David Sidwick's blog - how my fund will tackle anti-social behaviour
As I approach my 100th day in office, I have real pleasure in seeing that genuine work is now taking place to tackle anti-social behaviour in Dorset.
The last few weeks have seen Dorset Police launch a major operation to clamp down on the issue, while my own office has announced a fund to help community groups who are keen to help people feel safer.
Throughout my three years of campaigning for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, anti-social behaviour was the number one issue that came up on the doorstep, in the postbag and in meetings I attended with residents and groups across the county.
Incidents such as broken windows, graffiti, and rowdy parties may seem ‘low-level’ and trivial when looked at individually, but can be devastating for those people who live with them on a daily basis.
Robust focus on problem
Now, Dorset Police has launched Operation Relentless to provide a robust focus on tackling the problem wherever it raises its ugly head.
The operation is a clear reminder to everyone that the Force takes a tough approach to anti-social behaviour and sends a sharp message that it will not be tolerated here.
Last weekend, I had the honour of joining one of the many high visible patrols that were taking place as part of the operation, and saw for myself how this approach works. The patrol, on a busy night in Bournemouth town centre as crowds gathered to watch the fireworks, was a huge success.
Officers seized alcohol and cannabis from an intoxicated teenager and took her home to her parents, while several dispersal orders were issued for drug related activity. They told me that intervening early on in issues that could have become a problem later led to a very successful and family friendly evening.
Taking issue seriously
This is exactly what I want to see and I’m delighted that these patrols and other initiatives show the Force is taking anti-social behaviour as seriously as many members of the public do.
This week, I’ve also made good on my own promise to help people who have told me they want to do something about anti-social behaviour in their own communities, by launching the Operation Relentless Community Fund.
This is a dedicated fund which is being made available to help community groups and charities take action in their local areas.
I know a lot of small organisations out there have got bright ideas about how they can tackle anti-social behaviour and help make people feel safer in their communities.
So if that sounds like you, and you live in an area that’s been affected, my team wants to hear from you. Applications from £100 up to £5,000 are welcomed, but projects must address anti-social behaviour and have a local focus.
The fund is a way of not only reassuring our communities that we are on their side, but empowering them to help in the fight against anti-social behaviour. Over the coming months and years, I look forward to being able to meet members of these groups and finding out about how their projects are making a difference.
It’s also important to remember that many anti-social behaviour problems are the responsibility of different agencies such as local authorities, with a survey carried out by my office last year revealing a great deal of confusion over who was responsible for what. Work is already beginning on making sure these agencies work closely together to ensure we get the messages out more clearly, but in the meantime I’d encourage everyone to visit Dorset Police’s Ask NED pages for more information.
Your concerns are our concerns
I hope that through Operation Relentless, myself and the Force have given greater confidence to the public that they are being heard, and that their concerns are our concerns.
Tackling anti-social behaviour is key to my Police and Crime Plan, which will be unveiled to the public this autumn and will set out how I aim to make Dorset the safest part of England and Wales.
This county is my home, I have great ambitions for it, and I hope you will come with me on the journey.