Colchester launches plan to crack down on antisocial behaviour

Mike Lilley (left) and chief inspector Shaun Kane launching Colchester town centre action plan earli

Mike Lilley (left) and chief inspector Shaun Kane launching Colchester town centre action plan earlier this month Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Colchester Borough Council and Essex Police have joined forces to launch Colchester’s ‘Town Centre Action Plan’ (TCAP), a partnership project designed to crack down on anti-social behaviour in the town centre.

The council is investing over £240,000 into delivery of TCAP, as part of its £2 million strategic programme to spruce up Colchester.

The investment will enable the council to deliver on its priority to Fight Crime and Improve Community Safety, and aims to call time on reported instances of aggressive begging, street drinking, anti-social behaviour, and drug use or selling in the town centre, by boosting the resources currently available to both the council and police force.

It comes two months after businesses in the town centre voted to form a Business Improvement District (BID) and pool funds to spend on community events and other features to make Colchester more appealing to shoppers.

However, Colchester town centre shops are facing increasing competition from out of town retail parks. The latest one to be given planning consent is Stane Park in Stanway, where developer Churchmanor Estates plans to build nine new retail units including Marks and Spencer, Aldi and B&Q.

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Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Public Safety & Licensing, said: “I very much welcome this fresh approach to tackling anti-social behaviour in the town, which is different from anything we have delivered before. It’s fantastic news that we can invest significant new money into a dedicated resource that means we can drastically step up the action we take against a small but disruptive number of people who are blighting our town centre.”

The TCAP investment will see an additional ten new officers – “Team 10” – recruited to join forces with the borough’s existing team of Zone Wardens, Licensing Officers and Anti-Social Behaviour Officers. All will have the power to tackle anti-social behaviour through an agreed process of enforcement actions and will include an additional officer for the borough’s rural areas.

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The investment also includes £10,000 funding to raise awareness of and increase the number of ‘Street Weeks’ – a community outreach programme which encourages the public to highlight issues of local concern and take action to help change their communities for the better.

Chief Inspector Shaun Kane, District Commander for Colchester, said: “I firmly believe that Essex Police, Colchester Borough Council and most importantly the residents we serve all want the same thing: safe communities, reduced fear of crime, and problems identified and solved quickly.

“My officers and PCSOs in Colchester are working hard to make a safe place even safer, and I welcome the vision and commitment of Colchester Borough Council in committing resources that will put more visible police officers and PCSOs on our streets.

“With crimes like burglary, car theft and cycle theft all reducing in Colchester, my pledge is that residents will see the extra difference these new officers and PCSOs will make, on top of the work we’re already doing on issues like aggressive begging and disorder in the town centre.”

The partnership will officially launch in early September but, with the action plan agreed in July, work has already begun to create and maintain a multi-agency record of all TCAP actions.

Through weekly meetings, the partnership discusses cases of individuals or groups involved in criminal activity or anti-social behaviour in the town and seeks outcomes through a joined-up approach. This may be via enforcement and the issue of penalty notices or, where appropriate, support from the rough sleeping coordinator or homelessness organisations.

Cllr Lilley added: “TCAP is designed to tackle those involved in criminal activity, or who are being violent, aggressive or abusive, and is not aimed at homeless people whose needs are being addressed by our outreach coordinators and housing services. I urge all members of the public to show their support for a safer borough and report crime using the email address as we need your help.”

The Action Plan will be led by the Community Safety Partnership which consists of key organisations in Colchester that all play a vital role in making Colchester a safer place, including Essex Police, Community 360, NHS, Essex Fire and Rescue Service, Colchester Garrison and Colchester Borough Homes.

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