More police officers put on the beat to tackle ‘mischief’ time

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EXTRA police will be on the streets of South Yorkshire to try and crack down on petty crime and anti-social behaviour over the traditionally busy Halloween and Bonfire Night period.

Temporary assistant chief constable Bob Sanderson said yesterday that, while crime over the “mischief” period had been down in recent years, police are still expecting a spike in callouts.

He said: “This time of year always brings increased demand for the emergency services, from now until after November 5.

“Over the past few years we’ve got better and better at dealing with it.

“What we’re seeking to do is, during this period leading up to November 5, provide additional resources for more police officers and police community support officers to be out on the streets. We’ve tailored our resources accordingly so that they can be out there, policing and dealing with issues that are of concern to communities.

“The idea is that there are plenty of uniforms patrolling at peak times, which are October 31, November 4 which is traditionally Mischief Night, and on November 5.”

As well as putting additional officers out on the streets, South Yorkshire Police has also teamed up with other public sector organisations such as South Yorkshire’s four councils, to offer a programme of activities for youngsters.

These include sports sessions football games, craft workshops, DJ worksops and fancy dress parties.

Mr Sanderson said: “The idea is that the more we can give kids to do to divert them away from the streets, the more likely we are to be successful in reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.

“If we keep kids off the streets and give them something meaningful and productive to do then hopefully we’ll see a reduction in crime.

“At this time of year we tend to get more calls complaining about things such as misuse of fireworks, youths walking around in large groups and nuisance drinking in the street.

“Over this period it’s exacerbated as kids get together in groups to go trick or treating. People walking around in large groups and gangs can be intimidating.”

Over the past two years, the number of crimes over the Halloween and Bonfire Night period has decreased “quite significantly”, Mr Sanderson said.

He added: “The key to it, for me, is the diversionary activities.

“If we provide something for kids to do, such as sport and art, then this should lead to crime reductions.

“The main nights are Halloween and Bonfire Night, as well as November 4.

“When I was a kid, everybody used to get involved in Mischief Night, but these days it’s not as popular a date.

“But, although crime has decreased over the past couple of years, it’s still higher at this time of year than we want it to be and we will still see an increase from ‘normal’ levels no matter what we do.

“What we need to do is try and keep that increase to a minimum.”

Meanwhile, as the clocks change this weekend, the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership is encouraging pedestrians to “be bright, be seen”.

This is part of a Government campaign running on television and in cinemas, which is aimed at children aged six to 11 and spells out the dangers of not taking care on the roads

Ken Wheat, manager of the partnership, said: “If you’re a motorist then you’ll know how difficult it can be to see pedestrians wearing dark clothes at night or when visibility is poor.

“With the clocks changing this weekend I would encourage all parents to remind their children about the Green Cross Code and ensure that they are wearing bright or reflective clothing.

“We would also ask drivers and riders to remain vigilant and check the condition of their vehicles as winter draws near.”