Op Community: Tackling anti-social behaviour in Grays town centre
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Officers from the Grays Town Centre Team have been praised for their work in combatting anti-social behaviour.
Groups of youths began to use Burger King on the High Street as a hang out, rarely buying any food and behaving anti-socially, and sometimes violently, both inside and outside the restaurant.
Their behaviour created an intimidating environment for shoppers and made Burger King a no-go area once schools and colleges had finished for the day.
Burger King shift manager Ewelina said: “They (the youths) were treating it like their living room. They were making a mess and it was distressing for us and our customers. Our sales were down because people were afraid to come in here.
“Now, when the police have been around, it’s much better, and quieter, than before. We are seeing more patrols on the High Street, they are checking people and if they see that something is wrong, they come in.”
Acting Sergeant Tom Butler said: “The behaviour in and around Burger King was having a detrimental effect on the business itself and on the people who were using the High Street.
“We set up an operation to prevent and deter the anti-social and violent behaviour and in the last two months we’ve seen a dramatic fall in the number of reported incidents.
“We’ve been going in there regularly, talking to people and utilising our stop and search powers.”
Alongside tackling the issues on the High Street, the Town Centre Team have been working alongside enforcement officers from Thurrock Council to make sure the terms of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that covers the town centre and local park are being respected.
Anyone breaching the order by drinking alcohol, taking other intoxicating substances or being verbally abusive can be issued a fixed penalty notice (FPN).
A/Sgt Butler added that the response to the team’s work had been very positive:
“The high visibility patrols have been well received by the public and we will continue to work with our partners at the council and local businesses to address any issues they may have.
“We want Grays to be a safe and welcoming place for all members of the community to enjoy. I want to encourage anyone who sees any anti-social or criminal behaviour to report it to us so we can deal with it.”
The team’s latest day of intensification saw 35 hours of foot patrols through the town, four stop searches, three PSPO enforcements and 21 engagements with local businesses. A knife was also recovered from the park.
This work formed part of Op Community, a new initiative that will see significant numbers of officers from all areas of the force combatting issues raised by local people in every district across the county.
This enhanced engagement and crime prevention operation takes a proactive approach that emphasises listening to the local community, problem-solving, and investigating all concerns to achieve positive outcomes.
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