Retail co-op hosts conference on tackle anti-social behaviour

A recent Co-op Secure Response survey revealed that 45% of businesses feel anti-social behaviour is a growing problem in Suffolk

Co-op Secure Response – part of East of England Co-operative – has co-hosted a conference on how to tackle anti-social behaviour in Suffolk.

Business from across the county were joined by Suffolk Constabulary, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce to share tips on how to respond to the challenge.

The Building Safer and Thriving Communities event brought together experts including Suffolk Constabulary’s superintendent Kerry Cutler; Design Out crime officer Lucy Mures; and Co-op Secure Response anti-social behaviour officer Scott Walker.

Supt Cutler said: “It’s really important people come forward when they’ve experienced antisocial behaviour and tell us what’s happened.

“When people report it, it helps us to make decisions about how to prioritise and deploy our resources. Our Safer Neighbourhood Team will also work in areas to help implement sustainable solutions for the whole community. However, policing alone will not solve crime and antisocial behaviour; it takes a partnership and the local community working together.”

High sheriff of Suffolk George Vestey added: “We are all part of the community and we all have to do our bit. Having more people who step up and become part of the force for good within the community and creating better links between partners will be the key in tackling anti-social behaviour.” 

Suffolk County Council’s locality officer in Ipswich, Claire Prosser, said one of the challenges in tackling anti-social behaviour is perception.

“We recently carried out a safety survey across Suffolk with students in Year 6, and what they told us is that they feel anxious about anti-social behaviour perpetrated by adults,” she told the conference.

“There is a big perception that anti-social behaviour is only carried out by young people and that is one of the challenges we face; understanding and differentiating between the perception and reality of anti-social behaviour.”

Scott Walker said being a co-op meant the business employed a different approach to the issue compared with other security firms.

“Firstly, we look at prevention and education,” he explained. “We work with the local community and show how people are affected by anti-social behaviour. We’ve also rolled out an interactive programme to all of our 5,500 employees, so they know how to deal with anti-social behaviour safely.

“The second element is response – we respond to incidents which are reported to us, we assist the police by gathering CCTV and pass on local information and intelligence to the Safer Neighbourhood Team.”

The co-operative’s third approach is restorative justice: “Once someone has committed an offence in one of our stores we work with them to show them the consequences of their actions, but we also turn it into a positive experience by showing them how they could fit into a business and the opportunities that are available to them.” 

Related: East of England Co-operative launches Co-op Secure Response

From Ipswich YMCA, accomodation manager Tash Wightman and programme manager Fiona Radnor talked about the work of the charity, which focuses on supporting young people either involved in or at risk of being subjected to anti-social behaviour.

The YMCA runs a 12-week educational programme that offers young people the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities, learn about being a positive part of the community and familiarise themselves with the laws around anti-social behaviour. The charity encouraged businesses attending the conference to offer apprenticeships and mentoring schemes to these young people or help by making donations of items such as stationery and toiletries.

A recent survey  by Co-op Secure Response revealed that almost half (45%) of businesses feel anti-social behaviour is a growing problem in Suffolk.

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