Thurrock: Working with parents to prevent anti-social behaviour
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Anti-social behaviour in Grays town centre was ‘here or there’ before the pandemic started and now coronavirus regulations are being lifted, our Town Centre Team it renewing contacts to ensure it remains low.
Since non-essential shops re-opened, there have been issues with young people who visit the town after school. The town centre is a focal point because the train draws in people from nearby towns and Lakeside shopping centre and retail park is close.
PC Stuart Mackinnon says: “In the past couple of months, we’ve had reports of young people throwing eggs at shops and being generally disruptive, running through shops and throwing things around. They are not causing crime as such but are just being a general nuisance.
“With daily patrols around town we are rebuilding links with shopkeepers and asking them to share their CCTV with us. We’ve also got to know many of the young people so we are putting their names to the faces on the cameras.
“We work closely with Thurrock Council teams who stop them as well and British Transport Police, who stopped a group at the railway station recently when they were throwing stones at the trains.
“Now I have sent letters to the parents of the young people involved to let them know their kids were involved in anti-social behaviour. Hopefully that will stop it but, if any of them keep doing it, it’ll be taken a bit further. It will be verging on criminal offences at this point, so we’ll have to act on that.
“But we’re trying to stop it before it gets that far and to get the parents involved in their community rather than criminalising their kids.
“Most of them are between 11 and 14 so they are really young and are just acting like teenagers, not thinking things through properly. They just need a bit of a reality check so, hopefully, with a bit of engagement from us, we’ll get that turned round.”
Although Grays does not have a town traders’ association, regular contact with officers from our town centre team and the council means that issues are now better reported and we can deal with them.
Stuart says: “Things are getting better and the issues that were happening are a lot less than they were, even a couple of months ago.
“During Lockdown, everything disappeared. Before that, it was here or there but a new group of kids grew up and now they have taken on the mantle of the nuisances in the town and we are trying to clamp down on it.
“They can enjoy themselves but we want them to behave themselves as well. Some of them have forgotten how to behave because they’ve been locked up in the house for so long they are not really sure what their behaviour should be now.
“So, we’ll try to help them.”
Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Rob Gledhill, says: “We know that anti-social behaviour is a cause of real concern for many of our residents and that is why we are committed to working closely with Essex Police to ensure that those who commit these offences are stopped in their tracks and the punishment they receive serves as a warning to others.
“There are now five town centre police teams in the borough, based in Grays, Stanford-le-Hope and South Ockendon, with four officers funded by £1million from Thurrock Council to create additional teams in Tilbury and Purfleet-on-Thames.
“These officers provide reassurance to residents and have achieved some tremendous results in apprehending and tackling crime and anti-social behaviour.
“Recently we have received an additional £540,000 funding from the government and the Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner to make Grays town centre safer by providing CCTV cameras, improved street lighting and increasing the capacity of our enforcement teams.
“We have made innovative use of public space protection orders to tackle anti-social behaviour in Grays town centre and prevent unauthorised car meets in West Thurrock.
“Thurrock Council is committed to putting a stop to anti-social behaviour because everyone deserves to feel safe where they live and within their community.”
If you’ve been a victim of anti-social behaviour, or any crime, and are feeling mentally impacted by it, contact Victim Support on 0808 1689 111.
Anti-social behaviour is not just nuisance behaviour, it can severely impact on victims and make their lives a misery.
With summer holidays now starting and the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, more people will be out and about and enjoying our towns, countryside and coastal areas.
This also brings the risk of increased anti-social behaviour. While some of this will be down to people deliberately causing problems, there may be others who are unaware their behaviour is seen as intimidating or disruptive.
We are focused on dealing with anti-social behaviour, supporting victims and dealing with those responsible.
We can deal with it in a number of ways – such as dispersal orders or closure orders for properties – and we work closely with local councils and other partner agencies to find additional solutions.