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Suffolk businesses given advice on tackling anti-social behaviour

(Back Row L-R: Tash Wightman, YMCA; Lee Hammond, Co-op Secure Response; George Vestey, High Sheriff of Suffolk; Scott Walker, Co-op Secure Response; Fiona Radnor, YMCA; and Claire Prosser, Locality Officer at Suffolk County Council) (Front Row L-R: Superintendent Kerry Cutler; host Jonathan Wills, Presenter of ITV News Anglia at 6pm; Alison Newbon, Youth Justice Service; and Design Out Crime Officer, Lucy Mures) – © Co-op Secure Response/Rob Howarth

Experts from Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and Co-op Secure Response joined forces for the first Building Safer and Thriving Communities conference

Report it, work together and be part of the solution – these are the tips over 100 Suffolk businesses and community organisations have been given this week to help tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and keep their communities safe and thriving places to work and live.

The businesses were attending the Building Safer and Thriving Communities conference at Wherstead Park in Ipswich, an event organised by Co-op Secure Response in partnership with Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Attendees were given advice and cost-effective solutions on tackling anti-social behaviour from experts including Suffolk Constabulary’s Superintendent Kerry Cutler and Design Out Crime Officer, Lucy Mures and Scott Walker, Anti-social Behaviour Officer at Co-op Secure Response. The High Sheriff of Suffolk, George Vestey and Suffolk County Council’s Locality Officer, Claire Prosser also shared their thoughts on holistic approaches to tackling ASB.

Speaking at the conference, Superintendent Kerry Cutler said: “It’s really important that people come forward when they’ve experienced antisocial behaviour and tell us what’s happened. When people report it, it helps us to make decisions about how to prioritise and deploy our resources. Our Safer Neighbourhood Team will also work in areas to help implement sustainable solutions for the whole community. However, policing alone will not solve crime and antisocial behaviour; it takes a partnership and the local community working together.”

High Sheriff of Suffolk, George Vestey added: “We are all part of the community and we all have to do our bit. Having more people who step up and become part of the force for good within the community and creating better links between partners will be the key in tackling anti-social behaviour.”

Suffolk County Council’s Locality Officer in Ipswich, Claire Prosser, also explained that one of the challenges in tackling anti-social behaviour is the perception of it. She said: “We recently carried out a safety survey across Suffolk with students in Year 6, and what they told us is that they feel anxious about anti-social behaviour perpetrated by adults. There is a big perception that anti-social behaviour is only carried out by young people and that is one of the challenges we face; understanding and differentiating between the perception and reality of anti-social behaviour.”

Businesses also heard about how Co-op Secure Response is working to reduce incidents of anti-social behaviour, as well as the ways in which local businesses can play an active role in building safe and thriving communities.

Scott Walker, Anti-Social Behaviour Officer from Co-op Secure Response told the audience: “We approach anti-social behaviour in a completely different way to other security businesses. Firstly, we look at prevention and education – we work with the local community and show how people are affected by anti-social behaviour. We’ve also rolled out an interactive programme to all of our 5,500 employees, so they know how to deal with anti-social behaviour safely.

“The second element is response – we respond to incidents which are reported to us, we assist the police by gathering CCTV and pass on local information and intelligence to the Safer Neighbourhood Team. The third approach is restorative justice – once someone has committed an offence in one of our stores we work with them to show them the consequences of their actions, but we also turn it into a positive experience by showing them how they could fit into a business and the opportunities that are available to them.”

Meanwhile Tash Wightman, Accommodation Manager and Fiona Radnor, Programme Manager at the YMCA in Ipswich, shared details of the charity’s Positive Behaviour Project which supports young people either involved in or at risk of being subjected to anti-social behaviour. The project offers young people the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities and learn about being a positive part of the community, diverting them from negative behaviours and setting them on the right path. The 12-week educational programme also highlights the effects both positive social and anti-social behaviour has on members of the community and teaches young people the laws around anti-social behaviour.

Businesses at the conference were encouraged to support the YMCA by offering apprenticeships and mentoring schemes to the young people the charity works with, or through the donations of items such as stationery and toiletries.

This year’s conference came after a survey commissioned by Co-op Secure Response revealed that almost half (45%) of businesses felt anti-social behaviour is a growing problem in Suffolk. The survey also found that:

  • More than a quarter (26%) see anti-social behaviour as a ‘very big’ or ‘quite a big’ problem
  • Two fifths (41%) of businesses in Suffolk have experienced anti-social behaviour in the last year
  • More than a quarter (26%) don’t report ASB

Advice and information shared at the conference, as well as useful contacts for reporting anti-social behaviour, can be found at: www.secureresponse.coop/community.

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