Chesterfield town centre 'feeling safer'

Chesterfield town centre.
Chesterfield town centre.

Chesterfield town centre is feeling safer, according to Derbyshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

Hardyal Dhindsa made the comment following the second Town Centre Summit which brings together organisations including Chesterfield Borough Council and Derbyshire Constabulary to discuss ways to tackle issues in the heart of Chesterfield.

Since the first meeting in July, police have run Operation Barrichello in Chesterfield town centre, resulting in 19 criminals being jailed, more than 75 arrests and thousands of pounds worth of drugs taken off the streets.

Chesterfield Borough Council has approved the introduction of Public Space Protection Orders which will give police and enforcement officers powers to deal with anti-social behaviour.

And treatment and support initiatives are focusing on providing help to deal with the underlying alcohol, drug and mental health issues which are fuelling much of the yobbish behaviour.

Mr Dhindsa said: "I am really encouraged at the progress which has already been made to make Chesterfield town centre a place where residents and visitors can come to enjoy.

"We began this process to show that by bringing together a wide range of partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors we could make a real difference to what are some very complicated issues with multiple causes.

"There is still much work to do but I can already see and feel a noticeable difference on the streets and I am sure the public can too.

"The key now is to sustain this progress and then build on it, with the next real focus being on co-ordinating the treatment and support services on offer to tackle the underlying issues which often lead to anti-social behaviour."

Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of the borough council, added: "The police have carried out significant enforcement activity in the town centre and that is clearly making a difference to the number of incidents which are happening.

"We have also approved plans for Public Space Protection Orders which will strengthen the enforcement powers that the police will have.

"In particular the orders will enable the police to confiscate opened and unopened alcohol from people who are causing anti-social behaviour.

"Through our homelessness team and our benefits teams we are also supporting the treatment and support element of the work to deal with some of the underlying issues that contribute to these problems in the first place.

"We will continue working with all partners to make further improvements to the town centre so that Chesterfield continues to be a great place to live in, work in and visit."

As previously reported, Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins has written to Damian Green, work and pensions secretary, urging the Conservatives to delay the roll-out of Universal Credit in Chesterfield and carry out a full assessment of it.

He fears the Government's flagship benefit reform will lead to more people sleeping on the town's streets.

Employment minister Damian Hinds has replied to Mr Perkins setting out the Government's position on welfare reforms and the issue will continue to be raised in Parliament.

At the latest Town Centre Summit, it was agreed that a group will look at whether it is possible to set up an 'alternative giving' scheme.

This would enable people to donate money to support the treatment and support work of people congregating in the town centre areas as a practical alternative to begging on the streets.

The idea will only be pursued if a way can be found to directly target the money raised towards providing treatment and support for people who are congregating in Chesterfield town centre.