Being a victim of ASB can leave people feeling intimidated, angry, vulnerable and frustrated. But the good news is that, according to the latest figures, ASB in Wigan Borough is down by 25 per cent. Wigan Borough’s Building Stronger Communities Partnership (BSCP) is at the forefront of tackling ASB and its got a whole bagful of tools at its disposal. And with summer here, it's important that the council and its partners strike the right balance, particularly when dealing with youth-related ASB. Borough Life looked at some of the good work that’s taking place across the borough and found out more about some of the recent success stories.
Building Stronger Communities Partnership
When it comes to tackling antisocial behaviour, we’re no one-trick pony, according to Cllr Kevin Anderson.
He's the council's champion for safer communities. “Our methods are diverse and wide-ranging. In old-fashioned speak, it's very much the carrot and stick approach. We believe in creating positive opportunities for young people, identifying problems early and taking the appropriate action.”
He adds: “It’s too easy to think that young people are the cause of ASB but that's just not the case. The truth is that 70 per cent of the ASB in our borough is caused by adults.
However, we do recognise that there are a small number of young people whose behaviour is just not acceptable. But we have had some real successes in tackling this. The key to it is that we are working with young people, offering them opportunities to get involved with their communities, learn new skills and build up their confidence.
Where necessary, we encourage young people who have been in trouble to make amends and think about what they have done. With the figures for ASB on the decline, it’s an approach that is clearly paying off.”
There are more than 28,000 young people in our borough and each year they can enjoy thousands of hours of positive diversionary activities laid on by partner agencies. The Safe4Summer campaign is back soon, when partners organise loads of activities so young people can have fun, keep out of trouble and stay safe.
l Want to know what’s going on in your area? Visit: Wigan Council - Safe 4 Summer (external link) or go to Linc Online (external link)
Since 2009, there have been more than 12,000 registered attendees taking part in events and activities as part of the Nowt2Do? project, including dance, drama and sport. The scheme, led by Greater Manchester Police, rewards good behaviour and is described by young people as ‘brilliant’.
Did You Know?
Last year, Wigan Council's Youth Service worked with more than 8,000 young people, many of whom achieved awards and qualifications as well as having a great time! Also,in 2010, a summer sports project in Mesnes Park in Wigan, called Operation Windburn, cut complaints of ASB by 75 per cent compared to the same period in the previous year.
The Learning Curve
YOUNG people and alcohol don’t mix.
That's why much of the work taking place in Wigan Borough is about preventing children from getting hold of drink. For example, the council’s Trading Standards’ team carries out hundreds of inspections and test purchases each year to prevent shops and off-licences selling alcohol to the under 18s.
Meanwhile, Operation Staysafe is a joint operation between the police and the council which sees officers patrolling ASB hot spots, confiscating alcohol, giving advice on health and personal safety, and ensuring those at risk get home safely.
Did You Know?
If you’re caught buying alcohol for someone under 18 you could be facing a sobering £5,000 fine.
No smoke without...
Firefighters in Wigan have been putting young people through their paces.
More than 800 young people took part in special courses last year to learn more about life as a firefighter.
Although anyone could attend, some of the courses were primarily aimed at those who had been involved in fire-related ASB.
l Want to know more? Visit: Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (external link)
THERE is a small number of young people who keep getting into trouble.
But that doesn’t mean we have to turn them into criminals.
When it comes to owning up and accepting responsibility for what you have done, the council and its partners find that giving young people the chance to put things right really works. Seeing what impact their crimes have on their victims and then giving them the chance to say ‘sorry’ isn't the easy option but it can be the best. The victims get a say in how justice is done and this is usually something that benefits the entire community. And in putting the damage right the young people can also learn valuable new skills and build self-esteem. All without getting a criminal record.
Did You Know?
Wigan Council’s Youth Offending Team has consistently beaten national targets for driving down the number of young people entering the criminal justice system. Since 2005/2006, we’ve seen a 67% drop in first time entrants and a 29% drop from last year alone.
The fact that there are fewer young people entering the criminal justice system means that the council, police and others can focus their attention on the small minority who commit the most serious offences.
“We understand the need to reassure the community that we take ASB seriously and deal with offenders appropriately,” says Cllr Anderson. “And our aim is to do this without stigmatising the majority of young people.”
There are a number options available, including Anti-Social Behaviour Orders and the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme. ISS is one of the most effective tools used by the council’s Youth Offending Team – and it’s no soft option. It includes electronic curfews (tagging) and 25 hours of contact per week with YOT staff. If it fails, the next stop is lock-up
Did You Know?
Convictions at court dropped by 23% from 09/10 to 10/11.
We have contact
PREVENTION is always better than cure and for people working in this field, the earlier you can get in the better your chances are of changing behaviours.
One way of doing this is through Contact Cards.
When a young person gets into trouble they get a card. For the police and council teams who administer the scheme, it means 'you're on our radar'.
If the bad behaviour continues and the young person gets more cards, it's time for further action, for instance, getting the young person to sign-up to an Acceptable Behaviour Contract.
Last year close to 2,500 Contact Cards were given out to young people in Wigan Borough but only 379 got a second one – so the scheme does make a difference.
Did You Know?
Fancy a dream trip to the United States? Then stay out of trouble.
A criminal conviction could see you banned from the USA and this includes penalties for young people involved in ASB.
To find out more about the measures agencies use to tackle youth-related ASB, go to Wigan Council - Anti Social Behaviour (external link). To report ASB, call the council's hotline on 01942 404364 or Greater Manchester Police on 0161 872 5050.