Is enough being done to tackle anti-social behaviour in our area?

September 20, 2018 5:00 PM
By Gary Fuller in Folkestone Herald - Talking Points
Originally published by Folkestone and Hythe Liberal Democrats

Rubbish BinAnyone who takes a walk around our streets will tell you that low level anti-social behaviour, such as littering, graffiti and dog fouling is rife. Our hard-working Police and Councils do seek to tackle such things, but they simply lack the resources to employ the people needed to make a meaningful difference. Couple that with their tendency to focus resources on areas that generate revenue for the town, and some areas are left looking ill-used at best.

This isn't just a question of resources though. Liability for clearing graffiti is generally with the owner of a building. This seems patently unfair as the damage committed is anti-social in nature, rather than through their actions. Also, there are simply too many people who choose not to clean up their waste, to dump it, or even to use public bins for household waste. Such behaviour in a sense facilitates further anti-social behaviour, such as noise and vandalism.

The solution therefore is a two-fold approach. We need to put in place the resources and deterrents that will reduce anti-social behaviour, through employing larger numbers of PCSOs and enforcement officers. They need to be empowered to share information and identify hotspots for trouble, rather than simply being assigned based upon tourist or shopper footfall. They also need to be given more powerful deterrents for repeat offenders.

The second part of the solution needs to be based on education. On the spot fines don't serve as a deterrent alone. Some form of restorative justice, especially for crimes like graffiti or vandalism can serve to educate people as to the harm they have caused and may present opportunities for skills they may have to be used productively. Education programmes in schools can make sure that our young people don't contribute to the problem in the future.