Neighbourhood policing teams (NPTs) in Weymouth and Dorchester will be working with partners from Weymouth & Portland and West Dorset District Councils, along with business owners and residents, to reduce anti-social behaviour (ASB) at hotspot locations.
NPTs from both towns have seen an increase in nuisance ASB committed by young people gathered in large groups, especially during the longer evenings of the summer months.
The new scheme will see focused NPT patrols in highlighted problem areas, who will record the details of any young people who are engaging in anti-social behaviour. They will then either escort the individual home or contact their parents or guardians, so they can collect them.
The details the NPT officers collect will be passed to ASB caseworkers, who will send a written communication to the parents or guardians of the individual, informing them of the behaviour and potential consequences. These letters will form part of a tiered approach. If a young person receives three warning letters within six months, a meeting will be triggered to look at further tools to deal with the behaviour, for example Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs).
Councillor Alan Thacker, West Dorset District Council Portfolio holder for Community Safety and Access, said: “This is one of the many initiatives the district council is involved in to reduce anti-social behaviour. We’ll be working with parents to make children aware of their behaviour and the potential consequences.”
Dorchester Neighbourhood Inspector Mike Darby, added: “ASB threatens our communities in so many ways and Dorset Police is firmly committed to a no-nonsense approach to eradicating it. This initiative will help us to achieve that aim.
“It will also encourage parents to fully appreciate the potential safety implications of groups of young people congregating in unsupervised areas, late at night, without their parent or carer knowing where they are.”
Recently reported ASB has included shouting and swearing in the street, throwing and leaving litter in public places and underage drinking.
Councillor Francis Drake, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s brief holder for community safety, said: “Reducing anti-social behaviour and making areas such as the town centre and beach front a safer place has been a key priority for the council for some time.
“We want everyone to take pride in the borough and that includes behaving in the right way.”
As part of the initiative, the Force is also reaching out to local organisations and groups in the area, who can offer activities to young people.
Weymouth & Portland Neighbourhood Inspector Pete Browning commented: “Dorset Police are aware of the recent changes to youth services. We want to reassure young people that there are ways to spend their evenings that do not put themselves in situations which could land them in trouble with the police.
“If you are part of, or are aware of, any local groups who have the facilities to provide activities for local children and young people, then please get in touch. You can contact your NPT officers via the Dorset Police website.
“We completely appreciate that the majority of young people in the area do not cause any issues and make their own valuable contributions to the community.
“By identifying the minority of individuals who do cause anti-social behaviour, we can put appropriate measures in place to prevent them from ruining our communities for the majority.”