Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tackling Disorder in Springfield

Regular blog readers will know that fighting anti-social behaviour in and around Springfield is one of our top priorities.

I think a good working partnership has developed now with the Police and the wardens, and no longer do we have to struggle to make people aware of the problems faced by local people, particularly on a Friday and Saturday night.

Certainly the CCTV cameras are helping, but more needs to be done. Whilst the old school playing field on Salters Lane South remains undeveloped, however, it will continue to act as a magnet for trouble.

(The good news is that despite what you may have read in an ahem local daily newspaper, the scheme to build on the footprint of the old school is still very much alive and certainly hasn't been "mothballed" - I've had this confirmed again by senior Town Hall officers earlier this week).

Anyway, this weekend saw another entirely welcome push by the Police to get a grip of things in the locality. The Police crew bus was initially parked in ASDA's car park, and the idea was that any young person found to be intoxicated or causing any anti-social behaviour would be escorted to a senior officer and their parents would be called and asked to pick up their son/daughter. There were several PCSO's on bikes and foot, Police officers on foot and other Police officers in a vehicle.

Later, there was a group of youths in the old Springfield School site that scattered when they saw the Police approach them, however 6 youths were stopped and their details taken. The Police then did a search of the area and found 5 litres of Lambrini and some Vodka and coke which was confiscated.

After 10pm, ASDA called the Police regarding a group of youths that were causing annoyance, and when the Police arrived the group were quite difficult and one female was taken home- the names of the rest of the group were taken and joint interviews with the Police will be carried out.
I'm also told that appropriate enforcement action will be taken against the group of youths found in the old Springfield School site earlier in the evening.

Tactics are constantly evolving to deal with the problems locally - certainly the Police feel that by confiscating alcohol early, the area was much quieter later on as a result. The authorities have our full backing and I'm sure the local community for their continuing efforts.


Ian White, townliar.com said...


Nice to see once again you get the monopoly on the Polices resources whilst the out lying villages on the most part have to make do with one PC & one PCSO.

Im not saying you shouldn't but you need to realise this problem is not just in your ward but everyones ward.

Perhaps if the penalty's were financially harsher for example much much bigger fines to be deducted directly off wages when earning like other agency's do would be one way?

Lower the age for community service to 16 (if it isnt already) and those under 16 accumulate their hours till they reach 16 then must work them off?

Make an ASBO mean something an or else borstal something not just a medal to be bragged about?

I could go on as I am sure you know but just a few suggestions thrown in to get the topic rolling!

cllr. mark burton said...

Good suggestions Ian. But my thoughts are more along the lines of an exchange system where people who time and time again obviously don’t have any respect for others and clearly don’t appreciate what opportunities this country has to offer – and to run an exchange system, with people from other parts of the globe, of their same age and gender… simple and all for the cost of a return ticket! But would these other communities want them? Am I being a tad harsh? ;)

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks for your comments, Ian and Mark.

I'd like to challenge the idea that we are somehow "monopolising" Police resources here in Haughton West, however. Yes, we keep in close touch with both the Police and the wardens regarding ASB in the ward. We have developed a robust relationship, and I think that this has helped with the siting of the 2 CCTV cameras in the ward, and the Dispersal Order which we had in place last year.

But things were very bad for local residents for these measures to be taken. The Police don't follow local councillors' instructions, but rather carefully prioritise resources based on need, and certainly their input has been sorely needed in Springfield.

I'm sure that the Police are targetting their resources appropriately. Of course there are problems all over town, and the Police and the wardens will deal with hotspots just as they are here.

Blimey, Mark - transportation. But which country would take our little darlings?

cllr. mark burton said...

Well I’ve given this some thought today… at work, and have an acronym, as we love those so much; GOES ‘Global Opportunities Exchange Services’. As for the countries to take our little darlings… this will need some careful consideration, I hear Zimbabwe is nice this time of year ;)

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Mark. Zimbabwe is a tragic ocuntry which is ruled over by an evil despot who is deliberately impoverishing the people, except for his friends.

Turning to the issues of the posting. Anti social behaviour and underage drinking cannot simply be solved by confiscating their alcohol, escorting the youngsters home, curfews, dispersal order or serving them with ASBOs. They are not getting to the heart of the problem.

We have large numbers of young people on our streets on an evening who have been turned out there and they have nothing to do. They gather in large numbers because they feel safe to do so and they are fueled by cheap booze bought for them because they cannot get it themselves and they start to push the boundaries back and create their own rules by what is now called anti social behaviour and causing nuisance and anoyance.

You are right in another posting about asking if their parents know where they are of an evening. I suspect not.

The faciliites for the young people in the Harrowgate Hill, Whinfield and Springfield areas are woefully inadequate. We need facilities which diverts the youngsters away from hanging around the streets and drinking themselves to death. The sporting facilities in the area need substantial investment. They will not be a "white elephant."

