In recent months incidents have related to nuisance caused by large groups of youths, especially around fast food restaurants. Recent dispersal orders, which covered the whole of the town centre and the retail park, were successful in ensuring these groups did not return to the area while the orders were in place.
The aim of Operation Syren is to focus on and improve the quality of life for the whole community including: residents, market traders, and retailers. The police led campaign is being supported by a number of partners including the Meridian Shopping Centre and Havant Borough Council’s Community Safety Team.
Meridian Shopping Centre Manager Rob Fryer said: “We have been working alongside Havant’s Neighbourhood Policing Team to deal with small incidents of anti-social behaviour in the town centre in recent months. The Meridian Shopping Centre team has adopted a high profile approach and staff have been issued with body cameras as a deterrent. This footage could be used at a later date to secure a prosecution if required.
“The centre has also invested in new external CCTV cameras on our building giving us greater visibility of the surrounding areas in the town centre.
“We feel It is vital that local shoppers choose to come to Havant, instead of other retail destinations, to support local traders, especially in the run up to Christmas. Making shoppers feel safe is key to the success of retailers in the town centre and I’m pleased that Operation Syren will help to give people that re-assurance”.
Inspector Andy Clinton said: “Tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a priority for Hampshire Constabulary and it is being dealt with in a number of ways. Havant’s Neighbourhood Policing Team is leading the joint response to monitor and evaluate reports of ASB in the town centre”.
Sergeant Ross Freemantle said: “In many cases it’s teenagers who are causing ASB issues, but we can’t do anything unless we know about it. While Operation Syren will include the use of dispersal orders and targeted patrols to manage any ASB hot spots that we identify, the success of the campaign rests squarely on the shoulders of the whole community. Don’t think that someone else will report the problem. We need you to report any incidents to us, so that we can build a complete picture of what is happening in the town centre. You can do this by visiting the Hampshire Constabulary website or calling 101.
“The message to those people responsible for nuisance and anti-social behaviour issues is simple. We will take action, and this could lead to you having a criminal record. This in turn could affect your eligibility for employment, your ability to borrow money, or may mean that you cannot travel to countries like the United States in the future. We have a number of powers to tackle ASB and these include: fixed penalty notices, acceptable behaviour contracts, and criminal behaviour orders.
“Fixed penalty notices generally deal with environmental offences such as litter, graffiti and dog fouling. These notices can be issued to anyone over 10 years-old. Penalty notices for disorder are issued for more serious offences, such as throwing fireworks or being drunk and disorderly. These notices can be issued to anyone over 16 years-old.
“Teenagers given an acceptable behaviour contract will, together with a parent or guardian, be asked to attend a meeting to see a police officer or a council officer. They will be asked to sign the voluntary agreement. These normally last for six months, but they may be extended if necessary.
“Criminal behaviour orders, which have now replaced ASBO’S, are imposed by a court and can restrict where you go, who you hang out with, and what activities you are allowed to take part in. Breaching the order is a criminal offence, which can lead to a prison sentence or a fine. If you continue to cause anti-social behaviour you may even lose your home. For example, when a parent or guardian first obtains a council property they must sign a tenancy agreement. If you or any member of your family then breach this contract by committing anti-social behaviour, the council may consider repossession of the property”.
· Sometimes children do not consider the consequences of their actions, so ask them to think about whether they could be causing distress to others, damaging the environment or putting themselves in danger.
· Often children do not need to buy alcohol, they take it from home without their parents’ knowledge. Keep alcohol in a safe place and keep a check on how much you have, so that you will know if any goes missing.
· Young people are also often the victims of disorder, so if you or your child experience anti-social behaviour, make sure you report it to the police. We cannot send officers to every incident, but if you let us know what is happening in your area, we can make sure our resources are targeted effectively.