Halloween weekend celebrations passed peacefully in Halton, and local police have praised the public and parents of youngsters for playing their part in keeping Widnes and Runcorn safe by encouraging responsible behaviour.
Runcorn’s Chief Inspector Debbie Hooper said “We traditionally see an increase in calls to all emergency services during this period, particularly around Halloween when the activities of a small number ‘trick or treaters’ borders on antisocial or criminal in nature, and members of our community do not want the unwanted intrusion.”
When planning ahead of the weekend, police in both towns worked closely with local partners, including Halton Borough Council, housing providers, and transport companies. Safer Halton Partnerships Inspector Gareth Woods said “It is essential that we adopt a ‘joined up’ approach to tackling times of peak demand, and we worked jointly with the local authority and transport companies to ensure our policing plans were robust, using powers to disperse anyone suspected of wrong-doing, meaning we could respond effectively to incidents, deter criminality and keep our local community safe”
Prior to the weekend, officers and PCSO’s visited local schools to educate youngsters about standards of behaviour, and carried out visits to elderly and vulnerable residents who have been subject to antisocial behaviour in recent years, to offer reassurance.
In both Widnes and Runcorn, ‘Dispersal Powers’ were authorised for the entire weekend – a relatively new legislative tool in the police armoury – meaning that the power existed to direct anyone suspected of committing crime or antisocial behaviour to leave the area. In total, over the course of Friday and Saturday night, almost 40 ‘Dispersal notices’ were issued, over 35 juveniles were signed up to AntiSocial Behaviour Contracts and over 30 youths were taken to a place of safety or returned to their homes when found committing antisocial behaviour. Alcohol, eggs and a laser pen were also seized, and police acknowledged that the number of antisocial behaviour incidents reported by the public had fallen from previous years.
Chief Inspector Richard Rees of Widnes Local Policing Unit said: “Lots of careful planning came to fruition this weekend, meaning we could concentrate our efforts in providing a highly visible policing presence as a deterrent to troublemakers. The support from Halton Safer Partnerships cannot be underestimated when considering our success – they operated ‘Community Hubs’ in both towns where youths subject to sanctions were dealt with proportionately by police and other agencies”.
Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer said: “Since coming into office I have been clear that tackling anti-social behavior is a priority and I support the Constabulary in using the range of powers at their dispersal to keep us safe. The behaviour of some around the Halloween period can cause real anxiety in our communities, particularly for elderly and vulnerable members of the public. I am delighted to see the dedication of the Constabulary’s officers and staff working in our neighbourhoods and with our partners. The results have been positive and I would like to thank everyone from across all agencies for their efforts in making the operation a success.”
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