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Anti-social behaviour and drug hotspot area in Arbury, Cambridge, targeted by Community Safety Partnership

An anti-social behaviour ‘hotspot’ in Cambridge’s Arbury ward - blighted by drugs, aggression and theft - is among the areas that have been successfully targeted following investment in the county’s Community Safety Partnerships.

It follows reports of people gathering in communal spaces in the ward, such as bin storage areas and by garages, to use drugs, which led to needles and other paraphernalia being left on the floor - and evidence that people were urinating and defecating in the area several times a week.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough police and crime commissioner Darryl Preston
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough police and crime commissioner Darryl Preston

There were also reports of theft from local shops, evidence of rough sleeping and both residents and retailers reported being subjected to verbal abuse, aggression and intimidation with threats of violence.

The location was identified as a hotspot area by the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) - one of six in the county that was given a £730,000 funding boost by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough police and crime commissioner, Darryl Preston.

The investment was designed to roll out a raft of crime prevention measures tackling public priorities and step up the response to anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and issues around road safety.

The CSPs - comprising local partners including councils, police, the fire service and community representatives - are also working to divert young people from offending in the first place and prevent nuisance behaviour escalating into more serious crime.

Part of the funding has paid for ‘problem-solving co-ordinators’ for three years to work with communities and partners to resolve issues, while helping the PCC meet the priorities set out in the Police and Crime Plan.

CSPs can also apply for a grant of up to £5,000 for specific initiatives to alleviate issues around anti-social behaviour, road safety, bike theft and fly-tipping.

In Arbury, the CSP realised a partnership approach was needed to tackle the issues and arranged a monthly multi-agency meeting that brought agencies together to focus on the hot-spot area.

The partners said forming stronger working relationships helped ensure actions were picked up by responsible agencies – such as the city council’s anti-social behaviour team or police.

The move has been credited with swiftly leading to a “significant decrease” in the number of individuals misusing the area and renewed confidence among retailers and residents.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough police and crime commissioner Darryl Preston
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough police and crime commissioner Darryl Preston

A redeployable CCTV camera was installed for three months and residents have reported falling levels of anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder

The PCC said: “The success of this project speaks for itself and is just a snapshot of the positive work under way by our CSPs to respond effectively to the localised and persistent problems that cause real concern for residents.

“The police cannot tackle these issues alone, and this investment recognises that partnership working is crucial to delivering a meaningful impact on public safety. When communities stand united against crime and ASB, the solutions are much easier to identify and implement and deliver maximum value.

“I am grateful to all our CSPs and wider community partners for embracing this opportunity and working harder than ever to protect local people and respond swiftly to the issues that cause them harm. Crime prevention is a key pillar in my Police and Crime Plan.

“The challenge now is to keep up the good work and build on the foundations of this positive start to achieve our longer-term ambitions.”

Cllr Alice Gilderdale, executive councillor for community wealth building and community safety at Cambridge City Council, said: “We're grateful for funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner which enables us to build on our work with local partners and the community to improve community safety. The funding enables us to have a dedicated problem-solving co-ordinator, who has been a fantastic help to bring people together within their communities to identify issues and deliver place-based solutions.

“This year our problem-solving co-ordinator's work has also ranged from anti-social behaviour education campaigns - whether in libraries, on buses, or in public spaces - to supporting local groups and partner agencies to apply for PCC funding, such as for taxi marshalls to support people in the city centre at night, cycle marking kits to tackle bike thefts, and funding for CCTV cameras. We're also grateful that the council is also able to match-fund much of this work."

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