Police operations target child muggers and drugs in well known Doncaster parks
We have had complaints about crime in some of Doncaster's best known parks recently - with some if this involving children, writes Acting Insp Liam Walters.
But the last few weeks have seen action to tackle the concerns which were raised, including a number of arrests.
After a number of reports of drug dealing in Westfield Park, in Balby, we sent out plain-clothed patrols out to the area. They saw two men acting suspiciously over those two days.
They were stopped and searched, but nothing was found. However, a search of the park recovered a bag containing over £290 in cash and 58 individual bags of drugs, which we believe to be spice.
The drugs and the money was seized and enquiries are ongoing.
We have also made a number of arrests following a number of robberies which had been reported in the Elmfield Park, which were said to have been carried out by school children.
We were alerted to the issue by the headteacher of one of the central neighbourhood area schools, who was concerned that their pupils were being the victims. They were being asked for their phones, and it was alleged that the phones were being taken off them.
Our CID colleagues have arrested three youths on suspicion of these robberies. All three were bailed for identification parades.
Away from the parks, in recent months we have had complaints about antisocial behaviour around the shops and leisure facilities at Lakeside, near Bawtry Road.
But now there are plans moving forward that we believe could make a big difference and reduce the problem which has been affecting businesses on that side of the lake.
The issues that have been reported in that area have mostly seen youths being a bit too loud, in a way that can cause alarm for some people. That has been low level nuisance.
But there have also been complaints of people begging, who are thought to have moved there after being displaced from the town centre by the crackdown which has been going on there for many months.
There is work going on at the moment with the businesses based out in that part of Doncaster. That has led to the setting up of a business community forum, which we have started to meet every month.
As a result of these meetings, some of the businesses have now signed up a scheme similar to one already operating in Doncaster town centre. It will give them radio units that allow them to contact our CCTV suite in the town centre. They are already used by the door staff at many venues in the town centre.
There is also some support for possibly bringing in a private security company, which would employ staff who would operate in the area wearing hi-vis, and would also have the same type of radio. They would be able to engage with the young people, and would be briefed by the police.
Hopefully that will prevent some of the issues arising, and we are hoping that the first of the radios will be distributed to businesses in that area this month. The possible security contract is an ongoing project that is not finalised yet.
It could identify any youths that are causing a persistent problem, and we would initially to look to speak to them and finding them other activities to take part in. If nothing else worked, we could look at punitive action.
With the issue of begging in that area, we would initially look to put people in touch with services that can help them, like the homeless organisation M25. If they will not respond, then we may have to issue a community protection notice. This would be a staged approach, where initially we would speak to them. Later on in the process it could lead to court action.
I am quite excited about what we are doing at Lakeside now. It is a fantastic place, a great location, and we must make sure that people can go there and have a good time without any antisocial behaviour tarnishing their experience.
We have also been continuing to roll out Smartwater in parts of Wheatley and Intake, to help reduce burglaries in the area. It involves security-marking property in the houses using a liquid with a unique formula for each property.
Car crime has been an issue recently, and I want to urge people not to leave items on display in the cars. We had a spate of break-ins in car parks in the town centre, but a police presence there has reduced the problem there. However we are still seeing cars broken into in the central neighbourhood. Don’t park your car and leave you phone, loose change or any valuables on display, and double check you have locked your car. Much of the car crime is entirely preventable by people ensuring their car is locked and that they’ve removed any items of value out of sight.