Rise in anti-social incidents 'getting worse' in West Cumbrian town

For those living in an area in West Cumbria, the spate of anti-social behaviour has left many feeling like it has become a "lawless town."

Residents have said they have suffered weeks of anti-social behaviour in Aspatria.

Aspatria Town Council said they have reported 20 incidents to police in the last month. They say there are also signs of drug-use and smashed bottles found around the town.

Alan Maxwell, the Town Mayor, has said that the issue has gotten recently worse.

"It isn't just happening now. It's happened for quite a long time, but it seems to be getting worse as time goes on.

"Every day we have a problem to look at and put right. People to a certain degree are a bit sort of cautious of walking past the youths when they're in groups" he said.

Kelly Cooper, the Town Clerk at Aspatria Town Council says it is a minority causing the problem. "Feels a bit of a lawless town at the minute" she said.

Some anti-social incidents include buildings being broken into, like the rugby club, objects being thrown onto the railway track, £1700 worth of damage to a fence, damage to a newly refurbished toilet block, graffiti, and damaging a new shelter for school children.

Ms Cooper added: "While these incidents might seem quite low level and petty, locals here say they're happening repeatedly and it's costing the town council thousands and thousands of pounds."

Repairing the damage to the church gates alone cost nearly £2000. The bills are adding up and the council is struggling to cover the expenditure.

The town council believes local council tax payers should help foot the bill for repairs, although they stress that "we do not want to do that.. because people are suffering enough financially at this moment in time."

While the town council has said that they have reported all the damage, the residents have been increasingly frustrated about a lack of police action.

A statement from Cumbria Police said: "Crime and anti-social behaviour in the Aspatria area is a priority for officers in west Cumbria as well as our partners.

"A range of measures are currently in place, along with further ongoing work – both operational and educational – to take place over the coming weeks.

"Extra high visibility patrols are being deployed along with covert patrols to aim to deal with any ongoing problems.

"We can confirm we are also aiming to boost police numbers in general in the Aspatria area, including the deployment in the coming months of a dedicated community beat officer, a role which has worked to great success in Workington town centre and Maryport.

"We have also deployed an experienced PCSO to this area who is well-known in the town having served in this community in the past. They will be out-and-about identifying problems and speaking to young people.

"Crime prevention work is taking place to prevent issues at areas where we have seen a number of offences. We are also carrying out other work with the other agencies serving the community.

"We will be seeking to engage with school children during the new school year to provide education on the impact of behaviour such as anti-social behaviour on the community."

Inspector Scott Adams said: “We are aware of a number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in Aspatria and we can reassure the community this is a priority for us and a range of tactics and measures are being carried out.

“Anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated by the police and partners as we know the impact it can have."

Cumbria's police and crime commissioner, Peter McCall, said: "It is always worth reporting. It's not just about flashing blue lights, it is about a targeted response to it.

"The problem is someone rings up and police send someone round and the kids disappear and you haven't solved anything.

"It is not just about policing, housing has a role to play, the council has a role to play - it is a joint response.

"But if you report it we can build up a profile and target the right response in order to solve the problem. "We all have to remember kids belong to somebody, so parents have to take some responsibility as well."

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