Many residents have recently rightly raised concerns about anti-social behaviour incidents and drug use in Ripley Town Centre. So, I recently set up a public meeting for residents to attend and discuss their concerns with the relevant local agencies, including the local police, councils, councillors and charities.
I chaired a panel including the local police sergeants, community safety team at the Borough Council, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, and local County, Borough and Town Councillors.
The meeting took the form of a question and answer session, and there were around 150 residents and local business owners who came along. A wide range of the current issues and concerns were discussed, including drinking in the Market Place, urinating in public spaces, burglaries, CCTV, drug use, whether offenders are local residents or not, night club opening times, key problem areas/hotspots and the potentially illegal sale of alcohol to minors or people already under the influence.
From these issues, the Council highlighted that they’re currently in the process of extending their public space protection order to include the Greenway (which would make it an offence to drink there); they agreed to look into licensing reviews in light of concerns raised over night clubs and alcohol; and they confirmed they would feedback concerns raised about specific streets/properties to housing associations and their environmental health/neighbourhood department.
In addition, the Police confirmed that they have increased foot patrols, have extra officers in the town, have increased the number of drunk and disorder convictions and are trialling dispersal orders in the town following their recent authorisation by Inspectors. They also stressed the importance of reporting drug dealing to Crimestoppers and 101, and of businesses/residents with CCTV providing any evidence to them.
One of the other key points was that residents who see any problems need to keep reporting incidents to the police, so that the crime numbers highlight the issues, and resources can be directed appropriately – as well as enabling the police to deal with the incident directly at the time.
If there are any concerns following an issue that has been reported to the police or the Council, please do get in touch with me on the usual details so I can pursue.
I hope the meeting offered concerned residents reassurance that the relevant agencies are fully aware of the issues, and action plans have been put in place. As many steps as possible are being taken to resolve the problems, and we need to give these a few months to fully take effect, but then if there are still concerns and issues, we’ll look to escalate things to a further meeting.