Cameras to be used to curb troublemakers
POLICE may use hand-held video cameras to film youngsters causing trouble in Felixstowe – and show their parents the footage.Officers will obtain the film not by secret surveillance of the youths, but by openly filming them with palm digital cameras.
By Richard Cornwell
POLICE may use hand-held video cameras to film youngsters causing trouble in Felixstowe – and show their parents the footage.
Officers will obtain the film not by secret surveillance of the youths, but by openly filming them with palm digital cameras.
It is part of a series of initiatives to deal with young people whose gatherings and behaviour have been worrying residents this summer on the seafront, but also in villages and on estates.
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Felixstowe police commander Inspector Andy Bushell said: "We will not be filming them when they are causing damage or committing criminal offences, but more probably on those occasions when they are just causing nuisance.
"Letters will be sent to parents via the nuisance register scheme and we will be asking them whether they would like to come in and see the video film.
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"It may help the parents understand what their child has been up to and see how their actions can cause offence and disturbance to other people."
Warning letters have already been sent to parents of a number of youngsters this summer in Felixstowe and in Trimley, with some youths placed on the register.
Officers have been delighted that in many of the cases a warning letter was enough and parents appear to have taken action to curb their children's behaviour and talk to them about their activities.
Insp Bushell said the cameras would also be used in other circumstances, including as part of the new Nightsafe campaign to crackdown on alcohol-fuelled trouble – drunkenness, disorder and damage – on the seafront.
Officers may use the cameras to film gangs gathering at various trouble hotspots after the pubs and nightclubs empty to collect evidence and intelligence.
"It is preventative as well because people do incline to behave when they know they are being filmed," added Insp Bushell.
The Nightsafe campaign has the support of all licensees on the seafront and features a number of initiatives.
People who are arrested for drink-related incidents are being banned from all premises for periods depending on their misdemeanour, details and photos of drug pushers are being distributed to clubs and pubs, and a radio link system has been set up to enable landlords to report incidents and pass on information.
In addition, patrols have been stepped up and the Suffolk police helicopter is paying regular weekend night-time visits to make sweeps across the seafront.