Red card for louts in Suffolk town

LOUTS who spoil people's enjoyment of the Christmas period through anti-social behaviour are to be yellow-carded in a new football-style system to be adopted by police in Suffolk.

LOUTS who spoil people's enjoyment of the Christmas period through anti-social behaviour are to be yellow-carded in a new football-style system to be adopted by police in Suffolk.

Anyone caught urinating, swearing, begging or drinking in the streets of Bury St Edmunds will be shown the cards as part of a new initiative which is being tested until January.

A second offence within a stipulated time scale will see those responsible effectively "sent off" with a red – which will result in an immediate summons to court.

Masterminds behind the scheme, which was first trialled by Surrey Police in Guildford, hope the approach will discourage all forms of anti-social behaviour, while providing a visible reassurance to help reduce the fear of crime.


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"The over-riding principle of this scheme is to tackle low-level anti-social behaviour, such as the sort of things which some people think are acceptable," said Insp Les King, of Suffolk Police.

"The idea is not to take people to court, but to warn them, using the yellow and red cards used in football, which shows offenders they will be arrested and summonsed if they continue that behavioural standard. This should show them they must moderate their behaviour.

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"We are not persecuting the public, but, obviously as we come up to Christmas, people want to go out and enjoy themselves. We want them to understand what is and is not acceptable.

"We think this has got some potential for Bury, and will bring the issues pertinent to the town to people's attention during the Christmas period."

The offences for which people can be carded include two covered by by-laws in the town – drinking and urinating in the streets. Begging, littering the streets and obstructing the highway also feature on the police's hitlist.

If the trial proves a success, officers may consider utilising it further afield and for longer periods of time.

"Often these people do not realise they are upsetting anyone, and this may be the tap on the shoulder which stops them doing it again," added Insp King.

"At the moment, we will give people words of advice and nothing is recorded to remind them they have done something unacceptable. Now they will have had a warning and hopefully will think twice so their names don't end up appearing on a court list."

The scheme will begin on Monday, running 24 hours a day on seven days a week until the New Year.

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