Advice from the Police as half term approaches

Make it a trouble-free half-term break for school kids 🏫

Many youngsters will be enjoying a half-term holiday away from school next week – but others will still be in the midst of exam stress.

Either way, we can all take responsibility to ensure that young people are safe and stay out of trouble.

Without a doubt, most young people are well-behaved and act responsibly when they’re away from school. But we’re asking parents and carers to make sure, by knowing know where their children are and what they’re up to next week.

Our Neighbourhood Policing Teams have plans in place to respond to any reports of youth-related anti-social behaviour promptly and proportionately.

PCSOs in a park in Scarborough

Should you need to, you can of course report anti-social behaviour to us. You could call us, or save time and make your report online here: https://orlo.uk/h0wEi

With your support, we can ensure everyone stays safe! 👍

And if you live in York, then make sure you’re signed up to our ‘Be Informed’ service.

If our officers attend any antisocial behaviour incidents in your local area, parents and carers can receive an email and SMS alert to you can contact your children, check their whereabouts, make sure they’re okay and reassure yourself that they’re not involved in the incident.

To sign up, you need to join our North Yorkshire Community Messaging service (search this on our website) and then email: BeInformed@northyorkshire.police.uk with the following info:

➡️ Your full name

➡️ Your mobile number

➡️ The name of the area you live

➡️ The name/s of the area or areas your child frequents

We will let you know by email once we have added you to the scheme 👍

Crime trends in York – Should we be concerned?

York stats (does not include the area within City walls) click to access national site

There are growing concerns in some parts of York about growing levels of anti social behaviour and vandalism

Crime stats for the City – issued by Police UK – confirm that there was a sharp increase in crime reports during March.

The national figures (which haven’t yet been updated for April) disguise neighbourhood spikes in crime levels.

The position in Foxwood has been a well publicised issue since last November. Vandalism now seems to be spreading with attacks on buildings, parked cars, bus shelters and other public service infrastructure more common. Arson in public areas has been reported.

Several thousands of pounds worth of damage has been caused

Those identified as responsible are mostly teenagers although a younger age group now seems to be imitating their older peers.

So what is the cause and what can be done about it?.

Not surprisingly, people got used to a quiet life during the recent lockdown periods. The authorities weren’t prepared for the reaction that increasing freedoms brought. The problem became apparent Initially in the run up to Christmas and subsequently in the Spring when COVID restrictions were removed altogether.

Unfortunately some youths used their new freedom to commit crimes. They appear to have forgotten that there are behavioral boundaries.

There is now a lot of work for schools, the police and parents to do.

In the meantime the Council has to react to the new threat. Leisure polices should be reviewed. Clearly they are not addressing the “we’ve got nothing to do” excuse. Detached youth workers – last seen on the streets of York 10 years ago -should be reintroduced.

CCTV surveillance systems are now much cheaper to install. They should be deployed to protect individual homes and “hot spot” public areas. Escape routes such as snickets – typically used by criminals – should be temporarily closed. The Council must get back to re-letting empty properties within three weeks. It ensure that public infrastructure is robust and maintained in good condition.

Those responsible for the ASB (if they are Council tenants) should be moved on. This will require the support of local magistrates who must recognised the impact that ASB has on local communities. The Council will need to revisit its letting policies as clearly some mistakes were made during the pandemic period.

All this will require that York Council – and the Safer York Partnership to take a proactive role.

They could make a start by getting the problem on the agenda for a Council Executive meeting.

Swift action leads to five arrests in Foxwood

Swift action leads to five arrests in Foxwood

Officers have arrested five people following a disturbance at an address in the Foxwood area of York.

Police were called at just before 4pm yesterday (Tuesday 10 May 2022) to reports of youths causing problems in the street.

Several police resources were immediately sent to the area and in less than 10 minutes officers were at the scene. On arrival they were made aware of significant damage which had been caused to a property.

Five boys aged between 13 and 16 were arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage. They were taken to a local police station where they were interviewed about the offence.

They have since been released on police bail and enquiries are continuing.

Inspector Lee Pointon from the York outer Neighbourhood Policing team has commented on the arrests:

“The quick work from our officers yesterday has led to a positive result of five arrests. Foxwood remains a priority area and as this incident proves we will act on information that members of the public provide and where appropriate take action.

“The police understand the impact that this type of behaviour has on people’s lives and it is not acceptable. We will continue to do all we can to robustly deal with incidents of this nature so we can improve the quality of lives for the residents in the Foxwood area.”

