New tactic to tackle yobs

Hub initiative will see North Devon and Torridge’s organisations working together to tackle the ‘modern plague’.

THE anti-social behaviour blight that makes life a misery for thousands of people in North Devon every year is being tackled with a pioneering new approach.

This week, Safer North Devon unveiled the Hub, a commonsense initiative for dealing with problems that plague individuals and communities where local police, fire service, councils, housing associations and other agencies work together.

Instead of a ‘piecemeal’ approach, they now join forces for daily tasking meetings to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) reports across North Devon and Torridge as they arise, in what is being hailed as the first approach of its kind in Devon.

Cases are often complex and need more than one organisation working on them, so the aim of the Hub is to make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction.


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The scale of the problem is clear: Between 2009-2011 a total of 17,796 ASB complaints were received across the two districts, with 6,100 of those for “rowdy, nuisance or inconsiderate behaviour”.

North Devon Council received 5,210 calls relating to environmental crime such as waste dumping.

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From harassment and dog fouling, to noise, graffiti or illegal fly tipping, anti-social behaviour can have a terrible effect on its victims, who often don’t know where to turn or become frustrated at an apparent lack of action from the authorities.

In extreme cases this can lead to tragedy and the creation of the Hub, with better ways of pooling resources or information, was directly prompted by the example of Leicestershire mum Fiona Pilkington, who in 2007 killed herself and her mentally ill daughter after 10 years of suffering anti social behaviour.

The initiative has been in place since January and its architects say duplication of effort has been reduced, co-ordination between agencies improved, with a faster and more efficient response, saving money without compromising on service.

“Dealing with ASB locally is one of our partnership’s biggest challenges and one we are committed to resolving,” said Amanda Palmer, community safety manager at SND.

“The effect it has is far reaching, impacting on peoples’ physical or mental health and general well being – and for some it can make life a misery.

“We know that people don’t care who they report it to, as long as somebody responds and the issue is tackled.”

Superintendant John Vellacott, who is expected to take over shortly as area commander for North and West Devon, said communities told police that tackling ASB was a priority for them.

“Through the SND Hub we can ensure the appropriate agencies work together to address ASB from the outset,” he said.

“Already we have seen the Hub identify innovative changes to existing services and systems to improve outcomes and reduce the impact of ASB for our residents.”

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