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Let’s keep ASB at bay this summer

The school summer holidays are almost upon us and our residents and visitors will soon be enjoying everything Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have to offer.

Let’s keep ASB at bay this summer

Partners gather in Torquay’s Castle Circus ahead of a Street Focus walkabout session on Saturday

For some of our coastal communities the strain seen in the summer months has made life much less pleasant for people who call our corner of England home. This was a particular problem during the Covid-19 pandemic when people were less respectful than they should have been.

A small minority of people lit fires at beauty spots, urinated in public because toilets were closed and caused a general nuisance.

I was able to help by working with partners like the Dartmoor National Park Authority to fund Covid marshals. The marshals were skilled at de-escalating situations and provided a uniformed presence and advice for people to ensure people could have safe and enjoyable visits.

Investing in partnerships like this is the key to tackling the issues that matter most to people. And employing local people for local solutions is the best way to deliver these.

We have put in place a similar arrangement with additional money for hotspot policing we received from the Home Office. In several locations a uniformed presence provided by registered security marshals is really making a difference.

Partnerships with local authorities are really important too. On Wednesday my community engagement team will be joining Andy Stewart, the beach ranger employed by a parish council to reduce the impact of antisocial behaviour in Polzeath, one of Cornwall’s Holiday hotspots. With its miles of golden sands and hidden coves it is no wonder that each year thousands of families are drawn to this picturesque resort, and their teenagers behave as teenagers often do.

While most behave well, there have been some occasions when beach parties have become out of control and police have had to get involved. Beer cans, bottles and fires have been left for locals to clear up and there have been concerns about the safety of young people at night in a coastal area.

The tough but fair approach delivered by Andy and neighbourhood policing teams has netted real results for Polzeath, and gained a lot of attention from other tourist destinations.

In Torquay the Street Focus project is bringing together public sector partners, police and others to combat antisocial behaviour and drug dealing. I walked the streets with neighbourhood officers, councillors and Torbay’s new MP on Saturday to chat to traders for their views on the scheme.

It has already made an impact, but, as with many other city and town centres in the force area, much work remains to be done.  

Antisocial behaviour is the top issue residents of the force area want addressing. It can blight lives for years or even decades, and if left unchecked can escalate to a point where the most serious of crimes are committed.

Our new Home Secretary says she wants to prioritise reducing antisocial behaviour and violent crime. I will be working to ensure that the Government gives it the attention it deserves, and appropriate funding for Devon & Cornwall Police so we can maintain record police officer numbers.

If you witness ASB and it’s happening right now, report to Devon & Cornwall Police by calling 999 in the case of an emergency, 101 or by visiting the online reporting form.

The Charity ASB Help offers practical help and support.

If you or others have reported three incidents or more in a six-month period you may be eligible to seek an ASB Case Review. Details of how to do this can be found on my office’s website.