Police and council join forces to tackle eyesores in historic city

A RADICAL approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour has been drawn up in York to deal with thousands of reports of fly-tipping and graffiti every year amid concerns the fabric of the historic city is being eroded.

York Council has joined forces with North Yorkshire Police to provide a more streamlined approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour in what is thought to be the first scheme of its kind in the country.

The drive is aimed at ensuring resources are deployed effectively and comes as both the North Yorkshire force and the city council are having to impose multi-million pound savings to cope with the dramatic reduction in funding from the Government.

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York Council’s cabinet member for crime and stronger communities, Councillor Linsay Cunningham-Cross, told the Yorkshire Post the decision had been taken to create the new unit to ensure the city’s world famous heritage was not undermined.

The worst case of anti-social behaviour in the city in recent years saw the iconic Clifford’s Tower daubed in graffiti. Slogans were scrawled in black paint across the grade I listed monument in 2011 and it cost English Heritage more than £2,000 to remove them.

Coun Cunningham-Cross said: “We want to ensure that York is kept clean and respectable. It is not solely about the historic heart of the city, it is focused on all neighbourhoods but there is a very real need to ensure that we do not lose what makes York so special. It is one of the safest cities in the country, but we want to make sure that people feel safe as well.”

She added: “Its aim is to ensure a more efficient, timely and appropriate response to anti-social behaviour within our communities, unlike any other operation in the country.

“It is proposed the hub will be a single team of frontline enforcement officers from both organisations, which will mean more effective officer time to deal with both anti-social behaviour as well as other crimes and issues of concern to our communities, whilst also building the communities’ own confidence and capacity to deal with anti-social behaviour.”

A dedicated hub is due to be created at the council’s West Offices headquarters to act as a base for both the authority’s own enforcement unit and police officers. Plans are also being considered to give council staff and police officers uniform powers to hand out fines to offenders.

About 12,000 reports of anti-social behaviour to police and 3,500 cases are reported to York Council each year.

However many of the incidents involve more than one agency, creating complications in dealing with the problems.

The new hub would ensure officers will be deployed more rapidly and effectively seven days a week. It would also allow a more co-ordinated approach to use the expertise from other council departments including trading standards, licensing and housing.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick admitted plans for the new approach to anti-social behaviour had been drawn up after concerns were raised by residents.

He said: “The proposed joint approach seeks to ensure the city has an effective and efficient response to the needs of the community as outlined in both the Police and Crime Plan and York Council strategy. The types of anti-social behaviour being experienced by communities are wide ranging and affect not only individual victims but also whole communities and the environment.”

The proposed project has also won the backing of North Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan, who claimed it will provide “an innovative approach to an old problem”.

Staffing the new hub is expected to be covered by existing budgets, although there are some start-up costs including £5,000 in training.

The plans are due to be discussed by both the council’s cabinet and the police’s executive board next Tuesday.