Lack of police presence blamed for 'rioting' teens
PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 June 2018
Drug dealers and shoplifters have the 'free run' of Weston town centre due to a lack of policing, says a North Somerset councillor.
Cllr Mark Canniford says not enough police and PCSOs is causing a spike in antisocial behaviour and crime in the town.
He believes a more visible police presence is needed to reduce incidents and keep people safe.
Cllr Canniford said: “Weston town centre has the free run of drug addicts and dealers, shoplifters and troublemakers.
“Teenagers are running riot including assault, setting fires and shoplifting.
“Aggressive begging is everywhere and where are the police – nowhere.
“How long do we have to put up with this – things will get worse.”
Earlier this year a report found Weston is in the top 10 police wards in Avon and Somerset for hate crimes.
Recent figures also show the Avon and Somerset force area had the 10th highest number of reported shoplifting incidents out of the 42 constabularies in England and Wales – despite a 12 per cent decline on last year’s figure.
However, the force’s Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens has pledged to ‘protect’ neighbourhood policing in this year’s budget to ensure communities ‘are and feel safe’.
Ms Mountstevens added: “Everyone has the right to live in a community free from antisocial behaviour, where they are safe and feel safe.
“Antisocial behaviour in whatever form it takes place, whether that is street drinking or drug dealing, hurts people in their daily lives.
“I also know how important neighbourhood policing teams are to their local communities.
“I also know residents would like more police on their streets and I have already made the commitment to protect neighbourhood policing funding in this year’s budget.
“Police officers and PCSOs can utilise a number of different powers and working closely with North Somerset Council and our partners, we are working hard to tackle local community concerns.
“Most important of all, our local residents are the eyes and ears of our communities and we need them to continue telling us if antisocial behaviour is happening.”