Shouting, swearing, drinking and drugs at 11am - what we witnessed in Chesterfield town centre
Authorities in Chesterfield are introducing new measures to tackle drug related anti-social behaviour in Chesterfield town centre.
The action comes after a meeting between Chesterfield Borough Council, Derbyshire Constabulary and the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
The new measures include:
- Following work to block the recesses at the rear of the Pavements Shopping Centre on New Beetwell Street, Chesterfield Borough Council is carrying out work on New Beetwell Street multi-storey car park to improve the environment, the car park surface and provide more covered, secure parking spaces
- 1-6-2-5, an organisation commissioned by the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Derbyshire County Council, is working to prevent drug and alcohol dependency
- The Antisocial Behaviour Forum has set up a sub group to identify projects that need additional funding and will progress applications where funding criteria supports the work carried out
- Derbyshire County Council has offered support and training for dealing with young people
Following the announcement about the new measures, we decided to head out into Chesterfield town centre to see what the anti-social behaviour picture currently looks like.
It is Monday morning at 11am and the sun is out and there is plenty of people shopping, having a coffee and getting a bite to eat.
Let's start with the good news.
Overall people told us that they think things have improved with regards to anti-social behaviour.
One of the long-running problems is that of drunks, drug addicts and homeless people near the bus stops on New Beetwell Street. There have been previous reports of bus passengers being abused and the atmosphere being quite intimidating.
Understandably, the people we spoke to did not want to give their names due to the subject matter.
An 81-year-old man from Old Whittington, who waiting for a bus on New Beetwell Street, said: "They (authorities) are getting on top of it a bit.
"It used to be bad. You could not walk anywhere without someone having something to say and if you did not give them money they would swear at you.
"People stopped coming down here and into town but it has definitely improved."
That view was also echoed by fellow bus passengers on New Beetwell Street.
An 85-year-old woman, from Brimington, said: "It has improved here. It has been terrible in the past. It was absolutely filthy. There was food strung all along the floor and the smell was horrible. It was shocking. It is alright at the moment."
When asked if she thought the authorities were doing enough to tackle the problem, she added: "It is hard for them. They cannot follow them all the time they have other issues to deal with."
And another woman, 83, also from Brimington, said she comes into town once a week. "I think it has improved a lot here. There is nothing else going on that I can see but I know it is going on elsewhere."
Explaining how bad the situation got on New Beetwell Street, she told us: "It was not very nice. They were shouting at each other one day. I feel safe enough now."
So the situation on New Beetwell Street does seem to have got better.
Now for the bad news.
As we walked further into the town centre we witnessed the sort of behaviour that people have highlighted for a long time.
Near the market area we saw one bloke, who was staggering around, pursuing another man shouting: "I have just got out of jail I don't care."
This particular man caught our attention so we decided to hang around to see what happened.
We saw him approach people to ask for money and then abuse them when they declined.
He was part of a small group who appeared to be up to no good.
Elsewhere we saw a man crouched down on a bench and he did not move an inch for quite a while. We could be wrong, but it looked similar to the effects of spice, also known as the 'zombie' drug
There was also two men who appeared drunk, were shouting and looked worse for wear outside Sports Direct.
The majority of the rest of town was fairly quiet and looked clean.
We were only in town around an hour so of course the problems could be much worse on a different day and time.
It is also important to remember that all other town centres have similar issues.
*What are your experiences of Chesterfield town centre and anti-social behaviour? Email [email protected]
WHAT DID CHESTERFIELD BOROUGH COUNCIL SAY?
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Chesterfield Borough Council’s leader, said: “By working together, partners in the Chesterfield town centre summit are introducing practical measures to reduce anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
“We have seen a reduction in people loitering at the rear of the Pavements Shopping Centre making is more pleasant for people waiting for the buses and we are working together to improve the area and provide activities for young people to do rather than them just hanging around the town centre.”
WHAT DID COUNTY'S POLICE BOSS SAY?
Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa said: “I would like to acknowledge the fantastic work that has been done by all the partners and volunteers in getting the night shelters and Homelessness Hub up and running.
“They are making a difference to so many people’s quality of life. I am encouraged by the numbers of people that have been supported and the commitment to fund the night shelters next year. This multi-agency partnership work is making a real impact.”
WHAT HELP IS THERE?
The borough council is also a partner in the Chesterfield Night Shelter project which has offered shelter to 101 people who would otherwise have been on the streets.
Held at different churches in the town, 170 people have volunteered at the centre since it opened in December.
More information about the night shelter can be found at www.derbycitymission.org.uk.
Anyone who sees anti-social behaviour in the town centre should report it by calling Derbyshire Constabulary on the non-emergency number, 101.