There will be an update from the local policing team and residents will have the opportunity to raise any issues in the ward
Sgt Lowery and PCSO Smith acknowledged that there had been incidents of worsening anti-social behaviour in the area and that in recent months they had received 82 calls (18 of which related to the sports club). In addition, their patrol had attended on 193 occasions during the summer. They also confirmed that although they were trying to maintain a visible police presence this could not always be guaranteed due to limited resources. They referred to ‘Operation Liberate’ which aimed to reinforce local policing and reduce anti-social behaviour.
At this point, several residents voiced concerns at the underreporting of incidents, the difficulty getting through to staff on 101 and the lack of police presence in the area. Additional costs had been incurred as a result of installing CCTV at the sports club in an attempt to protect staff and provide evidence of anti-social behaviour. Sgt Lowery replied that North Yorkshire Police were unable to build a clear picture or effectively target resources unless each incident was reported (either by telephone or e-mail). She also stated that only two PCSO’s were available to provide cover for the Derwent & Osbaldwick Ward.
The residents went on to describe some of the recent incidents which included verbal abuse and intimidation by large gangs of young people as well as criminal damage to the sports club. Sgt Lowery confirmed that an arrest had been made and discussed the procedure for dealing with young people who demonstrated anti-social behaviour which involved contacting their parents by letter, visiting them at home and, if appropriate, putting in place an ‘Acceptable Behaviour Contract’. She went to on to explain that school visits were also an important part of their role.
Councillor Warters disputed the fact that simply driving a police van in the area constituted a visible police presence. He also asked whether the Neighbourhood Team would consider accepting a sports club key (or having access to a high security key safe), this is to use the club as a rest stop when patrolling, this was previously agreed five years ago.Sgt Lowery said she would look into the possibility of this.
Councillor Warters then asked for a commitment to have regular foot patrols in the area and for senior police staff to attend future ward meetings on a regular basis.
Councillor Rowley queried whether PCSO’s were responsive to incidents or whether they had a particular beat. Sgt Lowery stated that both were applicable as PCSO’s were equally responsible for responding to incidents in other areas whilst also covering their own dedicated area.
Councillor Rowley commented on a recent (positive) meeting with Inspector Lee Pointon who noted the frustrations with the 101 system and confirmed that every Parish Council should expect a minimum of three visits per year from the Neighbourhood Team. Councillor Rowley then asked for this to be fully implemented. Sgt Lowery assured him that she would make every effort to facilitate this.
Councillor Rowley also asked whether the PCSO’s interacted with local businesses and was assured by PCSO Smith that community engagement with individuals as well as local businesses was a very important part of their role and that they carried out regular bike patrols in the area.
On a more positive note, there was an acknowledgement that policing was very difficult and challenging particularly with limited resources. Following a recent episode of vandalism of church property in Osbaldwick, the Parish Council had been happy with the way the situation had been handled.
A resident asked when they should ring 999 instead of 101. Sgt Lowery said that everyone should make their own judgement but as a rule, they should only ring 999 in cases of perceived danger to life or property.
Another resident wanted to know why PCSO’s couldn’t be more visible between 18:00 – 21:00 when the trouble was worse. Sgt Lowery said she would try to ensure patrols were carried out during these times.
Another issue raised was whether monthly crime reports were provided. Sgt Lowery replied that although this was not normal procedure she would look into it further.
Finally, a resident enquired as to whether an incident was classified as a single event even though numerous calls had been made. Sgt Lowery confirmed that it would only be recorded as one incident.