If you have any information that could assist the investigation, please contact us by calling 101 and quoting reference number 12220079659.

If you’d rather remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Is York safe?

Crime levels in North Yorkshire have been below  the national average for many years. The rate reflects the largely rural nature of the county. But the figures do disguise some worrying trends,

A report being discussed to tomorrow considers the work of the Safer York Partnership. Anti social behaviour is listed as a priority of the agency but this is a growing issue in some sub urban areas.

The agencies report concentrates on the City centre (where, admittedly there are significant problems with alcohol fueled crime).

The report says, “Since all restrictions lifted, there have been no direct reports to Safer York Partnership about antisocial behaviour in the city centre and police data shows that the levels of incidents has been low. It is recognised that this may be partly due to changes in people’s drinking patterns, with more people staying at home, together with some nervousness about returning to normal patterns of behaviour whilst COVID levels still remain high”.

Extract from Safer York report April 2022

There is a short section on ASB generally.

A problem solving group was set up in the Foxwood area but has so far failed to stem  the volume of problems with Vandalism (Criminal Damage)

So what has gone wrong?

Most of the blame for the increase in ASB falls on teenagers. Some children have also been drawn in with the absence of behavioural boundaries a contributor.

During the pandemic, less thought was given by the  housing department to tenancy allocations with “problem families” being concentrated in particular estates. This, coupled with inadequate support facilities and leisure opportunities for teenagers, provided a breeding ground for crime.

Incredibly, the York Council exacerbated the position at the end of last year by failing to repair and protect empty property and  street furniture. As a result the damage increased.

The Police did – to their credit – increase patrols and several of the youths were identified. But court action has been ineffective and the York Council has failed to enforce the section of the Council house tenancy agreement which requires tenants to take responsibility for the actions of  people living in the property.

An attempt has been made to clean up several problem areas while the ward committee has funded a small number of “kick about sessions over the Easter holidays”

While some long term empty properties in Foxwood have since been boarded up, the Council has failed to re-let them quickly, adding to a feeling of urban= decline.

There is now evidence that the issue is spreading to a much larger area.

The York Council must bear most of the responsibility for what is happening as it has not responded positively to requests to;

  • Relocate a small number of problem families.
  • Install a CCTV cameras in vulnerable shopping areas
  • Allow tenants to install their own domestic security systems
  • Block off – at least on a temporary bases – snickets which are used as escape routes by criminals
  • Use its highway regulation powers, to require hedge/tree owners to cut them back from streetlights to avoid leaving “dark spots”
  • Provide detached youth worker support
  • Run a programme of “distraction” activities aimed at teenagers

More police foot patrols are needed in the evening and at weekends.

These and other initiatives will require a commitment from the “Safer York Partnership” and beyond it at senior level in the Council, The Police and Crime Commissioners office and other authorities.

Action taken in Foxwood

We’ve reported some issues for attention over the weekend.

Disappointing to see that the poop scoop bin on Chesney’s Field has been vandalised. Taken with damage to noticeboards, this rather confirms that anti social behavior is still an issue in some neighbourhoods

The access gates on some snickets in the Foxwood area – which were closed around 25 years ago – are now in need of replacement, Several have disappeared. More durable metal gates are needed together with regular maintenance. In most cases the snickets were not transferred into the ownership of adjacent properties because of the existence of underground services.

The defibrillator at the Foxwood Community Centre is currently missing. We understand that it has been removed for safe keeping following security issues.

We’ve asked for the tree at the entrance to Acomb Wood Meadow to be cut back from the Bellwood Drive public footpath

The Council is currently consulting on the removal of unnecessary street clutter and signs. Some street nameplate signs need improved maintenance.

We’ve asked for paths to be swept in the Vincent Way area

Tacking anti social behaviour

There has been an upsurge in vandalism in the Foxwood estate since November.

The police and local authority have been trying to address the issue both from an enforcement viewpoint and to try to put “diversionary” activities in place for the young people who are believed to be involved.

Progress has been slow with the Council (rightly) criticised for opposing plans to close, on a temporary bases, a snicket to the rear of one of the worst affected areas. Unfortunately vandalism has continued at two empty properties which are adjacent to the snicket. ..

As well as the snicket closure issue, the Director with responsibility for Council housing has been very slow to respond to requests that CCTV be installed at long term empty properties..

It is still taking several months to re-let Council houses when they become empty.

One of the Councils “scrutiny” committees is due to review this issue at its April meeting.

