Extra PCSOs and home visits being used to target antisocial youths in Ramsgate and Margate

Targeting youths causing problems

Dispersal zones, home visits and extra PCSOs are bringing down the levels of antisocial behaviour by groups of youths in Ramsgate, according to Kent Police.

Speaking at a community safety partnership committee meeting at Thanet council last night (February 20) Sergeant James Ross said 17 dispersal zones, of between 24 and 48 hours, had been put in place in the town centre since last August to combat problem behaviour.

Incidents have included an assault on a member of staff at the town’s KFC as well as intimidation and threats.

Fifty-two young people had been spoken to, four arrested for breaching the dispersal zone and eight particular youths have been targeted with home visits, letters to parents and intervention plans.

Youth engagement officers

Sgt Ross (second from left) at a neighbourhood meeting in Ramsgate

Sgt Ross said: “The biggest situation of antisocial behaviour has been in the town centre around KFC, King Street and Queen Street.

“The plan there has been a two-prong approach. First are the dispersal zones of 24 and 48 hours, giving police and PCSOs power to disperse any antisocial behaviour problems occurring in the area. From that we are using new youth engagement officers to go and do home visits on problem makers.

“Eight particular youths have been focused on with the drawing up of intervention plans. It is not just about criminality, there is youth engagement and social services, home visits, letters to parents. The emphasis has been taking away kids’ anonymity as that is the biggest tool any anti socially disruptive child has.

“Visits at home to the parents include talking about housing, the situation they are in, and this has had powerful results.

“In Ramsgate we are seeing a gradual decline in antisocial behaviour calls.”

More PCSOs

Kent Police

Sgt Ross revealed the number of PCSOs, who now have the powers to enforce dispersal zones, had been increased in Ramsgate from three to seven with a designated community support officer for the town centre working alongside the beat officer.

Sgt Ross said: “We are seeing good progress. Policing in Ramsgate is very much focused on antisocial behaviour and the youths behind it.”

Work in Margate

The approach is also being used in Margate.

Kent Police’s district commander for Thanet, Chief Inspector Sharon Adley, told the meeting there had been two, back to back, dispersal zone orders in Margate this month due to reports of  young people were congregating, drinking alcohol, making threats of violence and causing criminal damage.

More than 20 children and teenagers, some as young as 12, were spoken to by Kent Police while those orders were in place with 14 formally told to move on.

A 12-year-old boy from Margate, a 13-year-old boy from Ramsgate and a 13-year-old boy from Margate all had their bicycles seized for riding recklessly in College Walk.

A 15-year-old boy from Margate and a 13-year-old girl from Broadstairs were arrested for breaching the dispersal order. The boy was then arrested on suspicion of possessing a bladed article in connection with a report of an altercation in College Walk.

‘Positive results’

Chief Insp Adley said: ”None of us want to stop kids being kids but when it gets to threats of violence that is a different matter.

“There are lots of different ways to try and reduce incidents and we have seen positive results.

“Kids causing antisocial behaviour are kids we need to educate in a number of different ways, through talking to parents, working through schools and sometimes using police powers.”

Councillors at the meeting were also told there are now four PCSOs in Broadstairs plus an officer covering the Westwood Cross area, including Northwood and St Peter’s, and new PCSOs would be working in Westbrook, Garlinge and Salmestone from the end of this month.