Answers have to be found and soon. The sledgehammer isn't working.

cllr. mark burton said...

A change of mind... GOES - ‘Global Opportunities Exchange Scheme’ sounds much better. So Zimbabwe's no good eh. I was sure someone there would have loved the opportunity to have exchanged with someone here, o'well, let’s see... I sponsor a child in the Dominican Republic, he’s 12. On the scale of things, I’m sure he would love to exchange with a child here who has nothing to do?

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

We used to sponsor a child in Chile through World Vision. World Vision is an excellent project.

The issue of disengaged youths is a very serious issue for Darlington which needs to be taken seriously by everyone.

The Government's Staying Safe Action Plan which has recently been published gives some answers to the problems including greater investment in sporting facilities and more out of hours centres for young people to divert them away from the streets.

It would be wrong if the majority of the investment which is coming from the Government through Staying Safe goes to certain areas of the town and not to Whinfield, Springfield, Harrowgate Hill, North Road areas, Hurworth and Middleton St. George where the problems are particularly acute.

Darlington Councillor said...

Honestly, Alan, I can't believe that you're still banging on about "nothing to do" for young people in the North East of the town, when you were at the meeting of Whinfield Residents' Association in the New Year at which I highlighted just how many clubs and activities were on offer at the Education Village alone after hours. There was agreement at the meeting that lack of facilities was not the issue here.

For sure, not everything for young people is provided by the Council, but why should it be? I support voluntary and faith groups in their desire to provide activities for young people, as well as clubs and uniform groups.

Of course the Council has a role to play too - that includes providing activities for some of the 'hard to reach' groups, including those who are hanging around on street corners. We have also produced a comprehensive list of the actvities which are on offer around the Borough, whether Council or not, for young people, and you can see more about that on the DBC website. Finally, rather than rely on what politicians think young people need, we have actively consulted with young people about facilities, most recently at the Click in the Park exercise the weekend before last. The results of that are now being analysed.

So whilst there are a stck of things for young people to do, if they choose to engage with them, it's only right and proper that there is a robust response to ASB when it occurs too. I support the Police and the wardens in the difficult job they do, and I won't shy away from continuing to ask for resources for the ward when that is necessary. I'm not sure from your post whether the LibDems would add their support?

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

An interesting debate. Point taken.

The young people on the streets are disengaged because everything is closed to them. They don't want too much organising. Have you asked them what they want? It's all well and good going up to them with a list of activities,but they have to want to participate.

I firmly believe that part of the answer lies in investing in decent indoor and outdoor sports facilities in the north east of the town which is sadly missing. I go to other towns in the region and they have had the foresight to invest in sporting facilities for their young people. They have excellent facilities. Sports halls, the length and breadth of Darlington have been closed down and the land sold off. Where they exist they are too expensive for the young to access, inconveniently located or closed when the need for them is most acute. They are community assets.

If you built state of the art indoor full size gymnasium and all weather pitches and a running track at Longfield the place would be crowded out every night. I have no doubts about that whatsoever.

cllr mark burton said...

