Bid to crackdown on drink crime

REVELLERS in an Essex town centre are set to see an increased visible police presence at weekends following a recent rise in alcohol-fuelled crime.And yesterday a residents' association chairman welcomed the news, saying that young people as young as 13 or 14 were regularly seen drunk in the area.

By Roddy Ashworth

REVELLERS in an Essex town centre are set to see an increased visible police presence at weekends following a recent rise in alcohol-fuelled crime.

And yesterday a residents' association chairman welcomed the news, saying that young people as young as 13 or 14 were regularly seen drunk in the area.

A six-week operation began at the weekend to attempt to reduce anti-social behaviour and alcohol-related violence that has blighted Colchester's town centre during recent weeks.


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This rise in violence crime and criminal damage in the town centre on Friday and Saturday evenings has alarmed police, who hope the clampdown in the run-up to Christmas will improve the town centre's image.

Divisional officers will be supported by colleagues from headquarters as well as their counterparts from the Royal Military Police and British Transport Police.

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Special constables will focus their duties in and around the town centre, with evidence gatherers set to record any offences being committed.

Superintendent Carl O'Malley said he was keen to address the public perception that Colchester town centre is “infected with lager louts and young yobs”.

He added: “We have been quick to notice the problem and pull in resources to tackle the situation.

“The division's overall crime record shows that 48% of violent crimes take place in the town centre, with the majority of these taking place on Friday and Saturday nights.”

Over this past weekend, nearly 20 teenagers were arrested for criminal damage and alcohol-related violence.

One 12-year-old girl had to be forcibly restrained after being violently sick in the high street, despite being adamant that she had not consumed alcohol before leaving home.

Supt O'Malley added: “We've noticed a disturbingly high number of teenagers entering the town centre having consumed alcohol beforehand.

“During their time in the town centre, they become embroiled in anti-social behaviour, including drunken brawls and mindless vandalism. This does lead to questions over parental control.”

Dimitri Murray, chairman of the Dutch Quarter Association, said: “We experience a lot of drunkenness in this area as people walk to and from the town centre.

“You can see 13 and 14-year-olds who are obviously drunk. It's a bit early to reach a conclusion, but we do welcome this police action and hope it will make a change.

“The problems we experience are generally graffiti and vandalism, often of cars, but they do swear and can be abusive.

“However, you don't want to say anything in order to avoid trouble. You wouldn't want to get involved - the streets here are very narrow.”

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