Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Crime in the Dispersal Zone

I'd like to keep track of decreases/increases in crime in the dispersal zone. Looks like there was an attempted armed robbery of Tesco express on Sunday. This is a criminal offense and not covered/addressed by the Dispersal Zone.

And a closer look at that crime scene board....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dispersal Zones in London

I've been looking at other dispersal zones in London. I guestimate there to be 100s of dispersal zones in London, i'm working on giving a more concrete figure in the very near future - this information is difficult to get hold of!

The approaches to implementation within the 33 London boroughs are broadly similiar - minimal consultation and awareness-raising), but there are two note-worthy London Authorities.

Bromley Borough Police - Neighbourhood Safety teams
All teams maintain a webpage offering latest community safety news and even better - they publish copies of most (not all) their Dispersal Orders (in PDF format) .

London Borough of Tower Hamlets
I'm really quite impressed with this approach. Tower Hamlets council have renamed "Dispersal Zones" to "Good Behaviour Zones" now how positive is that? They also say they are "actively promoting all of the positive activities that are available for people locally to get involved in." bit vague perhaps.. And they are careful to highlight in bold letters "The powers under the Good Behaviour Zone will only be used to tackle those causing, or likely to cause, anti-social behaviour".

Marking the boundaries of the Dispersal Zone

Home-made cards placed along the edge of the dispersal zone mark the boundary.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Police Signage around the Dispersal Zone

Although the Dispersal Zone boundary is not visibly marked - police signage has been added along some of the edegs of the zone, warning of criminals in the area and warning would-be burglars.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The dispersal zone

Dispersal Zone
centre of the dispersal zone

the centre
centre of the dispersal zone

sketches of the dispersal zone

Tour of Duty - tackling anti-social behaviour

A diary of a shift with the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs
Wed 15th November – 2-10pm Shift
xxxxx Police Station – Safer Neighbourhoods Team

Neighbourhood safety

2pm Briefing
Meet at station for overview on role of Safer Neighbourhood team. After a quick tour of the station I was allowed to join the briefing, first priority of the day is to distribute leaflets in the xxxxx area inviting residents to a police drop-in session at the community flat. Some hesitance at the idea of a leaflet drop and it is suggested that we might take the leaflets to an active resident who might deliver them on our behalf.

3pm Out into the street

3:10 Directions
Directed elderly man to the nearest temporary bus stop.

3:30 Stop & Account
Man on mini-motorbike riding round a block of flats set back from the road. The PCSOs warned him of the rules around mini-motorbikes. He explained it was his son’s motorbike and looked like he would not be riding in again that afternoon. We walk on.

3.40 Leaflet Drop
We arrived outside helpful woman's front door – unfortunately she was not in. It was decided to drop one of the three bundles though her door – as perhaps all three would be an imposition. The other two bundles were put away for another day.

3:55 Suspicious Object
A strange box of electronics found on the pavement, propped up against a wall. It appeared to have a motherboard and various wires – all disconnected. Controlled alarm, but no mention of it being a bomb. “What could someone do with this?” None of us were sure so it was decided to put it in the nearest bin. Job done.

4:15 Tour of a notorious estate
No-one around on the estate but the PCSOs were keen to show me this area. A fucking horrific 60’s estate, run-down, unlit, no privacy for residents, dumped rubbish etc. The team had recently implemented a “Dispersal Order” and wanted to show me the enforcement notice, perhaps I’d like to photograph it? The notice had in fact been torn down but luckily a notice remained on the communal bin doors. I took a photograph.

Dispersal Order dispersal notice, since torn down

4:20 Tesco Express’s dispersal order
Still on the theme of dispersal orders the PCSOs take me to see the notice on our local Tesco Express. So no gathering here of more than 2 people at one time!

tesco Sketch anti-ram-raider posts out front of shop

4:30 REFS
We leave the estate and loop back towards the station for our “REFS”. After which the officers have quite a lot of paper work to do before getting on the streets again.