Empty Council houses are subject to repeated attacks

Some progress has been made elsewhere.

In order to improve illumination, the height of the hedge adjacent to the Acomb Wood Drive/Greenwood Grove snicket has been reduced. This is part of a plan to make local snickets less intimidating after dark. Work is still outstanding on the links between Spindle Close/Ashbourne Way and Walker Drive/Bradley Drive.

The obstruction to the footpath near 173/197 Askham Lane, which is not related to poor lighting, is also outstanding (as it has been for over 6 months!).

The Greenwood Grove snicket hedge has been reduced in height

Nearby, contractors, working for the Accent housing group, have been removing vandalised fencing today

Damaged fencing on Bellwood Drive
Damaged fencing in the Bellwood Drive/Spindle Close area has now been removed.

Action taken

Lots of issues reported today, some are the result of the recent gales (which are set to return over the next few hours)

Antisocial behaviour crackdown week on the Foxwood Estate in York

A dedicated partnership operation to combat a rise in antisocial behaviour within York’s Foxwood estate is underway.

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(Officers on high visability patrols on the Foxwood Estate)

Police are acting on the concerns of residents and are increasing patrols in the area. The week-long “intensification week” coincides with a national neighbourhood policing week of action and the York Neighbourhood Policing team wanted to prioritise their efforts on the Foxwood estate.

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(Acting Inspector Nick Plumb engaging with the manager of a local business)

The ongoing proactive operation was launched on Monday and has involved officers carrying out high-visibility and plain-clothed patrols, as well as engaging positively with youths, residents and businesses. Officers have patrolled in marked and unmarked vehicles and have even taken to traveling on local busses to help identify the offenders responsible.

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(Police Officer conducting a patrol on a First Bus that operates around the Foxwood Esate)

Dispersal powers have been used to deal with people causing issues, enabling police to order those people to leave the area and not return for up to 24 hours.

Police are also working with partners including the City of York Council and the Youth Justice Service to help tackle the wider problems. Community meetings, outreach days and education are part of the plans. This week Local PCSOs have delivered assemblies in Hob Moor primary school.

Acting Inspector Nick Plumb of the York Outer Neighbourhood Policing team said:

“The partnership operation is in response to concerns of local residents. Any behaviour which causes alarm or distress to any person is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Residents will see increased activity and engagement in the area over the next four weeks. We will be working with the residents association, businesses’, council and partner agencies to improve the quality of life for people within the Foxwood area. “

Council set to review Anti Social behaviour policies

The Council will discuss its anti-social behaviour (ASB)) policies when it meets next week. A report from the “Safer York Partnership” claims that anti-social behaviour has returned to pre COVID levels.

Click to view stats

The report says that lack of court activity and a ban on evictions had inhibited enforcement action during the Lockdown period.

That had now changed, and the report cites some apparent successes that the ASB “Hub” has had in some parts of the City.

The report may raise scepticism in some neighbourhoods. For example, the media has reported escalating ASB issues in parts of the Guildhall area.

There are also now well documented problems in the suburban Foxwood Lane estate where empty Council houses have been a target for vandals.

Thousands of pounds of damage have been caused by vandals to Council properties in York. The Foxwood Residents Association has demanded action in their area

The report lists several sanctions that can be applied to individuals (and, if juveniles, their parents )  that are involved in ASB. The report fails to say how many of the sanctions have been used in York during the last 12 months.

The report goes on to  list the number of reports that the Council had received about “environmental” crimes These include litter, fly-tipping, dog fouling, fly posting, waste storage etc, (click to view)

Council moves to secure vandalised property

The York Council has tried to secure the rear of an empty bungalow on Foxwood Lane. Earlier in the week social media posts had highlighted vandalism to the property which is likely to cost hundreds of pounds to repair.

31st Dec 2021

The property – and others in the area – have been empty for several months. The Council were urged to report and relet them quickly but several were left with inadequate security .

It is likely that a bill running into hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds -will now have to be paid out of the rent account.

The Council has failed to appoint an experienced Head of Housing. The last post holder left the Authority over 2 years ago. This may be the root cause of the decline in standards.

A Council report earlier in the year admitted that the management of Council housing in the City was in turmoil.

There has been no comment from either responsible officers or Councillors about the vandalism.

The local Residents Association has been critical of the recent decline in standards in the area. A meeting, organised by the police, is taking place early in the new year.

There are over 1800 people waiting to be allocated homes in York

The Council property, which is in a prominent location, had been allowed to decline over a period of 10 months.