Safer Penzance increases presence in town in response to concerns about anti-social behaviour

Anti-social behaviour workers will be increasing patrols in Penzance and police are set to hold drop in sessions in the town centre following concerns raised by the local community.

During this week's public meeting in Penzance, members of the local community voiced concerns about street drinking and anti-social behaviour, as well as drug paraphernalia discarded in the town centre. As a result, this week members of Cornwall Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour team and the police have stepped up joint patrols in Penzance, and the Council’s Drug and Alcohol Action Team has brought in additional outreach support. Towards the end of the month the police will begin drop in sessions for members of the public to share any concerns they have.

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As lighter nights and warmer temperatures tend to draw out those who are more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, PCSOs are regularly visiting known hot spots, while police officers and the Council's Anti-Social Behaviour Team are also carrying out additional patrols.

While there is not an outright ban on people drinking alcohol in the street, Penzance town centre - like all towns across Cornwall - is covered by a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which gives police the power to require an individual to stop drinking or surrender alcohol.

“We are aware of the concern in the town about the increase in bad behaviour on the streets and are working closely with our colleagues in the Safer Penzance partnership to do what we can to discourage this behaviour," said Penzance police inspector, Nicholas Clarke. "But to do this we must be told at the time a problem is occurring so we have the opportunity to deal with it.

"Recent commentary on social media and in local media suggests that not all crime is being reported to the police at the time it occurs, and in some cases it is not being reported at all. We need people to report issues to us direct."

Repeat offenders are being tackled by Cornwall Council's anti-social behaviour caseworkers who, working with the police, have issued Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO) to seven repeat offenders over the last 12 months. CBOs are not only used to place restrictions on someone to deter them from repeating anti-social behaviour, but also are a way to require people to engage with drug or alcohol treatment services. A number of arrests for breaches of this order have been made.

As of today, the Penzance policing area reports overall crime seeing a 24% increase as compared to last year. The police report that this general increase is in line with a national trend and takes into account changes to crime classifications. A large majority of these figures relate to improved reporting of offences such as malicious communications and harassment. However, both shoplifting and robberies within the town have reduced since last year.

Tackling the root causes of anti-social behaviour is key to resolving issues in the long term, and agencies need time and resources to achieve this, explained Sue James, Cornwall Council cabinet member for environment and public protection.

"We are all very aware of the issues in Penzance and while there might be a perception that little is being done, Safer Penzance is taking action," she said.

"The partnership understands and is acting on the concerns raised. Multi-agency patrols are in place, and we will be working with businesses and residents in the local community to raise awareness of how to report issues and the work underway to address concerns.

"We know that just moving people on does not deliver a sustainable or safe solution and that we have to assertively engage people in treatment. As of this week our Drug and Alcohol Action Team has recruited another assertive outreach worker to engage with individuals in Penzance and reduce the harm they may be causing to themselves and others."

Cllr Dick Cliffe, Penzance Town Mayor, said; “Success is going to require more and deeper partnership working to make the most of limited resources.  We are exploring with Cornwall Council having Penzance ASB and Community Safety officers based in the Town Centre.  Penzance BID is prepared to locate their BID Manager with them and the Town Council is considering funding a Town Centre Manager also to be collocated with them.  A Town Centre management office would make reporting and responding to ASB much more efficient. The police have also committed to using this office and holding surgeries there.

“We are also working with Cornwall Council and the Police over reviewing the Penzance Public Space Protection Order to ensure it covers all of the unwanted behaviours and is simple to enforce.

“The drug abuse issue is by far the most difficult issue to deal with. I believe the starting point has to be education of community leaders. Rampant drug misuse has been the elephant in the room that nobody speaks about – we need to acknowledge this in order to move on.  We can do something about drug litter in the short term.”

However, to trigger these responses, residents can help by reporting through the right routes:

  • If people experience anti-social behaviour, email or call 101 for non-emergencies and in an emergency call 999.
  • If you have information about a crime you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
  • For concerns about drug paraphernalia, such as needles, on the street, email Cornwall Council Refuse and Recycling or call 0300 1234 141.
  • Sign up to Devon & Cornwall Alert  and keep track of crime in your local area
  • Follow Penzance neighbourhood website