Dorset Police are taking steps to ensure that Bournemouth is a safe place to visit this summer.
An operation is underway to keep children safe and tackle violence, disorder and anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
Operation Fireglow has been in place for a number of years and involves Dorset Police working alongside a large number of teams at BCP Council to protect young and vulnerable people, while preventing violence, disorder and anti-social behaviour in the town. The operation began in April and will run throughout the summer months.
The initiative sees high-visibility patrols being carried out by Dorset Police and council staff in parts of the town centre where disorder and anti-social behaviour has been an issue in previous years, such as the gardens and beaches.
Where poor behaviour is identified, some early intervention measures will be carried out with the individuals involved in a bid to encourage them to change their behaviour.
If that is not possible, action will be taken. This ranges from issuing Section 35 dispersal notices ordering the individual to leave the area for a certain period of time, parents being called to collect their children and only if necessary, arrests will be made.
The Force and council are also carrying out consequence visits, which involves multi agency follow-up visits to young offenders identified during Operation Fireglow and their parents or carers.
The operation is also aimed at preventing violent crime by using high-visibility patrols as a deterrent and carrying out early intervention with young people to remind them of the consequences of their actions.
Inspector Darren Harris, of Bournemouth South Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Operation Fireglow is a multi-agency operation that involves a large number of teams within BCP Council, including social services and youth services.
“Young people congregate in large groups in the area and it is our job to make sure they are being looked after and do not come to harm.
“If someone is seen to be acting in an anti-social manner, officers or staff from the council will speak with the individual and point out the effects their behaviour has on the local community and environment. Often this is enough for the young person to change their behaviour, however, when this advice is disregarded, action will be taken.
“This year officers from our Safer Schools Team will be working with schools to highlight to young people and their parents or carers the effects anti-social behaviour can have on the local community, provide an understanding on the law around possession of knives and drugs and the consumption of alcohol in public places.
“Awareness will also be raised on the dangers associated with county lines, the signs to look out for that indicate a young person maybe involved and information on where they can go for help and support.
“We want parents and carers to fully appreciate the potential safety implications of groups of young people congregating in unsupervised areas late at night and without their parent or carer knowing where they are.
“We completely understand that the majority of young people in the area do not cause any issues and make their own valuable contributions to the community. However, by identifying the minority of individuals who do cause anti-social behaviour, we can put appropriate measures in place to prevent them from ruining our communities for the majority.
“Our priority is to make sure that people are safe while they are out in our town.”
As part of the Respect, Protect, Enjoy campaign, Dorset Police and partner agencies are continuing to ask people to respect others by behaving appropriately, protect the environment by not littering and having bonfires or BBQs in forests or on the heathlands while enjoying what Dorset has to offer.
Other tactical measures being carried out by BCP Council include additional CCTV cameras being installed and increased monitoring through the Multi Agency Command Centre, increased security presence and an increase in youth engagement hours as part of the summer resilience work. The council’s youth outreach will offer a daytime information, advice and guidance service from a location close to the gardens, while youth intervention services is also developing some sporting activities along the coast to help divert children away from harm.
Cllr May Haines, portfolio holder for Community Safety at BCP Council, said: “We are determined to give people a safe and enjoyable experience when visiting our area this year and we have put in place a significant package of measures working with our partners to make sure we are ready for the summer. We want visitors to come and leave with positive memories, and for our residents to have the confidence to come back out and enjoy all that their hometowns have to offer.
“As part of our Festival Coast Live we are putting plans in place, which will create a more ambient and family friendly atmosphere across our three towns; and this includes street entertainment and pop-up catering to really give our open spaces that feel good and safe environment that encourages more positive behaviours.
“We continue to work closely with Dorset Police supporting them with Operation Fireglow and, as part of our summer readiness commitment, we are putting in place additional security within the Lower Gardens during Friday and Saturday evenings and nights, and staff from our Children’s and Youth Services will also be present to engage with young people.”
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