Reports of antisocial behaviour rise in Weston
- Credit: Archant
Officers have reported a sharp increase in antisocial behaviour in Weston town centre over the past year.
Cuts to youth services have been blamed for a 26 per cent rise in incidents of antisocial behaviour in the town centre since November 2017.
Police statistics show a 51 per cent rise in reports of antisocial behaviour during the same period.
A total of 169 cases were reported across the whole of Weston, with dog fouling and vandalism emerging as the most prevalent complaints faced by people in the area.
Councillor Mike Bell, who represents Weston’s Central ward, says North Somerset Council’s decision to ‘axe youth services, jobs and community support’ is partly responsible for the spike.
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Last year, the council introduced Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) with the hope of deterring antisocial behaviour in public places.
The rollout of PSPOs meant antisocial behaviour offences could be punished with a spot fine of up to £75.
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However, a recent report from North Somerset Council found that only 16 fines had been issued in Weston over the previous 10 months.
A lack of council officers on the streets has been blamed for the failure to enforce the PSPOs.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary say the significant rise in reports may not necessarily translate into incidents of antisocial behaviour, as more than one person could in theory be calling to report the same crime.
Sergeant Lee Kerslake said: “We have taken positive action to put people involved in antisocial behaviour before the courts as well as putting Criminal Behaviour Orders in place, which prohibit offenders from entering areas.”
In response, a council spokesman said: “We see the rise as a positive reflection on the huge efforts the police and other agencies have made to get people to report antisocial behaviour.”
A second community response officer was recruited shortly before Christmas.
It is hoped their appointment will help tackle antisocial behaviour in the town.
Cllr Bell added: “The issue with the PSPO is that it relies on enforcement to be effective.
“The impact is relatively low and more work does need to be done.
“The steady reductions in activities to divert people away from antisocial behaviour hasn’t helped.
“These are not conditions that help to keep people off the streets.”