Bournemouth’s Air Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the town every year. This year we were lucky to have good weather, amazing displays and a lot of varied agencies pulling together to keep the town safe.
We have just launched a new Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) in Bournemouth, where fully trained and accredited patrolling officers are in the town centre seven days a week to deter low level crime and anti-social behaviour.
The CSAS officers are jointly employed by Dorset Police and the Council and are part of the central neighbourhood policing team. This year I joined the team on foot for the weekend and we had additional officers from our Boscombe scheme join us.
In total four of us spent the weekend in the town addressing any issues but also offering support and guidance to members of the public. Racking up around 12-15 kilometres per day in a stab vest and heavy boots really gave me an appreciation of how hard the team work, and how a warm day isn’t as enjoyable when you’re on duty.
The team work tirelessly day-in-day-out to address begging, street drinking and anti-social behaviour through being a visual presence but with their targeted powers. We can’t solve everything, and sometimes the laws are restrictive on what can be done, but engagement is sometimes enough to stop problematic behaviours and where it isn’t we gather evidence for the anti-social behaviour team to take future action.
This year we have had a lot of good enforcement outcomes, from arrests to removing people from the town centre, but also supporting those who are vulnerable and really building those relationships to increase engagement. Enforcement isn’t always the answer and a lot of the time support from other agencies such as St Mungo’s and Addaction works far better, so the team make referrals into those teams and many more.
I had lots of conversations with people who were really positive about the impact of the new CSAS scheme, noting an improvement in the town centre.
Often rough-sleeping and some types of street-based activity get associated together and it’s important to note that not all people that beg are homeless and not all homeless people beg. Homelessness has seen a national increase, as have rough sleeping figures and Bournemouth is sadly no exception.
It is essential that we work in partnership to support people to find suitable accommodation and support for their needs. This work goes hand-in-hand with enforcement activity where there is significant anti-social behaviour or criminal activity.
We are constantly working with partners including support teams to maintain a careful balance between meeting the support needs of vulnerable people and managing the impact of any anti-social or criminal behaviours on the wider public.