Stowmarket: Respect zone ‘a success’

CALLS to police about anti-social behaviour in a busy town centre car park have stopped since the introduction of a ground-breaking measure.

A “respect zone” was created at the Ipswich Street car park in Stowmarket, close to the Regal Theatre, in a bid to reduce the nuisance noise created there by youths gathering in their cars on Friday and Saturday nights.

A large section of the ground was painted green, marked out as the “respect zone” and signs were put up on walls warning car park users to behave.

And it has worked - so much so that police say calls about late-night problems at what used to be the main hot spot are now a thing of the past.

Sergeant Neil Paterson, head of the Stowmarket Safer Neighbourhood Team, said he had not received a significant call since the zone was introduced in early October.

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He said: “We haven’t had any calls to go to the car park in relation to noisy vehicles or anti-social behaviour.

“It was every weekend - Fridays and Saturdays - and it would be multiple times in a night.

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“And all that would be down to people just meeting and congregating there, playing their music loudly and talking to each other. As their stereos were so loud, they would be shouting to each other and people would also be there waiting for their friends to come out of the club (Jokers).”

A mobile police station was set up in the car park for the first few weeks to really illustrate the point that the zone was to be respected and that enforcement notices would be issued to those ignoring it.

There were some concerns that the nuisance drivers had simply moved to other parts of the town, but Sgt Paterson said it had become clear that wasn’t the case.

He added: “We haven’t dispersed it from one (place) to another. The problems for other locations were always there but were clamped-down on along with the Regal car park.

“We just don’t have the volume of young people causing problems that we did have.”

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