Team effort to keep town streets safe

PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 January 2013

street wardens Adrian  Ley, Dan Berkeley and Bob Sprigg.

street wardens Adrian Ley, Dan Berkeley and Bob Sprigg.

Archant

FROM smoke bombs to nudists, and injured seagulls to rowdy teenagers, life is rarely dull for those trying to keep Weston’s town centre safe.

Since the street wardens first strode into the resort last year they have been working alongside the police to tackle crime and a wide range of other issues.

The wardens, recruited after Weston’s businesses voted to pay towards a Business Improvement District (BID) last year, have become a common sight on the streets in their high-visibility jackets.

But what exactly do the seven members of their team do on a day-to-day basis?

Although they have a general brief of improving security and helping to report crimes, it can vary hugely on a daily basis.

Indeed, as warden Adrian Ley said: “We deal with everything.

“That’s the best thing about the job – you don’t know what you’ll be doing each day.”

The five security wardens have dealt with problems as varied as begging, antisocial behaviour, shoplifting and other issues centred around stores in the town centre and general day-to-day queries by members of the public and tourists.

But they have also had to deal with things as unusual as nudists on both the town beach and in the town centre itself, helping homeless people in the cold and even looking after an injured seagull.

The other two members of the team are dedicated to keeping the town centre clean by jet-washing and removing graffiti, fly-tipping and other detritus which gathers.

The team say their efforts, combined with the police and North Somerset Council’s CCTV team, have paid off as shoplifting is down across the town centre, and by as much as 52 per cent in Superdrug.

Gail Parsons, whose Vanguard Surveillance and Security company employs the wardens, said: “If you look at the overall effects on the town centre, I would say antisocial behaviour is down and drinking on the street and in public is also down.”

Members of the team agree, saying that since the wardens were introduced drinking in Grove Park has dwindled to become almost non-existent.

Key to the work being done by the wardens is communication with Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s town centre police team.

In recent weeks it has dealt with smoke bombs being let off in the Italian Gardens, and abuse being levelled at security staff working in the Sovereign Shopping Centre, with three youths being arrested on antisocial behaviour charges.

With the town centre beat area stretching as far as Whitecross Road, the Shrubberies and Ashcombe, members of the team are not always on the scene to find out about issues. But now they can be informed about trouble by the wardens and shop staff in the town centre using the radio link system.

One of the beat officers, PC Sam Walton, said: “We’ve had an increase in the detection rate for crimes since the wardens came in. Crime is actually down and I think that’s because there’s more of a visible presence and therefore more of a deterrent.”

Although the new system has yet to be tested in the busy tourist season, it is clear the extra resources being put into the town centre are beginning to reap dividends, and helping to improve the area for all who use it and live in it.


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