How police plan to keep Doncaster safe over Bonfire Night and Halloween: Police column

Halloween and Bonfire night are just around the corner – and in the past that has meant an increase in demand for the police and a rise in anti-social behaviour, writes chief Supt Shaun Morley  

Over the years, what has been known as mischief night has been problematic, not just in Doncaster but across South Yorkshire, but we have worked hard to reduce these issues and the partnership approach has led to a real reduction in crime during the Bonfire and Halloween period.

A family safely enjoying bonfire night fireworks. Picture by Jane Coltman, JP

A family safely enjoying bonfire night fireworks. Picture by Jane Coltman, JP

And this year is no exception as we are ready to deal with the issue, with plans to provide diversionary activity for young people and therefore reduce the issues experienced by local communities..

We have a comprehensive operational plan. We will have neighbourhood staff on visible patrols across the borough at important times and dates, such as Saturday November 3 and Monday November 5.  Those are dates when we can reasonably expect an increase in demand on resources for our own service, as well as possibly the ambulance and fire service.

Neighbourhood teams will be very visible in our communities, and we have done a lot of work with the schools and other organisations who work with young people to educate them about the dangers of fireworks.

There will be diversionary activity running to make sure that there are things that young people can do to enjoy themselves on the night without causing problems for other people.

Alongside the local patrols and diversionary activity, there will also be a force-wide public order operation so we can respond with highly trained officers to any developing situation.

Shops need to be aware that we will be running test purchasing operation while fireworks are on sale, as well as running intelligence led operations when we are made aware of shops selling fireworks to children.

Shop owners should know that they should not be selling fireworks to children, and that they need to check identification if they are in any doubt.

Meanwhile, this week has seen the opening of the new Doncaster police tutor unit.

The tutor unit was something that we had in Doncaster 10 years ago, but was lost due to changes in the structure of the force.

But we have brought it back, and the first group of new officers to join arrived last week.

The idea is that rather than new officers going straight into response units, they are brought here initially for a tutored phase of periods of about 12 weeks in a protective environment, with an experienced tutor officer from the unit.

It means they can learn and debrief each incident without having to be called out on emergency responses. It is difficult to match officers’ development needs if they are called out frequently in response teams.

So we have re-instated the tutor unit to develop well-rounded officers .

They will be patrolling the town centre as part of their duties.

The town centre is one of our most significant challenges from a policing perspective and this will present new officers with some complex issues and challenges such as begging and use of the drug ‘spice’

The introduction of the tutor unit will also allow us to be more visible in the town centre.  Most of their training and development will be done in the town centre. It is a win-win situation because the trainee officers are developing in a protected environment, and also they are learning and developing while providing a visible and effective service in our town centre.

One of the issues we are now looking at in Doncaster is working with the prisons more effectively.

The four prisons in Doncaster create a significant demand for our police service, with around 100 reported crimes per month.

We have created a prisons board to work together and this is already helping to nurture a closer working relationship with the prisons

This closer relationship has, for example, meant that we are about to train prison officers from each prison in crime scene management and statement taking.

It will increase our capacity to manage investigations in prisons and therefore ensure we deal with the reported issues more quickly and effectively.