Important not to let celebrations get out of hand

Crowd watching fireworks and celebrating Bonfire Night. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Some people have marked 'Freedom Day' with fireworks - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Well, the day we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived. Some people have been calling it Freedom Day, and while I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, there is certainly a palpable feeling of excitement and relief in the air.

I’m referring, of course, to Monday, July 19, 2021 – the day the Government lifted (almost) all the legal restrictions on social contact.

Coincidentally, Monday also marked the start of the first ever Antisocial Behaviour (ASB) Awareness Week – something I, as the national APCC lead for ASB, am taking very seriously. 

Given the restrictions we’ve all been under since March 2020, it’s understandable that many people will want to celebrate their new-found freedom and enjoy the summer. But what we don’t want to see is these celebrations getting out of hand.

While some may think of antisocial behaviour as ‘low level crime’, it can be absolutely devastating for some people and communities. ASB can fall into several categories from littering, vehicle nuisance and street drinking, to begging, prostitution, trespassing and even the misuse of fireworks.

Residents told me through my last survey that ASB was their top concern. It is one of the reasons I was delighted to be named joint national lead for local policing for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners last Thursday (July 15).

Such behaviour can make people’s lives miserable and leave normal people feeling threatened or vulnerable while going about their business, so it’s important we do everything we can to both prevent and tackle it.

In terms of crime and policing during this period of unlock, I’m happy to say our office is contributing towards a safe and secure summer season. We have invested £350,000 in schemes across Devon and Cornwall that will help prevent antisocial behaviour among young people and create a safer night-time economy for all.

The money will fund more than 50 projects, which includes specific help in 18 late night hotspot locations throughout the South West, including Plymouth, Exeter, Barnstaple, Newquay, Falmouth, Paignton and Torquay.

Support is also being provided in a broader range of locations across Devon and Cornwall with £100,000 extra funding given to community safety partnerships to support projects to reduce antisocial behaviour by young people in public spaces.

The funding is supporting a variety of preventative projects including youth intervention and sports clubs, specialist night-time economy marshals, extra CCTV provision, radio systems to link key premises and ‘Street Angels’ to help safeguard vulnerable drinkers.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Devon and Cornwall and it’s easy to see why we are the number one domestic tourist destination in the UK.

It’s understandable that both locals and visitors will be wanting to make the most of their new-found freedoms and enjoy the summer. But it’s important this does not veer into criminality or behaviour that can make others feel threatened or vulnerable.

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