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Police prepared to use special powers to deal with gangs of up to 40 youths causing antisocial behaviour in Doncaster village: Insp Dan McKnight column

We are prepared to use to use special police dispersal powers to stop a surge in antisocial behaviour in Conisbrough involving gangs of up to 40 youths, writes Insp Dan McKnight..  

This was raised as a problem in a community meeting, and we are aware that it is an issue in the area. 

Conisbrough is having issues with large congregations of youths, up to 30 or 40 people gathering. Where Old Road meets Church Street, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-29-09-18-Conisbrough-2

Conisbrough is having issues with large congregations of youths, up to 30 or 40 people gathering. Where Old Road meets Church Street, pictured. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP-29-09-18-Conisbrough-2

We are seeing large congregations of young people right in the town centre. These groups are of up to 30 or 40 people, mostly around the multi-use games area where Old Road becomes Church Street, in a nearby field and also right in the centre of Conisbrough.

We are working on an action plan in conjunction with Doncaster Council, and we are looking to identify groups of individuals to take multiagency action.

What has been disappointing is is that when we have taken action and taken individuals home to their parents, we have not had the support we would have liked.

Some have said their children are not the ones involved in the trouble, and we should be dealing with someone else. But if we take a child home, then it is for a reason, and the parents need to listen to what the police constable or community support officer is saying, to help us sort the problem.

Sam Siddall, of Edlington Community Organisation, Maureen Tennison, of Edlington Royal Tenants and Residents Association, Lynn Brookes, of Edlington Community Organisation, Insp Dan McKnight, Council officer Steve Thomas, and council officer John Davies, at Edlington Police Station. PIcture: David Kessen

Sam Siddall, of Edlington Community Organisation, Maureen Tennison, of Edlington Royal Tenants and Residents Association, Lynn Brookes, of Edlington Community Organisation, Insp Dan McKnight, Council officer Steve Thomas, and council officer John Davies, at Edlington Police Station. PIcture: David Kessen

Parents need to ask three important questions: 

*Where is your child?

*Who is your child with?

*What are they doing?

If you don’t know the answer to those questions there may be a problem.

Not all these people may be individually responsible for antisocial behaviour, but they are contributing to it by being there..

Cars, including police cars, are having apples, conkers and eggs thrown at them. Youngsters have been running into the road playing tag.

There have been traffic cones thrown about and there has been threatening and abusive behaviour aimed at members of the public. Youths have been kicking the shutters on shops.

We will use all the powers available to us to deal with this, including dispersal orders under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. That allows us to take a designated area like Conisbrough town centre, and if we believe you’re causing antisocial behaviour, we will disperse you for 48 hours.

We don’t want to criminalise children, but if there is criminal activity we will act.

There has also been antisocial behaviour in Denaby, but this is not solely in a certain area, but in various different locations.

We are looking to gather names of those involved, and will work with Doncaster Council to deal with it

This is happening at the same time as we are seeing an issue with off road motorcycles and scooters in Conisbrough.

They are often riding with a hood, and without a helmet, and that makes it more difficult to see who they are.

These are being ridden by youngsters who are not old enough for a licence and have no insurance, so we want to keep them off the roads.

We are taking action over this. We have confiscated bikes from people's home addresses and on the streets. 

Some of the bikers we have encountered have been arrested for other issues, after we have stopped them. One rider was stopped by our off-road bike team and was arrested for possession of drugs, as well as having his bike seized.

That is work we are continuing with.

We are also continuing to work in Edlington to deal with ongoing problems that it has seen, and we now have set dates on which we are opening Edlington Police Station to the public, so they can drop in and speak to us and other agencies.

It is open from 10am until 3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are also trying to engage with the public at drop-in sessions in the community.

We are sending officers into primary schools along with fire officers and council officers to talk to children about crime and consequences, and respecting other people.

We want to make sure children get the message at an early stage, and to make sure young people find police officers approachable.

But we have seen criminal damage on the Royal estate in recent weeks. We arrested two adult makes after windows were smashed . We want to make sure that that this does not become a longer terms issue.

With Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night coming up, we are looking towards Operation Anticipate – a programme of diversionary activities for youngsters to help keep them out of trouble at a time of year which has traditionally been associated with antisocial behaviour.

We will be working with Doncaster Council, Expect Youth and Epic as well as local community groups to provide activities. Look out for details in the coming weeks.

We have also held more police forums on Facebooks, with the last one reaching 2,921 people. We will hold another in the middle of October.