Cheshire East Council has signalled a crackdown on anti-social behaviour in Congleton town centre.
Warning notices have gone up in the town’s market areas of Princess Street as the council introduces new measures, including fines, to combat the problem.
The council and Cheshire police have continued to receive calls and complaints from local residents about anti-social behaviour from groups of young people gathering in the area with concerns about older teenagers encouraging drinking, the taking of so-called ‘legal highs’ and crime.
Following public consultation earlier in the year, Cheshire East Council agreed to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) to help tackle the problem. A breach of the order could result in a £100 fixed penalty or as much as £1,000 if followed by court action. The penalties apply to anyone over 16.
The order sets out a wide range of restrictions which, if broken, could lead to fixed penalty notices and/or police prosecution. Councillor Janet Clowes, cabinet member with responsibility for safer communities, said: “We continue to work closely with local police and Congleton Town Council to reduce anti-social behaviour in the town. We will always seek a range of options, especially where young people are involved – such as Operation Stay Safe, where we take young people home – or provide alternatives such as sport and recreation.
“However, some youngsters think they are above the law and continue to bother local residents, so we have no choice but to bring in measures to help us control their behaviour.”
Police and council enforcement officers will monitor the situation regularly. The conditions of this PSPO include:
- Not to consume alcohol or use drugs or substances known as ‘legal highs’;
- Not to use foul or abusive language;
- Not to use threatening behaviour; and
- To leave the area and not return within 24 hours, if requested to do so by an authorised police or council officer.
Inspector Penny Jones, of Cheshire police’s Congleton beat management team, said: “Princess Street market area has been subjected to anti-social behaviour by groups of young people for a number of years.
“Despite steps taken by police and other agencies, including enforcement, engagement and diversionary tactics, a number of young people continue to return, causing disruption and upset to residents and traders in the area.
“Sadly, this has led to the authorisation of the PSPO with strict conditions to be adhered to. The police will continue to patrol the area and anyone found breaching the conditions will be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice.”
PSPOs were introduced by government in 2014, as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. This gave local authorities more powers to take action on public land and any private land, which is open to members of the public. If you feel you are the victim of anti-social behaviour, or if you know of someone who is suffering anti-social behaviour, contact Cheshire police by calling 101 or, in an emergency, 999. If you wish to discuss any concerns about anti-social behaviour with the council, email the anti-social behaviour team at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0300 123 5030. More information about Public Spaces Protection Orders can be found on the council’s website via this link: https://bit.ly/2x1dlSt