Patrols in the town continue to clampdown on issues including ongoing concerns over noise, criminal damage, alcohol misuse, and complaints around threatening behaviour and harassment. Breaches of the warnings can lead to arrest and prosecution and they are often an important first step in closely monitoring the actions of a small minority of people, who are sometimes also linked to environmental concerns such as littering and fly tipping.
Sergeant Ian Loader of the Tunbridge Wells Community Safety Unit said: ‘We have officers dedicated to tackling anti-social behaviour, who are committed to identifying issues which are having a detrimental impact of people’s lives. As is often the case, it is a small number of individuals responsible for actions which can be the cause of profound distress and harm, often directly affecting neighbours and sometimes impacting on entire communities.’
One of these officers is PC Elizabeth Simpson, who for the past year has been instrumental in ensuring those linked to complaints of anti-social behaviour face greater scrutiny. In one example, PC Simpson dealt with a woman persistently responsible for nuisance behaviour and disorder, as well as other related offences, around her home address and within the town centre. PC Simpson enabled powers including prohibiting the woman from drinking alcohol in public areas, and important measures were also put in place to ensure she was able to access support and vital interventions required to help deal with substance misuse.
Sgt Loader added: ‘Ultimately a coordinated approach with our partners has successfully and significantly reduced the woman’s offending behaviour and improved not only her life but those of residents living nearby, as well as the experience of visitors to our town.’
Whilst robust police enforcement remains an important element in tackling anti-social behaviour, officers are also trained to understand and recognise concerns which may require intervention from other agencies such as child protection teams, or charities who can support vulnerable adults. On 3 June 2021, constables and police community support officers took part in a day of action, in and around the town, specifically aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour among young people. They visited various locations including play areas, car parks and train stations in Tunbridge Wells, Paddock Wood and High Brooms and were supported by partners including the borough council, British Transport Police, South Eastern Railway, Early Help and St Giles Trust.
Sgt Loader said: ‘Coordinated and proactive activity during the half term holidays helps us prevent and also respond more effectively to issues often caused by large groups. A visible policing deterrent is only one part of tackling anti-social behaviour and the important contributions from our partners means we can understand better the needs of those who may be attracted to these groups. This joined up approach helps us address issues related to alcohol and drugs and also provide advice to young people about keeping safe and staying away from crime.’