Superintendent Mark Khan said the Guildhall ward was the busiest in the North Yorkshire policing area, along with the centre of Scarborough, as he pledged to look at whether the area was being given enough resources.
Supt Khan was speaking to residents at a ward meeting last night at the invitation of councillor Fiona Fitzpatrick. It follows two deaths at a property in Markham Crescent within a week of each other last month.
Two men have been charged with murder over the second death, while the first is still being investigated.
The meeting heard from residents who said they had been reporting anti-social behaviour in Markham Crescent since September, with one saying the second death had been “a great tragedy” that could have been avoided if preventative action had been taken.
Supt Khan, the police commander for York and Selby, said: “I’ve seen the phone calls coming in and something was done. Unfortunately what happened was in the five or six weeks, two people unfortunately died at that address, but there were moves in progress. On the back of your calls, work was happening to try to solve the problem.”
He added that charges had been brought just 48 hours after he second death.
Supt Khan, who took up his new role over summer, said the increasing complexity of cases North Yorkshire Police (NYP) deal with has meant “there’s been a retreat in some parts of our resources from what I call ‘location policing’.”
But he said the force was moving towards a prevention and early intervention model by working with partners to identify particular areas which need extra resources to tackle the root causes of crime.
He added: “We now have to stop, put our foot on the wall and say we need to go back to community policing in some format because that’s what the public want.”
Residents told of their concerns about the increasing amount of anti-social behaviour in Clarence Street, with several people saying they were too scared to walk there alone at night.
One resident of Markham Crescent, who did not want to be named, said: “Last Saturday night I was walking home about 6.30pm with my two children. In the bus shelter on one side of the road there were four people clearly heavily intoxicated from alcohol, on the other side there were four people smoking cannabis.
“And in the middle of the road, just there on pavement, was someone eating a kebab from a tray on the floor.”
Supt Khan said Clarence Street was a priority for NYP chief constable, Lisa Winward, who recently held a meeting about the issue.
He added: “She was being very forceful about the need to get to the bottom of this because from our perspective, we’ve put in an awful lot of resourcing and we’re not getting the results that we want, which is lower numbers of calls for services.”
Supt Khan stressed that the police alone could not solve complex issues and needed the support of the community and other agencies.
He added: “We are the muscle, the police are the coercive power for everybody in this room. When you use us – use us – but you can’t use us indefinitely because we’re not effective indefinitely – we are effective, short and sharp.
“What are we going to do about the drunks on the street once we’ve enforced the law against them? The police can’t do it on their own.”
Supt Khan said he would look at the creation of an independent advisory group to bring people together, while Coun Fitzpatrick said she would ask the community whether they would like her to organise a summit to start to address some of the issues.