour in the town centre. This is largely attributed to an increase in alcohol consumption over the festive season. The partnership says it is timely to remind residents of the terms of the PSPO (also applies to Ilfracombe town centre), which includes an alcohol-specific condition, giving council or police officers grounds to require a person not to consume alcohol in the designated area, and surrender their alcohol if asked.Â

Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, Hannah Harrington says: "Antisocial behaviour can have a really damaging impact on people's enjoyment of the town centre - not to mention their lives. Working with other agencies like the police in order to tackle behaviours such as substance abuse, aggressive begging and causing others to feel harassed, is essential. We are working hard to reduce ASB in the town centre and will continue to support businesses to help them do the same. By taking a partnership approach, we aim to improve the quality of life and experience for all residents, businesses and visitors to Barnstaple town centre."Â

Devon and Cornwall Police Sector Inspector for Barnstaple, Andy Wills says: "Unfortunately, substance misuse is the driver for much of the street-based antisocial behaviour, crime, and begging we see on our streets. With Christmas approaching, we anticipate an increase in alcohol consumption, and with it, a rise in ASB and crime.Â

"Whilst crime can be seen as being both the symptom and the disease, it is key that we take a multi-agency approach that considers the needs of the community to identify and tackle the social, health, economic, and behavioural issues which lead to a person committing an offence. It is also important to ensure we target our resources effectively to deliver both sanction and remedy where appropriate.Â

"We are carrying out regular patrols in Barnstaple town centre, however we also ask the community - who are the eyes and ears of policing - to be vigilant and help us. People can report information or community intelligence about offenders or offences, anonymously if required, through the force website. It might be the last piece of the puzzle we need to take action."Â

More information on the antisocial behaviour PSPO in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe can be found on the council's website at www.northdevon.gov.uk/community-safety-and-emergencies/anti-social-behaviour. Full details on all PSPOs in place across the district is available at www.northdevon.gov.uk/business/north-devon-legal-services/public-space-protection-orders-pspos

Non-urgent matters can be reported to the police via email, through webchat, or through the 101 telephone service if necessary. Live wait time for 101 calls can be viewed by visiting www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/contact.

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