This week marks the first ever Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Awareness Week across the UK.
Police Now participants work as neighbourhood police officers whilst on the National Graduate Leadership Programme, working in their communities to tackle deep-rooted problems and reduce ASB from the very start of their policing careers.
PC Kate Hollis of Hampshire Constabulary managed a long-standing issue of ASB as part of her role on the Southsea, Portsmouth Neighbourhood Policing Team.
PC Hollis faced the challenge of dealing with large groups of young people “tombstoning” – jumping into the sea and putting themselves at serious risk – from the old city walls, known locally as the Hotwalls. The groups would often cause ASB and associated crime and disorder, disrupting the local residents, businesses and tourists in the area.
PC Hollis raised the issue at a Tactical Planning Meeting to make it a district priority and analysed the times and places ASB was most likely to take place, in order to allocate a targeted police patrol plan in the area. She spoke with the local community to understand and respond to their needs, and explain how the police and community might work together to resolve the issues.
After successfully applying for Home Office funding, she was also able to bring in Mutual Gain, a social enterprise which brings together businesses and the community to help solve local issues and promote participation and active citizenship. Mutual Gain facilitated meetings between ‘Hotwalls’ stakeholders including local community members, businesses, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire Police, youth services and various other partners, to understand the ASB issues and begin a wider engagement process. COVID-19 has presented challenges in keeping this group together and it is hoped that with the easing of restrictions the positive work will continue. The intention of the group will act as a platform through which local residents and organisations can express their views, help to build relationships between partners further, and play a part in the problem-solving process.
PC Hollis continued to manage relationships with local partners, updating them with police use of legislation such as dispersal orders and providing a single point of contact for agencies, and has now progressed to the Criminal Investigations Department in Portsmouth, covering a wider area including Fareham, Gosport, Waterlooville, Havant.
She said: “When the public see the police and it is a true reflection of themselves and their communities it empowers victims of crime and ASB to come forward and report incidents. As a knock-on effect, police are better able to understand their communities and so tackle the issues which are most important to them. The value of empathy in a police force can never be undervalued; at the heart of policing is people wanting to help and protect those most in need.”