Police are increasing city centre patrols to tackle anti-social behaviour in the run-up to a decision over whether Cheshire West and Chester Council should adopt a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which the service supports.
The PSPO would give the police and council more powers to tackle legal highs, street drinking, begging, rough sleeping and managing buskers in the city centre. The constabulary claims the PSPO is not about opposing the vulnerable but will tackle those who refuse to take advantage of the ‘excellent provision’ that already exists for those genuinely in need.
This morning (Wednesday August 26) police gathered at The Cross, a well known hot-spot for anti-social behaviour, to patrol the city centre as part of Operation Centurion.
PC Ben Jones, of Chester City Beat Management, said online: “By now I’m hoping those of you that visit, live and work in the city have seen an increase in officers patrolling the area where we deal with those who would choose to cause us harm or concern. Police activity to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) in Chester is badged under Operation Centurion and we are working hard to make it a success.
“The issues are not new, nor will they ever cease to be a demand on our time, what’s important and what you can be confident of is that we will continually tackle these problems both with enforcement and with our partner agencies. In relation to ASB we have been issuing Dispersal Notices to offenders which require them to leave the city for periods up to 48 hours – failure to comply leads to arrest.”
“This power, although useful is not a catch all solution, in fact some of the issues we see on the streets are not always crime and this is another example where partnership working is of great benefit. Whether that’s signposting someone to support services, or emergency accommodation, we recognise we need to tackle the root cause to eradicate the problem.”
Have your say
Turning to the proposed PSPO, PC Jones added: “You may have heard about the local authority’s public consultation about Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO’s). These powers are not there to be opposing towards the vulnerable in society, far from it, they are designed to help us and the council tackle the issues which you, the members of the public tell us concern you the most.
“As a stakeholder in the city I would encourage you to view the proposals and complete the questionnaire which can be done online here.
“Be assured, Chester has excellent provision for those genuinely in need in our society including those who find themselves living on the streets. What the proposed order will do is allow us further options when dealing with those who consistently refuse to engage with support, take advantage of your good nature by begging despite being accommodated and those who go on to commit crime.
“As a beat manager for the city I have a personal interest in seeing Chester flourish, not just because it’s my job, but because it’s my local town too. I enjoy seeing talented street entertainment that gives the city it’s character and by controlling that I expect we can look forward to some excellent performances in the future. I also feel the same dismay you do when I come across those who have taken ‘legal highs’ and are then causing issues and distress to others. I want to see that stop.”
The PSPO public consultation ends on October 15.