A police chief has insisted anti-social behaviour is not out of control in Chesterfield town centre – amid residents’ concerns about yobbish conduct.
In a special interview with the Derbyshire Times, Sergeant Dave Nicholls, the man in charge of the team which polices the town centre, said his officers do not see a lot of anti-social behaviour in the area.
His comments come as police figures show a 13 per cent year-on-year drop in the number of call-outs about anti-social behaviour in the heart of Chesterfield.
Sgt Nicholls said: “In my view, anti-social behaviour is not out of control in the town centre. We don’t see it a lot.
“I’m not saying it doesn’t happen but personally I don’t believe it’s a massive problem.
“Saying that, one incident of anti-social behaviour is one too many and we’ll do all we can to tackle it.
I want everyone to come here to enjoy this beautiful town and its facilities – but if you come here to create crime, we’ll do everything we can to make sure you can’tChesterfield Sergeant Dave Nicholls
“I want everyone to come here to enjoy this beautiful town and its facilities – but if you come here to create crime, we’ll do everything we can to make sure you can’t.”
Officers carry out daily patrols around Chesterfield town centre and are able to use various legislation to tackle cases of anti-social behaviour.
Currently the force is pressing for the courts to issue four individuals with criminal behaviour orders, which are aimed at dealing with the hardcore of persistent offenders.
If those orders are granted, the individuals could be slapped with a number of restrictions – including possibly being banned from entering Chesterfield town centre.
Over the last year, the Derbyshire Times has reported on a number of issues linked to anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre.
Earlier this month, Chesterfield Borough Council revealed it had closed the Garden of Fragrance on Rose Hill, near the town hall, after it apparently became a hotspot for yobbish behaviour and drug abuse.
Members of the public are no longer able to access the once serene location.
Councillor Chris Ludlow, the council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Unfortunately the garden had become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour – we believe due to illegal drug taking.
“The decision was not taken lightly – we do not enjoy closing off our green spaces – but the garden was suffering repeated damage which we had to put right using money raised in council tax.
“We will reopen the garden when we are satisfied it will be safe to do so.”
However, Sgt Nicolls said police had not received any reports of problems at the Garden of Fragrance and that he would be meeting with the council over the issue.
In April, vandals graffitied Chesterfield war memorial on three separate occassions.
The council used several hundred pounds of taxpayers’ money to remove graffiti painted on the memorial in front of the town hall – only for it to be defaced again.
Sgt Nicolls branded the vandalism ‘absolutely appalling’ and said police were continuing to hunt three teenage girls over the crime.
“That really got to me and I’d love to bring the offenders to justice,” he said.
The Derbyshire Times has also exposed concerns about alleged drink and drug-fuelled anti-social behaviour along New Beetwell Street and outside the Crooked Spire.
Sgt Nicolls said the area around the town hall, New Beetwell Street and the Crooked Spire’s grounds were ‘priority areas’ for police.
On the streets of Chesterfield this week, Dean Webster, of Brimington, said: “Whenever I come into Chesterfield town centre I see a lot of young people who are swearing and appear to be under the influence of drink or drugs. It’s very intimidating. I see police but they don’t seem to do a lot. I think the problem is getting worse.”
Matthew David, of Chesterfield, said: “I think anti-social behaviour is out of control in Chesterfield town centre. I know someone who works near the Garden of Fragrance and they said young people were drinking, smoking cannabis, using legal highs, listening to really loud music and generally acting in an anti-social way and intimidating people. Now it’s closed and apparently they’re gathering in the car park next to it. I think police should be moving them out of the town.”
Kate Gillibrand, of Brampton, said: “I was absolutely disgusted by the vandalism of the war memorial. What a lack of respect. I think there should be more for young people to do to keep them off the streets.”
Maria Williams, of Holymoorside, added: “I think Chesterfield is a lovely place. I don’t see a lot of anti-social behaviour and I feel safe here.”
The Derbyshire Times accompanied Sgt Nicholls and PC Stephen O’Callaghan on one of their patrols around the town centre. We didn’t see anbody causing any problems.
Sgt Nicolls said: “If people do see someone committing a crime, it’s so very important they tell us.”
Call police on 101 or report it at www.derbyshire.police.uk/contact-us/report-a-crime