Lighter nights mean more people enjoying the many parks and open spaces in St Helens Borough later into the evening, but this can sometimes lead to anti-social behaviour.
The SpringWatch campaign returns, running throughout April, and will see St Helens Borough Council’s Community Safety Outreach Team increasing their presence and visibility in local parks and open spaces, alongside Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, chatting with residents and engaging with young people.
They’ll also be signposting young people to positive activities on offer for them among the borough’s community and voluntary organisations.
And where anti-social behaviour does occur, community safety partners are encouraging residents to report it – particularly off-road vehicles, fire-setting, and neighbourhood nuisance which can increase at this time of year.
Tanya Wilcock, Director of Communities for St Helens Borough Council said: “The SpringWatch campaign brings local agencies together to engage with our young people and young adults using our parks and open spaces, to educate and raise awareness of the impact of behaviours which could be considered as anti-social.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy our parks; wonderful spaces to improve their physical health and mental wellbeing. We can signpost young people to positive activities and educate them to keep everyone safe and well, preventing and where necessary combatting problem issues such as off-road vehicle nuisance, anti-social behaviour and fire-setting, and neighbour complaints.
“While neighbour complaints could be solved by simply being more considerate, anti-social behaviour, fire setting and off-road vehicles can have far more serious consequences – damaging communities and properties and causing significant distress and harm to people’s mental health when prolonged. So it’s vital that we try to address such behaviour before it becomes a problem, and for residents to know how to report it when it does.”
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Station Manager Joe Cunliffe said: “Deliberate fire setting not only affects people’s ability to enjoy public spaces such as parks and woodlands but can also have an effect on wildlife in these areas. Dealing with these types of fires, which should not have happened, diverts fire appliances away from other activities such as giving fire safety advice to make the communities of St Helens safer from the risk of fire. It also takes crews away from dealing with other, potentially life-threatening incidents – we can’t be in two places at once.
“It is also important to remember that swimming in places such as canals or the dams in and around St Helens is extremely dangerous. Although the air temperature may be warm, the temperature of the water remains extremely cold at this time of year and the shock of the cold water can make swimming difficult and increase the difficulty in getting out of the water.”
St Helens Police Inspector Rob Budden said: “Lighter nights and better weather means more people will want to enjoy parks and open spaces in St Helens. Sadly, it can lead to a rise in anti-social behaviour, including the use of off-road vehicles, so our officers will be out in those areas on regular patrols to make sure people of all ages can enjoy them safely.
“We know anti-social behaviour can cause fear and intimidation in the heart of our communities, and I want to make it clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated by Merseyside Police.
“We take all reports of criminality seriously and we’ll continue working closely with St Helens Borough Council, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and the public to identify offenders and bring them to justice.”
Anyone with information on ASB is asked to direct message @MerPolCC on Twitter, message police on Facebook ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’, call 101, speak to local officers, or report online via @MerPolCC or @CrimestoppersUK.
To report anti-social fires dial 999.
For more information about the SpringWatch campaign visit Safer St Helens.