How about...
Archery - Gentlemen & Lady Archers; 01325 730 528
Army Cadets - Neasham Road; 01913 882 351
Athletics - Harriers & Athletics Club; 01325 252 834
Basketball - Dragons Junior Basketball Club; 01325 254 370
Beavers - age 6 & 7; 08450 946 370
Biking - Darlington Cycling Campaign; 01325 287 696
Biking - Darlington Freewheelers; 01325 356 226
Bowling - Indoor bowling; 01325 485414
Boxing - Boxing & Martial Arts Academy; 01325 369655
Cricket - Cricket Club 01325 250 044 or 07876 707 605
Cricket - Railway Athletic Cricket Club; 01325 357 053 or 07733 315 376
Cubs - age 8 to 10½; 08450 946 370
Dance - The Tiffany School Of Dance; 01325 354 693
Disability - Community club Mencap; 01325 350 078
Drama - Stagecoach; 01325 337 667
Exercise - Melanie Hutchinson Community Exercise Classes; 07751 067 455 or 01325 258 399
Fishing - Jubilee Lakes; 01388 772 611
Flying - Teeside Flight Centre; 01325 332 752
Football - 21st Allstars Juniour Football Club;
Football - In the Community; 01325 387 019 or 07790 015 410
Gliding - Gliding Club; 01845 597 237
Golf - Blackwell; 01325 462 088
Golf - Darlington; 01325 355 324
Golf - Stressholme; 01325 353 073
Gymnastics - Gymnastics Club; 01325 241 339
Hockey - Hockey Club; 01325 241 264 or 07946 662 314
Hockey - Hockey; 01325 464745
Horse riding - Darlington and District Riding Club; 01325 377 484
Judo - Koizumi Judo Club; 01325 253 983
Karate - Kobukan Karate Club; 01325 259 218
Kurling - New Age Kurling Club; 07986 711 794
Lasses - Simply Lasses; 01325 380 485
Lasses 'n' Lads - Spraire Lads and Lasses; 01325 253 581
Motor biking - Croft Motor Racing Circuit; 01325 721 815
Music - Band & Musical Institute; 01325 466 729
Netball - Junior Netball Club; 07775 760 352
Orienteering - Orienteering Club; 01287 624 521
RAF Cadets -Neasham Road; 01347 848 261
Rugby - Rugby football club; 01325 363 777
Running - Quakers Running Club; 01740 630 069
Running - Running Club 01325 241 626
Scout - Network age 18 to 25; 08450 946 370
Scouts - age 10½ to 14; 08450 946 370
Scouts - Explorer Scouts age 14 to 18; 08450 946 370
Shooting - Darlington Rifle and Pistol Club; robin@drapc.co.uk
Snooker - Darlington Snooker Club; 01325 241 388
Snooker - Rileys; 01325 482 848
Swimming - Amateur Swimming Club and Diving Club; 01325 482 551
Swimming - Swimmers of all ages and abilities; 01325 254 370
Tennis - Tennis Club; 01325 381 954
Training - Training & Accreditation; 01325 346 296
Volleyball - Volleyball Club; 01325 356 936 or 01325 254 111
Walking - Walking, Rambling and Hiking; 01325 482 559
Youth Work - Street Based Youth Work; 01325 362957

Aeres said...

It's all interesting stuff. However, there's one point that I think is missing somewhat.

I'm 35 years old and once or twice a week I go to the pub with my mates to have a drink, meet up and just generally chew the fat with them. We're not actually 'doing' anything - just socialising generally.

Whilst I appreciate the fact that Mark's got everything from archery to gliding on his list the one thing that is missing is the place where you can do nothing but meet up with your mates. This is presumably the function that the ubiquitous corner shop fulfils at the minute.

Of course I realise that alcohol can't be brought into the equation legally, but maybe just an area where kids can meet up and hang out without been moved along all the time would pay dividends for everybody?

Ian White, Volunteer said...

Talking about Hurworth here, When you do things for them there is still a handful that will spoil it and then people who volunteer are threatened etc and then the police dont turn up and then the volunteering stops,the "good kids" dont want to come anymore yet its the same few again and again, Please dont tell me their parents dont know, everyone else in this village does!
The dimise of Hurworth Grange Yoth Club AGAIN!!

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab said....

Well said aeres. Young people need somewhere to go where they can meet their mates.

A local authority,I forget where, introduced youth shelters where young people could meet which is an excellent idea.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, everyone.

Mark - that list's fantastic. Maybe our LibDem friends could promote all the activities available in their next Focus..? ;)

Seriously, I see from your excellent harrowgatehill website that there's a rave event at Longfield School this Friday for young people at the school. Alan's right that we have to remain ambitious, and the Council is working closely with the school as it bids for improvement works, which will of course include sports facilities, given its status.

As for 'shacks' where young people can hang out - yes, I'm sure they have been tried elsewhere. The problem is, as you can imagine, where to put them. We have looked at them before, but met with strong local objections. Yet if they're too remote, understandably young people will be reluctant to use them.

Welcome to my world....

cllr. mark burton said...

Thanks Nick.

Alan, the fundamental problem is; if you keep telling kids they ARE ugly... eventually they�ll believe it.

And everyday �falling off the lips� of adults talking to children from 4 to 16 is; there�s nothing for them to do� and guess what, they believe it.

ian holme said...

aeres is spot-on!
Whilst Cllr Burtons extensive list is all very laudable, they mostly involve sport and/or signifcant financing and parental support.

Like it or not, most young people actually like the same as us more "mature" types....ie having somewhere to socialise with friends.

I know i have made this point before, but the Top Deck enterprise near the Civic Theatre is an excellent example of what can be done. Basically a no-alcohol pub type of accommodation where local young people can meet, have a drink (soft!) game of pool etc. They can spend as much or as little as they have available to them. No dictatorial rules, simply an expectation of a certain standard of behaviour.

I these standards are not met, procedures are laid down which are known.
One full time organiser and a good number of enthusiatic helpers have made this a success over a number of years.
Surely this sort of model could be rolled out across the borough?

Nick, perhaps in your new role you would like to visit to see this in action? I am sure this can be arranged if so wish.

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks, everyone.

As an update, Ian, Cllr. Chris McEwan (lead member for Children's Services) and myself will be visiting Top Deck next week. Many thanks again for bringing it to our attention.