Action over concerns about warm weather bringing in more town centre yobs

Police and council officials are meeting to set up an action plan to deal with a possible rise in town centre nuisance over the summer.

Wednesday, 23rd May 2018, 9:12 am
Doncaster town centre

Officials are concerned that the warmer weather will see more beggars and antisocial groups hit the streets of the town centre, which has strict rules designed to prevent antisocial behaviour.

Some businesses have raised concerns of a rise in the numbers over the last few weeks.

Pat Hagan, who runs Doncaster Council's complex lives team, which works to help get beggars and rough off the streets and into accommodation said :"We've met with police and we're putting together plans around when the weather gets warmer and draws people in. We're planning to reshape resources, although we don't have extra people to put in."

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Town centre businesses have raised concerns that there are still groups of beggars and homeless people in the town centre in the evening, and have said they have had difficulties reporting the issue through Doncaster Council's special app.

Mr Hagan said it was not yet job done, as there were still people coming into the town centre and causing nuisance, and there were new people being seen on the streets..

He said since a Public Space Protection Order was put in place in November to stop nuisance behaviour in the town centre, police or council offers had approached people 3,257 times to tell them their behaviour was not acceptable. There had been 303 referrals to specialist support service to help people deal with social problems.

The have been 125 fixed penalty fines issues and 108 dispersal orders to force people to leave the town centre because of their behaviour.

He added four people had been sent to prison in recent weeks because of serious antisocial behaviour in the town centre, but that was not for offences that were under the auspices of the PSPO. They included a serious incident on Printing Office Street.

Meanwhile, he confirmed action had been taken against a gang of teenage girls on bikes which had been reported as causing problems earlier this year, around the Frenchgate Centre, the transport interchange, and the tunnels near B&M.

Seven of the group have been handed acceptable behaviour contacts, which involve their parents agreeing to guarantee their behaviour is acceptable.

There around 12 to 15 rough sleepers in Doncaster at present, with 56 currently in hostels.

Mr Hagan advised anyone who was struggling with the council's app to report incidents online with the police or call 101.

Insp Lynne Lancaster, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We are aware that concerns have been raised around begging and homelessness in the town centre.

“By working with our partner agencies to implement a Public Space Protection Order last November, we have been able to provide specialist help to those in need and address local issues.

“As well as enhanced patrols, the Public Space Protection Order allows officers, as well as partners, to enforce conditions related to antisocial behaviour, including aggressive street begging.

“It also forms part of our Streetsafe briefing - an initiative which focuses on the night-time economy.

“We hope that working in partnership we can effectively address issues surrounding begging in the town centre.

“Our focus remains protecting vulnerable people, engaging with members of the public to understand local concerns and working to create and happy and safe environment for everyone to live in.”