£1m project to tackle anti-social behaviour gets underway

A £1m pilot project to tackle anti-social behaviour across Merseyside gets underway today (20 July).

The funding has been secured by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell and will be used to launch a new project focused on ensuring those who commit ASB make amends as quickly as possible.

This may include completing unpaid work, helping to repair the damage caused, or going through a restorative justice process to make them better understand the consequences of their actions through communication with the victim.

The Immediate Justice initiative will see Merseyside Police and the region’s five local authorities working with the charity Causeway to identify individuals who can be directed on to the programme, ensuring swift action against ASB.

Through a partnership between Causeway and the PCC’s Victim Care Merseyside partner Restorative Solutions, there will also be a focus on preventing re-offending through education, rehabilitation and behaviour change, by encouraging offenders to recognise the impact of their actions on their communities.

The project is set to be trialled in hotspot areas this month, with individuals who have committed acts such as criminal damage, public order offences and street harassment carrying out litter picking and graffiti removal. It will then be rolled out across the whole of Merseyside before the end of the year.

A recent survey conducted by the PCC, showed that 72% of people believe that community payback, such as litter picking and graffiti removal, was an appropriate punishment for someone causing ASB, while 53% thought education and rehabilitation was an effective approach.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said, “I’m determined to make Merseyside a safer, stronger place to live, work and visit.

“ASB is not low level. It can have a hugely damaging effect on our communities, blighting lives and neighbourhoods and leading to more serious crime.

“I know it matters to people across our region, so through this pilot we will be working with offenders to try and make them think about the consequences of their actions – and think twice before acting in an anti-social way again.

“If we can change attitudes and mindsets, we can prevent ASB from happening in the first place, improving our communities for all.”

Stuart Otten, Causeway’s Head of Criminal Justice Services, said, “Over the last five years, we have worked tirelessly to create innovative services that seek to reduce crime and its impact by working to provide support to individuals who are at risk of first time offending or re-offending.

“At Causeway we are firmly committed to seeing the individual, not just their actions. This approach takes into account things such as childhood trauma and its impact on adult life. We believe this expansion of our service will allow us to help many more people turn their lives around and as a result bring many other added benefits into our communities.”

Learning from the project will also improve the early intervention and prevention approach to ASB across the county.

Merseyside Police’s Superintendent Nick Gunatilleke said, “Tackling anti-social behaviour is an everyday commitment for Merseyside Police and our partners.

“We understand the devastating impact that ASB can have on individuals and neighbourhoods, particularly when victims are experiencing it repeatedly and we remain committed to doing everything we can to stop it happening and bringing those responsible for it to justice.

“With this new project Merseyside Police officers and staff will play a vital role in identifying perpetrators of ASB and referring them to service providers who will run the programmes.”

As part of the project, the PCC’s Victim Care Merseyside partner Restorative Solutions will help to train staff at Causeway to deliver restorative justice interventions. This could include attendance at an ASB awareness course or a community conference with the aim of making the offender accountable for their actions and the impact of their crime.

Director of Corporate Services at Restorative Solutions Kate Hook said, “Restorative Solutions have been delivering the PCC commissioned Restorative Justice service in Merseyside since 2018, and are delighted to be working with the PCC, Merseyside Police and our partners Causeway to extend delivery of restorative interventions across the area to help address the blight of ASB for individuals and communities.”

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