Crackdown on Morecambe yobs steps up

Geoff Tagg.
Geoff Tagg.
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New powers to crack down on youth anti-social behaviour in Morecambe could be introduced.

A Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) may be granted in the town to give police and council officers more leeway to tackle problems in the town centre, Heysham Barrows and Happy Mount Park.

Happy Mount Park.

Happy Mount Park.

PSPOs are being introduced all over the country to tackle anti-social behaviour in specific areas and already apply to Lancaster city centre and Ridge Square.

Happy Mount Park has suffered many incidents of youth vandalism in recent years.

Geoff Tagg, lead anti-social behaviour officer for Lancaster City Council, said: “There are a lot of problems in the park with youths drinking and causing damage.”

Mr Tagg, a former police inspector, said there had been calls for the PSPO to include Torrisholme Barrow but “there wasn’t sufficient evidence”.

“People have been under-reporting anti-social behaviour there,” he said.

“And the problems with the Barrow haven’t been as bad this year.

“Issues in Bare and Torrisholme have been going on for a few years.

“There were around 200 kids, at the start of Easter, at the Barrow causing quite a bit of distress.

“But since we started putting interventions in place anti-social behaviour has started going down again.

“From last month we started a joint patrol with the police, one PCSO and one council officer going out and reporting problems. We’ve also been visiting off licences.”

Mr Tagg said girls aged 13-14 were found to be causing many of the issues over the summer.

“Teenage girls are the ones who had alcohol on them in those big handbags they have at the moment - that was an area of concern,” he said.

“If a 13-year-old gets drunk in town the parents will get a visit the next day. They will be asked to work with us. A lot of plans are being put in place.”

A report to Morecambe Town Council earlier this year said the main problem areas for anti-social behaviour were Bare, Happy Mount Park, Torrisholme Barrow, West End Gardens and the West End in general.

“The West End is different to Bare and Torrisholme in that there is a hardcore group of youths there causing the problems,” said Mr Tagg.

“We’re tackling the ringleaders.”

Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs), introduced in 2014, help tackle anti-social behaviour locally and are aimed at ensuring public spaces can be enjoyed free from anti-social behaviour.

A PSPO can last for up to three years, after which it must be reviewed.

There has been criticism towards PSPOs from human rights groups who say they allow councils to criminalise particular, non-criminal, activities taking place within a specified area and that they have been used to limit freedom of speech and the right to protest.

A public consultation period on the proposed PSPO in Morecambe closed in August.

A Lancaster City Council spokesman said: “The consultation responses for the Morecambe and Heysham Public Spaces Protection Order are currently being considered with a view to reporting to Cabinet in the new year.”

Mr Tagg gave an update on anti-social behaviour in Morecambe to the Morecambe Town Council community safety meeting at the War Memorial Cafe on Thursday night.

Meanwhile police are also tackling reports of young people causing nuisance near Heysham Primary Care Centre on Middleton Way.

A post by Morecambe Area Police on its Facebook page said: “They have been intimidating staff when they leave and there has also been glass smashed in the rear car park.

“We will be checking the centre on a regular basis and we will be looking to take action against anyone caught behaving in an anti-social manner. We do already have details of some who have been involved and they will be visited.

“This building and its staff provide a valuable service to us. Please have some respect and leave them to get on with it in peace.”