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Anti-social behaviour event to tackle 'growing problem' for 45% of businesses

Of 100 surveyed businesses, 41 had experienced anti-social behaviour in the last year  Picture: SIMON PARKER

Of 100 surveyed businesses, 41 had experienced anti-social behaviour in the last year Picture: SIMON PARKER

Almost half of Suffolk businesses perceive anti-social behaviour to be a growing problem, according to an independent survey.

One hundred local businesses were consulted on anti-social behaviour ahead of a conference designed to help tackle the issue.

Almost all (94%) agreed they had a role to play in finding a solution, according to Co-op Secure Response, which commissioned the survey and will host the conference on January 29 with the police, county council and chamber of commerce.

A quarter (26%) felt anti-social behaviour was a ‘big problem’, while 45% called it a ‘growing problem’, experienced by 41% in the last year, but reported by 26%.

Conference speakers include Superintendent Kerry Cutler, Suffolk High Sheriff George Vestey and the council’s Ipswich locality officer, Claire Prosser.

Lee Hammond, of Co-op Secure Response  Picture: ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCYLee Hammond, of Co-op Secure Response Picture: ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCY

Lee Hammond of Co-op Secure Response, an East of England Co-op business providing security services to other firms and communities, said the introduction of a dedicated anti-social behaviour team had built unique relationships with communities, police and councils, resulting in a 72% reduction in reports in one community alone.

“It’s encouraging to hear other local businesses agree they also have a role to play,” he added.

“This conference will provide them with the knowledge, advice and support to help protect not only their only business, but also their wider communities.”

Supt Cutler, said: “We know that anti-social behaviour can blight communities and seriously affect people’s quality of life.

Superintendent Kerry Cutler  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuperintendent Kerry Cutler Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“Left unchallenged it can have a detrimental impact on an individual, a family, a business and the whole community.”

While police have a lead role to play around enforcement, Supt Cutler said the issue can only be successfully tackled with a combined approach to prevent and ‘design out’ the causes.

The conference, she added, would provide a platform to learn more about the issue and how it can be tackled collectively.

Suffolk Chamber chief, John Dugmore said anti-social behaviour cost businesses to clear up, but also had an indirect impact on premiums and footfall.

John Dugmore will address the conference on behalf of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce  Picture: SUFFOLK CHAMBERJohn Dugmore will address the conference on behalf of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Picture: SUFFOLK CHAMBER

He said the conference, at Wherstead Park, would offer practical ‘self-help’ ideas to chamber members and the wider business community. Book a free place here or call 0808 231 8196.

•Through restorative justice, the Co-op Secure Response team reaches out to young people convicted for anti-social behaviour to show the financial and emotional impact of their actions.

With the Youth Offending Service and its partners, the team ran a one-to-one programme, finishing with an opportunity to discuss potential career paths.

In the three months after completion of the scheme, police reported just one of the 15 participants re-offended.

Scott Walker, Co-op Secure Response anti-social behaviour officer  Picture: ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCYScott Walker, Co-op Secure Response anti-social behaviour officer Picture: ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCY

The Co-op has provided two young people with job opportunities in stores, while Co-op Secure Response works with the prison service to offer skills and aid community resettlement.

Anti-social behaviour officer Scott Walker called restorative justice the most effective way to reduce offences, adding: “It is very rewarding to work on a programme that provides value to the participants, as well as to communities which benefit from a lower level of anti-social behaviour.”

•Co-op Secure Response and Suffolk police organised a series of football matches with Chantry Academy students last summer to engage with young people and show the approachable side of people in uniform.

Forty students were invited to participate over six weeks, including 20 already taking part in community activities, such as the police cadets.

Sergeant Stuart Curtis, Pcso Craig Gibbs, Pc Phillip Lee and anti-social behaviour officer Scott Walker  Picture: ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCYSergeant Stuart Curtis, Pcso Craig Gibbs, Pc Phillip Lee and anti-social behaviour officer Scott Walker Picture: ANGLIA PICTURE AGENCY

Pcso Craig Gibbs said the six matches provided a fun way to unite young people from different backgrounds, adding: “It allowed us to break down barriers and open up a dialogue, while also helping us keep anti-social behaviour to a minimum in Chantry during the holidays.

“The young people involved in this initiative now actively come and speak to me on the street and chat about any problems they are having.

“They have all grabbed this opportunity with both hands and made friends in the process. It’s amazing what can be achieved with a game of football and just taking the time to listen.”

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