Police Constable Sophie Harris, who joined West Midlands Police in 2020 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, successfully prevented and reduced anti-social behaviour (ASB) in a McDonalds in Solihull in ‘Operation Crestline.’
Sophie, who had temporarily been promoted to second in command of the St Alphege Neighbourhood Policing Team, was alerted to several reports of ASB inside the fast-food restaurant. On one occasion, the team received six calls in one day reporting ASB – including smoke bombs being set off and diners being sprayed with fire extinguishers.
Sophie organised for a rotation of police officers to be stationed at the restaurant as an initial deterrence and to support McDonalds staff. She then worked with the ASB Coordinator at Solihull Council, social services and community partners to identify those involved and deter them from re-offending. Home visits were conducted and Sophie, alongside PCSOs and other policing colleagues, also visited several high schools and colleges to deliver talks on ASB, explaining the impact on the community and policing.
Almost all the youths that were visited did not re-offend and the number of reports of ASB in the local McDonalds dropped by 78% in the 6-month period following the operation. Two S.35 Dispersal Orders were authorised for Solihull Town Centre and Parks, and a Community Protection Notice and several Acceptable Behaviour Agreements were also issued – which set out conditions that must be abided by, such as regularly engaging with youth offending officers or not entering the town centre without a parent or guardian.
PC Sophie Harris said: “Working with existing community partners is key when looking at long-term solutions to preventing anti-social behaviour and safeguarding vulnerable youths. In some of these cases we worked with partners like the ASB Coordinator at Solihull Council, who assisted in placing referrals to external agencies which aim to divert young people from a cycle of crime. These can include partner agencies such as The Prince’s Trust and The Violent Reduction Partnership, which redirect young people away from ASB and into education or sporting activities. This in turn not only reduces ASB but prevents the low-level offending from escalating into more serious offences. The operation also helped us build a stronger relationship with the staff at McDonalds, who said their confidence in their local policing team increased thanks to our work.
“This piece of work coincided with a two-week period in which I stepped up to support the team as second in command, while two senior colleagues were temporarily seconded. It was a busy time but a great chance to put into practice the leadership skills I have developed whilst on Police Now’s programme. I received some lovely feedback from Inspector Wallace and I was delighted to also receive a ‘Heroes for Heroes’ nomination from my Inspector, Insp Angus McPherson, for the work.”
Inspector Angus McPherson said: “PC Harris has shown strong leadership skills, engaging with others in the team and always supporting her colleagues with a calm and gentle approach. It’s incredible that she only has a year and a half of policing experience under her belt. I am sure she will move up the ranks quickly and I can’t wait to see her continue to make a positive impact in her community.”
Sophie also recently received a Commander’s Neighbourhood Policing Unit Award from Chief Superintendent Ian Parnell, for her work organising a force-wide recruitment and engagement event which saw 750 members of the community attend.
This week (18th – 22nd July) marks Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Awareness Week across the UK. Participants on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme work as neighbourhood police officers in communities across the country, to tackle deep-rooted problems and reduce ASB from the very start of their policing careers.