Story: Lisa Swift
More than 30 parents met with members of the local police team in January to voice their concerns about community safety. The meeting was organised by Byron Wood Parents’ Group, who have been active in the school for several years.
Many of the parents and their children live in the area affected by the Section 30 dispersal order put in place in December. Police officer PC Daniel Laycock, and PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) manager Shaun Davis were there to explain what the section 30 was and answer parents’ questions.
Daniel Laycock explained,
“The section 30 is not about arresting people, and we haven't made any arrests yet. It is to make the area feel safer for local residents by dispersing groups who may cause anti-social behaviour. Having spoken to local shops and residents, we believe that issues with large groups of young men have got better and the area is much quieter.”
Parents pointed out that drug dealing was still taking place, though it had moved. One parent said she hadn't seen any police in the area.
“I was looking forward to the section 30 starting, but it’s not as visible as I expected.”
PC Laycock confirmed that patrols were taking place every day, including police on horses. He also said four arrests had been made on drugs-related offences. He said,
“It’s important that people report what they see to the police, either directly to our officers or through the 101 number. You don't have to give your name. Sometimes things don't happen quickly; they take time, but each report helps us to target what we do in the right places.”
Concern was also expressed about what activities were available for young people to help them. One parent said,
“We have been waiting for something to happen; now organisations are popping up. We need activities for young children.”
“It’s all reactive. The last 3 times young people have been lost, there has been an increased presence of police and activities. Then it goes again. We want it to continue over the long term.”
Another parent said,
“The young people don't make us feel unsafe. There is nothing for them to do. They need jobs and training. They shouldn't all be labelled as doing drugs.”
The police responded,
“We understand that not every child is a hoodie or involved in drugs. Every week we have the street-based team, which is a partnership of workers, who engage with young people. We are also fighting to keep this kind of resource in the area and we will keep pushing for resources to stay in the area.”
The police promised to attend parents’ meetings regularly to keep them up to date with progress on the Section 30 and local safety issues.