Police launch town centre safety campaign

Joseph Bulmer

Dispersal powers will keep anti-social behaviour off the streets

Barnstaple Police are launching a community safety initiative to ensure that visitors to the town have an enjoyable time during the summer and in the run-up to Christmas.

Operation Assure is an ongoing initiative designed to continue to drive down alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour in the town centre.

Police sought and were granted the power to disperse two or more people acting anti-socially in the town centre area, Seven Brethren and parts of Rock Park under Section 30 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

This power runs from 6am on Tuesday, July 5 and lapses at 6am Wednesday, January 4, 2012. It covers the summer months, Barnstaple Fair and the Christmas festivities and further complements other measures and initiatives introduced to ensure law and order.

If not complied with the power results in arrest and has been used extremely effectively in previous years. Sergeant Paul Jones, Neighbourhood Team Leader for the Barnstaple town centre said: “We sincerely wish to see the community enjoying the facilities that Barnstaple town centre provides and are committed to ensuring that the small minority of individuals who engage in disorderly behaviour are dealt with promptly and effectively. The new power complements this perfectly.”

Operation Assure is designed to build on the success of previous years with officers again using their powers of dispersing problem individuals under existing dispersal powers and section 30 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.

The campaign is fully backed by the Barnstaple Town Centre Management and officers will be greatly assisted by the towns CCTV control room operators who will monitor anyone seen to be acting in a disorderly manner.

Sgt Jones added: “Operation Assure was introduced in order to reassure members of the public using the town centre. It co-ordinates resources and ensures we have the right officers in the right place at the right time in order to keep levels of crime and anti-social behaviour at a low level.”

Town centre beat officers have been working to advise licensees and business owners about their responsibilities to help further improve safety in the town, and are pleased to report that confidence in local Police to deliver on “Operation Assure” remains very high.

The centre of Barnstaple remains an alcohol exclusion zone and pe0ple are reminded that it is an offence to consume alcohol on the street within that area.

Barnstaple currently has low levels of violent crime, and local Police have adopted a robust approach in ensuring that these figures are further decreased.

Amanda Palmer of Safer North Devon said: “Police and councils work with other partner agencies as Safer North Devon to ensure North Devon remains a great place to live. We are determined that Operation Assure and the newly granted section 30 power will play an integral part in continuing to combat anti-social behaviour in the area.”