Town Halves Anti-Social Behaviour With Just One Police Officer on Foot Patrol

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The introduction of just one police officer on patrol reduced anti-social behaviour by nearly half in a small seaside English town, in what is being described as a win for traditional law enforcement.

Over the past nine months, the town of Maryport, in Cumbria, has seen anti-social behaviour decline by 47 per cent in comparison to the same period last year following the deployment of a single “bobby on the beat”, the British phrase for a police officer patrolling streets on foot.

Following the resounding success, Cumbria Police have urged other police departments throughout the UK to follow suit and bring back more “beat” policing, particularly in rural areas of the country where officers have a better chance of engaging with the local community.

Community officer PC Sam Steele, the single bobby on the beat in Maryport, told The Telegraph: “They see you day to day and they know you’re their friend – and they know why you’re there.

“You’re not there to enforce necessarily on them, but you’re there to just be a part of their community. We’re not reinventing any wheels, we’re just doing it the logical way, the way it should be done.”

Anti-social behaviour is classified in Britain as actions such as harassment, vandalism, or public drunkenness, which could cause fear or intimidation of local residents.

Information published last year by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services revealed that over the previous five years, the number of bobbies on the beat in England and Wales fell by one-third, declining from 23,928 in 2015 to 16,577 in 2020.

The police and crimes commissioner for the West Midlands Simon Foster admitted last year that the policy of dismantling community policing had been a big mistake, saying: “It was counterproductive and a false economy. We have all been paying the price with less justice, safety and security.”

PC Sam Steele said: “Walking around and being that visible presence, recognising people that we know and catching people in the act – and nipping it in the bud.

“The different towns need different approaches and different officers and Maryport is one where it’s a very friendly, open town. They all talk to me – it’s all by names and as we said, you’ll fight with someone one day and the next day they’ll shake your hand.”

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