6:00 Out for second tour
We headed off in the opposite direct to earlier – this time towards the Park. We
get a chance to talk and the PCSOs tell me a bit about themselves and their frontline role, i'm impressed by their diverse experience, sensitivity and commitment. After 15 uneventful minutes we arrive at the park. It’s dark and empty except for a dog walker. I use the torch provided by the station.

6:30 Another problem estate
We leave the park and head in to the estate behind via a long concrete walled path. At a predictable “cross-path” we see a group of about 8 youths, hanging about. As they see us they say, “Quick hide your gun!” followed by much laughter. As we walk past them they start to mimic one of the PCSOs, a large guy with a laidback walk. The other PCSO is hurt by this rudeness to her colleague and she pulls up the youth identified as the ring-leader. The PCSOs are on first name terms with all the youths. “It’s rude, you know, to mimic someone behind their back” she says. Again laughter. The PCSO continues with something possibly containing the word “Piss”. The youths love this. “Ah they say, you can be arrested for swearing, huh or one rule for us, one for you!” her colleague gently joins in, explaining why it’s not a problem and this low key approach then sparks a conversation about the powers and role of PCSOs. (The youths refer to them as PCSOs too!)

6:50 Spontaneous debate on the powers of PCSOs
“Have you got handcuffs?” “No”, “have you got pepper spray?” Laughs “No”. “What about a truncheon?” Still "No". “Then what can you do?” They explain that they're backed-up by 2 PCs who will come if necessary. “They can do a section 5 on you” interjects one youth, “Section 5?” says another, “how come you’re always going on about Section5?” “Oh I know a lot about section 5, cos I’ve had it a few times, haven’t I?" he says laughing proudly, looking at the PCSOs, “yes" they confirm. The atmosphere is light and friendly. The PCSOs enquire after a few of their friends – where they’re living now etc, all questions are answered – it’s a friendly caring exchange.

7:00 Am I CID?
I’m asked warily by a couple of the youth if I’m CID? "No" I reply quite surprised and amused – CID always means “Coppers in Disguise” to me. I’m wearing a bright pink body warmer and wonder if I could be any less conspicuous. I tell them I’m not – “oh so how old are you then?” I tell them I’m a student and am 30 years old – they flatteringly replied I looked 20 – great!

7:05 Group dispersal
The officers ask the youths to move on – whether in to the park or home. The group shuffles off towards the park. The officers start to give me the background on some of the youths and the area. “People don’t like them stood outside their houses all night – although last week – he (the occupier of the house we are standing outside) came out to tell us he didn’t mind the kids outside his house, they weren’t causing any problems to him and weren’t doing anything. It’ll be different once we get a dispersal order here soon, they won’t be able to hang about like that then”.
The finer details of the dispersal orders are explained to me and the fact that they are also trying to set-up Youth activities wherever they issue dispersal orders. They hope to open the first of these soon.

We suddenly become aware that we are now stood outside people’s houses chatting and we promptly walk on.

7:10 This girls dad’s after us
Round the corner, 3 small youths are sat on a low fence outside a housing block. “what are you up to? the PCSOs enquire. “Nothing” reply the youths, before gushing out their story about this girl’s dad being after them because they said the school the girl goes to are spastics. “well come and find us if you’re worried – or call the police” they are advised. “Huh the kids say, you’ll be gone in five minutes!”
The PCSOs know all three and tell me there goods, really sweet.

7:15 Intercepted take-away
As we are leaving the estate a woman approaches to tell us her take-away did not turn up the night before. Apparently her delivery was intercepted by youths and the take-away restaurant was now refusing to deliver to her. The PCSOs ask whether they have any details on the thief, “No “ she answers, “you’ll need to speak to the driver”. the PCSOs took down the name of the restaurant and we move on. Once out of earshot they explain that this isn’t a matter for them, “it’s up to the driver to report it – what can we do?”.

8:45 Back to the station
All seems to be quiet on the rest of the estate and we head up the hill to check on a neighbouring estate. Again all quiet. So we decide to head slowly back to the station and the end of the shift. We arrive back at the station just after nine for a cup of tea and to catch-up on paper work.

10:00pm Shift over.

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