Council-funded police patrols are winning the battle against anti-social behaviour in Huddersfield town centre.

Over the last 12 months Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres have benefited from an additional police presence thanks to a Kirklees Council-funded ‘multi-agency enforcement team.’

One of the team’s biggest successes was dispersing a gang of up to 40 youths who were breaking Covid guidelines and intimidating shoppers in the lower car park at Tesco in Huddersfield.

Store manager Jen Donald said: “We had some appalling anti-social behaviour in our lower car park that was very intimidating for colleagues and customers.

“We had gangs of up to 40 youths breaching Covid restrictions, skate boarding, causing graffiti and taking drugs. Having had to call the police on several occasions, we met up with the team to see how we could tackle this issue together.

“With regular visits from the team and a planned approach – which we reviewed weekly – we saw the behaviour change.

“This gave my colleagues and customers the confidence to use the car park again, without intimidation. This is the first time I have worked with the team, and am very happy with the sustained results.”

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Since the team’s deployment last summer, officers have handed out 135 ‘directions to leave’ town centres which have dramatically reduced the visible anti-social behaviour within both Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres.

The increased uniformed presence in town centres which the team has provided has increased public confidence and encouraged residents to get in touch, particularly with regards to anti-social behaviour offences.

The town centre team have been working with Trading Standards and during four successful operations over 100,000 illegal cigarettes have been seized.

Clr Carole Pattison

Clr Carole Pattison, Cabinet Member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, said: “The team began last July when lockdown restrictions were being eased and the town centres were starting to unfortunately see an increase in anti-social behaviour and street drinking.

“Thankfully the team were on the front foot and managed to address these issues instantly.

“Despite the success of the team we must not be complacent. Looking forward we plan to address issues which are important to our residents and businesses.

“In the coming weeks the focus will be on the night-time economy to coincide with venues re-opening. The team will also be looking to further reduce youth anti-social behaviour in hotspot areas and to address the illegal use of e-scooters.”

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Chief Insp Alan Travis, of Kirklees Police, said: “These substantial reductions in anti-social behaviour in town centres are clearly very welcome, and show what can be achieved through sustained partnership working to tackle issues of concern.

“We fully realise the very tough conditions traders face in our towns and want to do all we can to help them by lowering criminal offending and reducing the kinds of low-level offending which can have a negative impact on retail hubs.

“The number of ‘direction to leave’ orders issued by officers is very much in keeping with the proactive mandate they have been given to nip issues in the bud and tackle repeat problem offenders.”

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