To allow members of the public to address the Committee.
Mr Darron Abbott addressed the Committee and reported various incidents of anti-social behaviour at Garfit’s Lane open space, including drinking, substance abuse and an illegally parked trailer, and circulated photographs as evidence. Mr Abbott asserted that, despite there being CCTV in operation, neither the Police nor the Council took action to tackle these incidents and he had actually received threats.
Inspector Morrice then addressed the Committee and pointed out that Garfit’s Lane was not within the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) area and drinking alcohol was not a criminal offence. Within the PSPO area, the Police could ask a person who was drinking alcohol to hand it over; a criminal offence would only be committed if the person failed to do so.
In response to a Member’s concern about the powers of the Police being limited in this respect and in relation to parking, Inspector Morrice stressed that they did not have the legal power to do more and they should address any issues with respect to illegal parking to the authority with the power of enforcement, i.e. Lincolnshire County Council. The Police used their powers of enforcement where they could, but had to prioritise. Someone drinking a can of beer could not be treated as urgent. Substance abuse in a play area for small children was disturbing, but could not be treated as an emergency, which meant an immediate threat to life. Threats could be treated as an emergency and he would speak to Mr Abbott after the meeting on this matter.
A Member congratulated the Police on receiving a national award, which deserved publicity. Inspector Morrice explained that the award related to the work of the Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP), which was predominantly aimed at tackling under-age drinking. All off-licenses had signed up to the Challenge 25 scheme, with free training and resources, and two series of test purchases had resulted in failure for just one premise, which had had its licence revoked by the Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee. Further work on this was ongoing. In addition, they had carried out a lot of work educating young children in schools on the dangers of drinking involving AddAction, which one survey indicated had resulted in a reduction of weekly drinking among school children from 23% to 1.8%. It was hoped this would have a significant impact on the town as these children grew up.
A Member asked for an update on the Mini Police scheme. Inspector Morrice reported that the scheme, originally piloted in 2 schools, was now active in 119 in Lincolnshire, 9 of them in Boston, all primary schools. A 999 day had been held in August involving 70-80 children, raising approximately £2,000 for the Air Ambulance.
Various Mini Police projects were ongoing. Two hour sessions engaging schools were being held, with one hour of teaching and one hour in the community. One project involved people caught speeding who were given the option of paying a fine or being interviewed by one of the children; they found that the interview was not the easier option, being presented with challenging questions such as “how would you feel if you’d killed me?”
Scams were a significant issue currently and the children had carried out scams talks at Asda’s and Greyfriars were wanting them to go there. They would also be at the War Memorial on Remembrance Day. They were increasing so much in number that a limit might have to be introduced.
Members commended the Mini Police scheme. One reiterated the value of the attendance of the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner at a future meeting in order to discuss issues raised by the Committee.
In response to other questions, Inspector Morrice explained that issues raised by members of the public predominantly concerned street drinking and long-term solutions. Test purchases of cigarettes had not been carried out though the Police had searched a number of premises with Customs and Revenues.
With respect to the impact on the Police of leaving the Central Park gates open, Inspector Morrice reported that 100 incidents in the park had been reported in 2016; 69 had been reported in 2017; and 85 had been reported so far this year, around 10% of which had been after dark. These numbers did not give Inspector Morrice concerns; they were still below the number reported in 2016. The incidents had involved more minor offences, such as damage, nothing of major concern such as serious assault.
The Chairman thanked Inspector Morrice for his input.