£10000 campaign to crack down on criminal damage

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£10000 campaign to crack down on criminal damage

A £10,000 project to crack down on the growing numbers of vandals who attack homes, cars and other property is to be launched in the Cotswolds.

The project – called Damage Limitation – is the brainchild of the Safer Cotswolds Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership and was commissioned by the Cotswold Local Strategic Partnership (LSP).

Criminal damage has the highest incidence of all crime in Cotswold District. In 2005/06, 1,116 cases were reported, compared with 843 the previous year – an increase of 32.4%.

The Damage Limitation project, funded by council tax paid by second home owners, will be piloted in Cirencester, then rolled out across the District.

The town will be put under the microscope as Cotswold District Council works with the police and other agencies to identify damage hotspots and ways to combat the problem.

Council Portfolio holder for Strong and Safe Communities, Cllr Clive Bennett, said: “Criminal damage, from broken windows and fences to arson attacks, is a problem that is on increase across Britain. Whether it's down to high spirits, anger or peer pressure, it's something we want to stop.

“We are determined to crackdown on the anti-social behaviour of the minority who think it's fun to damage and deface property. This project will help us to identify and catch offenders and hopefully prevent further cases.”

Safer Cotswolds – made up of Cotswold District Council, the County Council, Gloucestershire Constabulary, Cotswold and Vale Primary Care Trust, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Police Authority and many other agencies – was awarded the project funding by the Cotswold Local Strategic Partnership (LSP).

The funding is part of the £290,000 Cotswold District Council successfully bid for from Gloucestershire County Council, which holds the second homes fund.

Part of the £10,000 will be spent on research to build up a detailed map of reports of criminal damage to identify where the problems lie.

The Council's Community Safety Manager Les Haines said: “If, for example, we found a problem occurred close to a particular pub we would work with the landlord to encourage good behaviour by customers leaving the premises, raise awareness with local residents, improve lighting if necessary and target patrols.

“If vandalism by young people is highlighted as an issue in the town, we will work with schools, parents and the youth service to address the problem. We want to foster a sense of civic pride and respect for public spaces from all sectors of the community.

“Our links with Town and Parish Councils will also help us get to the heart of the criminal damage problem. They know what is going on at grass roots level and are always looking at ways of making their communities safer places in which to live and work."

Chief Supt Dean Walker said: "Criminal damage is a problem in many communities these days and we are determined to deal very positively with those responsible for it. Members of Safer Cotswolds Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership are working together to reduce these offences and the support of everyone in tackling this problem is very welcome.

"I must warn the public that, in future, individuals who commit criminal damage should expect to be arrested and positively dealt with. Criminal damage covers a wide range of offences, from arson to more minor incidents, such as breaking tree branches. Some may think arresting people in relation to offences at the lower end of the scale is disproportionate, but victims are always telling us that they want the police to take such matters seriously."

Posted : 24/07/2006 16:47:46

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