Anti-social behaviour, rural crime and young people drinking and smoking cannabis at the town’s skatepark are issues police are clamping down on in Melton.
That was the message from Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach and Deputy Chief Constable Roger Bannister when they visited the town on Tuesday.
The duo were quizzed by residents and shoppers at the street market as they helped man a stand in Market Place as part of the force’s roadshow ‘What Matters To You?’ tour.
Latest crime figures for September show that around a quarter of offences in the town involved anti-social behaviour.
Police recently started using new alcohol screening equipment, in support of door staff, to assess if someone had already drunk too much alcohol before entering a licensed premises and Lord Bach said this was helping prevent incidents inside pubs and clubs.
He told the Melton Times: “Anti-social behaviour is something I consider to be very important in Melton and across the county.
“It’s a serious issue which affects people’s lives in a damaging way and I know the officers here are working hard to deal with it.”
Lord Bach has been in his role for just six months but he admitted he was surprised at how difficult a job the police have because of heavy cutbacks in their budget.
“It has really opened my eyes to the challenges faced by rural police forces like Leicestershire,” added Lord Bach.
“We have worked really hard to keep the current numbers of officers and not lose any more.
“We are using more PCSOs and some of the feedback we have had on the work they are doing is second to none.”
Melton police are stepping up patrols at the skatepark in the Play Close after reports of ‘inappropriate activites’ such as youngsters smoking cannabis.
A Problem Solving Profile (PSP) has been set up to monitor the situation and officers are working with partner agencies to engage with offenders and educate them on the dangers and the law.
Deputy Chief Constable Bannister said: “Our PCSOs spend a lot of time out and about on patrol in Melton at places like the skatepark.
“They sometimes come across young people drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis and they have the powers to confiscate these products.”
Perennial crimes in rural boroughs like Melton are burglaries and thefts from farms but Mr Bannister said work was taking place to minimise such offences.
He said: “One of the major crimes in this area has been the theft of high value farm machinery and we have been in talks with the NFU about how we can work to prevent it.”
The deputy chief constable, the second highest ranking officer in Leicestershire, insisted Melton people have an important part to play by taking as many crime prevention measures as they can.
A crime prevention market stall will continue to run on the first Tuesday of every month to advise on what residents can do.
The duo said they had enjoyed talking to market traders on the day. Officers now patrol more visibly which has led to fewer thefts and other retail crime on market days.
The deputy chief constable added: “It has been very useful for us to come to Melton. We’ve had lots of questions, including some we can’t help with such as ones about air quality and the bypass.
“But we’ve had good feedback from people and it’s been a worthwhile exercise.”