Efforts to tackle Welwyn Garden City’s antisocial behaviour are recognised by Chief Constable award

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:14 02 November 2018

From left to right: Chief Constable Charlie Hall, Inspector Sophia Adams, Welwyn Hatfield Council Community Partnership manager Matt Rayner and James Hurley, director of resources at Hertfordshire Constabulary, who presented the award.
Picture: Supplied by Herts Police

From left to right: Chief Constable Charlie Hall, Inspector Sophia Adams, Welwyn Hatfield Council Community Partnership manager Matt Rayner and James Hurley, director of resources at Hertfordshire Constabulary, who presented the award. Picture: Supplied by Herts Police

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Efforts to tackle antisocial behaviour in Welwyn Garden City have been formally recognised.

Towards the end of 2017, a rise in reports of antisocial behaviour in the Woodhall area prompted the creation of a plan to tackle the issue.

At the problem’s peak, police were receiving up to 30 calls a day from residents, business owners and visitors who were being affected by the behaviour of “a small minority of local young people”.

Welwyn Hatfield Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Sophia Adams and her team worked closely with partners including Welwyn Hatfield Council, community housing, community safety organisations and Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Youth groups were also included as the plans progressed.

Part of the plan included a Partnership Community Information Day, which aimed to gauge the opinion of the local people.

It became apparent that residents felt the shopping parade was unloved and that it was having a knock-on effect, as young people were using it as an area to congregate as there was nothing else for them to do.

Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd provided £19,000 to help fund outreach workers who oversaw a questionnaire asking the district’s young people what provisions they thought were missing, and a plan was formulated.

As a result, work is ongoing to redesign aspects of the parade and improved CCTV cameras have been installed.

Fire safety issues have been addressed and improved waste management steps have been taken.

Benches are being redesigned and anti-climb measures put in place to stop youths gaining access to the flats above the shops.

The partnership work between the police and various bodies has now won an award for the way antisocial behaviour has been tackled in Welwyn Garden City.

The Welwyn Hatfield Community Safety Partnership (CSP) was crowned the winner of the Chief Constable’s Problem Solving Award at the Chief Constable’s Annual Awards ceremony.

The CSP’s action has seen a 31 per cent reduction in antisocial behaviour between October 2017 and April 2018 compared with the previous year, and as a result demand on police resources has reduced.

Inspector Adams and Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Community Partnerships Manager Matt Rayner accepted the award on behalf of the CSP at the Hatfield House awards ceremony on October 16.

Inspector Adams said: “It was a great honour for myself and Matt to accept this award on behalf of everyone who has been involved in this problem-solving strategy.

“When dealing with issues such as antisocial behaviour, partnership working is absolutely vital and I have no doubt that we would not be where we are today without the help and support of all the stakeholders involved.

“Complaints to both the police and the council are at the lowest recorded level since before Christmas 2017, which is something to be celebrated.

“However we will not be complacent, and we are looking forward to building on the partnership’s success going forward.”

Councillor Bernard Sarson, executive member for community safety, said: “It is fantastic news that the Community Safety Partnership has been recognised for all the hard work they have done to tackle anti-social behaviour throughout Welwyn Hatfield.

“The partnership has used best practice and collaborative working to meet the challenge of antisocial behaviour, both in schools as well as on the streets.

“Work has included Paul Hannaford speaking at every secondary school in the borough to help educate and deter young people from getting involved in antisocial behaviour, and setting up regular activities for young people to get involved in, including Friday Night Kicks.

“Our work to tackle antisocial behaviour in the borough continues with our new Positive Pathways project, which focuses on early intervention with young people in both Welwyn garden City and Hatfield, working with their families to signpost them to the right support.”

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