Anti-social behaviour complaints plummet in south-west Ipswich
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A drop in reports of anti-social behaviour in south-west Ipswich has been put down to a greater police focus on tackling the problem.
Latest statistics from Suffolk Constabulary show that complaints of disruptive activity in the area, such as street drinking, littering, noise nuisance and vandalism, is at its lowest level since 2014.
Sergeant Joe Askham, from the Ipswich South West Safer Neighbourhood Team, said officers ran a six-month operation from April last year to crack down on anti-social behaviour after concerns were raised in the community.
Sgt Askham said the vast majority of people who commit these crimes in south-west Ipswich were young people and council house tenants and police work closely with Ipswich Borough Council to combat the problem.
If the offender is a child then they are often referred to Suffolk Youth Offending Service, which will work to address any issues that the child is having that may be causing them to act out.
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The young person could then be put on a three-month scheme called Challenge For Change, which is designed to prevent them from re-offending.
“We have had really good successes with people going in that scheme,” Sgt Askham added. “Where they do re-offend we can up it a level and look at anti-social behaviour powers and issue them with a community protection notice, which is like the old ASBO [anti-social behaviour order].”
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A community protection notice comes with a set of conditions telling that person what they can and cannot do. If they break these conditions they risk going to court and being sentenced.
“That’s quite rare, particularly for young people as they tend to learn quite quickly,” Sgt Askham said.
“The adults we deal with tend to suffer from drug abuse or substance misuse and it is much more difficult. So when they are put before court they could be sentenced with a drug rehab order.”
When a council house tenant, their family members, or visitors, is accused of a low level crime they will be given a ‘notice seeking possession’ by the council - this is a warning to say they have breached the terms of their tenancy agreement.
Sgt Askham said one area of the south-west which had suffered from anti-social behaviour was Station Street.
Last summer, the police received daily reports of a group of youths racially abusing people, damaging play equipment and playing football on the street and kicking balls at cars. The safer neighborhood team focussed on this area of the town during its operation, called Operation Basement, and referred a number of youngsters onto the Challenge For Change scheme.
“The overriding message is if it is reported then we can deal with it,” Sgt Askham added.
“We would like to know as early as possible because these things do escalate.
“If someone is causing damage to play equipment it could escalate to them setting fire to it, and that’s what we need to avoid.”
In December 2015, 73 incidents of anti-social behaviour were reported to Suffolk Constabulary.
At the start of that year, the figure stood at 107 and steadily rose over the following months.
The number was at its highest in June that year with 145 complaints.