A NEW blitz against antisocial behaviour is to be launched in York, to tackle young trouble makers during the summer holidays.
Roving police patrols will target known trouble hot spots throughout the city, to break up rowdy groups or hand youngsters over to other organisations.
North Yorkshire Police hope to emulate the success of a similar operation six years ago. They are working with other local organisations including the Jack Raine Foundation, the Sexual Assaults Referral Centre (SARC), the NHS and City of York Council, in the hope of also protecting vulnerable children and young people at risk during the holidays.
Inspector Lee Pointon of York Police said the two-month scheme, called Operation Liberate, would see "roving patrols" of PCSOs on the streets of York targetting known antisocial behaviour hotspots.
Museum Gardens will be one of the areas targeted
The difference between the operation and an average night is that police will assess the situation then either disperse the group, or hand them over to partner agencies and get back to the streets.
Insp Pointon said: "We know antisocial behaviour traditionally increases with lighter nights and kids being off school, so we're getting high visibility patrols in the correct areas at the correct times such as parks and Museum Gardens, where we know there will be increased incidents.
"It's not a case of locking them up, but looking at going to the locations and looking at individuals and groups, looking out for antisocial behaviour and for victims of child sexual exploitation.
"We're also looking for kids who have had a bit to drink and are shouting and getting loud and aren't criminals just yet, but if you leave them another half hour, they are going to do something that will get them locked up."
Some children will be dealt with by a dispersal order, while others will be taken to a place of safety at the Jack Raine Foundation, a local charity that works with families and young people, where they will be assessed by a custody sergeant.
Insp Pointon said: "Once we have established that, we as police take a massive step back, and hand them over to our partners to help and assist them. What will then happen is the youth offender team will contact their parents or guardian, so it'll be social services linking in with their family rather than police, and following up after that."
More details about the operation are expected in coming weeks, but Insp Pointon said it would be "responsive as well as proactive", with calls to 101 used to direct officers as well as intelligence from previous nights.
He said: "We did this on a similar scale six years ago, under the national Operation Stay Safe. We took in seven or eight in the first night then five or six the next night, and by week five we were bringing in maybe one or two."
- During Operation Stay Safe in 2009, 22 young people aged between 14 and 17 were dealt with, 16 of whom admitted to consuming alcohol. Police also seized 54 cans and bottles of strong lager, cider and wine. Three young people were found in possession of tobacco which was seized, and two young people were found in possession of items which would suggest the use of cannabis.