Crackdown on anti-social behaviour

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RESDIENTS of a neighbourhood blighted by anti-social behaviour are welcoming news of a crackdown on offenders.

Locals from Sanderson’s Croft in Leigh had complained of feeling intimidated by large numbers of youths congregating in their local park and street and using threatening behaviour.

Acting in response to these complaints, the Leigh Area Managers Group has launched a campaign designed to address issues of anti-social behaviour in Sanderson’s Croft and the Dootsons Park area of Leigh.

The group, which is made up of representatives from Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Council, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and other partners, works with the community to address issues of local concern, including crime and anti-social behaviour.

The planned joint action will involve police officers and police community support officers patrolling areas of particular concern on Friday and Saturday evenings, confiscating alcohol from underage drinkers and issuing contact cards to those who are persistently causing anti-social behaviour.

Council and Leisure Trust officers experienced in the area of youth mediation, restorative justice and early intervention will be working with the police on Dootsons Park every weekend up to the end of December, laying on a range of recreational activities and advising young people about health and personal safety issues. Planned activities include the popular Friday evening X-Zones featuring a climbing wall, art projects and the media bus as well as sport, dance and drama provided by the Leisure Trust.

The campaign follows previous success in reducing anti-social behaviour in the area. On the evening of Friday 14th September, PCSOs issued 19 contact cards to young people at Dootsons Park for possession of alcohol. If the bad behaviour continues and the young person gets more cards, it’s time for further action, for instance, getting the young person to sign-up to an Acceptable Behaviour Contract.

“Those young people who were issued with contact cards are the responsibility of a parent and guardian,” says Andrew Sharrock, Operational Partnership & Locality Development Manager. “Adults who shoulder this responsibility need to be asking themselves where their children are, what they are doing and whether they are safe. If their child smells of alcohol or is getting into trouble, they need to be asking what they should be doing to intervene. It’s about protecting the child and showing consideration to the wider community.”

He continues:

“We recognise the concerns of local people and we are committed to acting on them. Being a victim of anti-social behaviour can leave people feeling angry, vulnerable and frustrated. Partners are dedicated to working with residents to identify whose young people whose behaviour is unacceptable.

“It’s important that the council and its partners strike the right balance when dealing with youth-related anti-social behaviour. We believe in dealing robustly with perpetrators whilst creating positive opportunities for young people by identifying problems early and taking the appropriate action.

“We cannot allow the bad behaviour of a very small minority to tarnish the image of all young people. It’s too easy to think that young people are the cause of anti-social behaviour, but the truth is 70 per cent of anti-social behaviour in our borough is caused by adults.

“We recognise that there are a small number of young people whose behaviour is just not acceptable. But we have had some real successes. The key is to work with the whole community by promoting greater tolerance, respect and understanding, and offering young people opportunities to get involved in their communities, learn new skills and build their confidence.”

Anti-social behaviour in Leigh has fallen over the past three years, and is down by 16 per cent since January this year.

As part of this ongoing drive to tackle youth-related ASB, the Safe4Autumn campaign will be returning soon. Recognised in Wigan Borough as Operation Treacle, safe4autumn is a Greater Manchester-wide campaign led on by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service with the full support of Greater Manchester Police and all local authorities and partnership agencies.