A major crackdown has been launched to tackle rising alcohol and drug-related crime at night-time in Scarborough in a bid to ease pressure on emergency services and improve the town’s image.
A draft strategy and action plan, which sets out how the town’s night-time economy will be managed for the next three years, has been drawn up following one of the biggest studies of its kind ever carried out in the area.
Data from North Yorkshire Police, Scarborough Council, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and health services has been pulled together, along with evidence from taxi and takeaway businesses, Pubwatch and Street Angels.
The results have painted a startling picture of the current state of the night-time economy in the town – with the bar, pub and club-laden Castle Ward highlighted as the borough’s blackspot.
New figures have revealed that 69 per cent of crime and 74 per cent of anti social behaviour incidents in the borough occur within the town centre ward, which is home to St Nicholas Street and St Thomas Street.
The data also revealed that higher concentrations of incidents are now happening between midnight and 5am – much later in the night than previously seen.
Issues that have been identified in Scarborough include:
• A “pre loading” culture – where people drink large amounts of alcohol in their homes before heading into the town centre, often as late as 11pm. Extended opening hours and cheap supermarket booze have been blamed.
• A growing drug problem, in particular an increase in people taking Mcat.
• Lack of rear smoking areas, which leads to revellers spilling out on to the streets.
• Litter, glasses, bottles, food containers and used condoms and vomit having to be regularly cleaned off the streets in the town centre.
The plan – which will go out to public consultation until September – sets out a number of measures to prevent and tackle alcohol-related incidents.
Recommendations include boosting the police presence, backed up by more visible door staff and multi-agency patrols, as well as the potential use of a “passive drugs dog”.
The development of more rear smoking areas for pubs and bars, a crackdown on drinks promotions and handing out more fixed penalty notices for public order offences have also been tabled.
With a recognition that organisations, businesses and volunteers could work together more closely, there will also be weekly Saturday night briefings in Scarborough, supported by the continued use of Pub Watch and Taxi Watch.
There are also plans for a further consultation with students and young people to establish how widespread the use of drugs such as Mcat are, and a review of CCTV to ensure key areas such as taxi ranks are covered and the quality of images is good.
Longer term, agencies are keen to work with licensees in Scarborough to get them to close their doors sooner so that people are encouraged into town earlier.
Scarborough Council’s community safety and safeguarding manager, Sandra Rees, said: “Some of the evidence we’ve collated might not make comfortable reading, but for the agencies who oversee the night time economy and the business people who make a living from it, it’s vital we have a good understanding of the problems we face so we can tackle them together.
“While the number of incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour linked to alcohol is still relatively low, there is a concern shared by everyone working in the night economy about the volume of people who are intoxicated at peak times.
“We all want to see a welcoming, safe and vibrant nightlife and by working together, we certainly believe we can have a positive impact.”
The draft strategy and action plan will go before Scarborough Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, where it has been recommended for approval alongside plans to launch a public consultation on the scheme.
Main aims of new action plan
The plan has three main aims:
• Reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and crime, including domestic abuse, exploitation and sexual assaults.
• Keep people safe, reduce harm and increase public confidence in the night time economy.
• Encourage a more diverse evening economy.
Six priority areas for action have been identified:
a) Safe, effective control and management of crowds along key routes
b) High Visibility Presence and proactive enforcement
c) Improve data collection, communication and develop more integrated, partnership responses
d) Improve training for those working within the night time economy
e) Keep people safe
f) Reduce the length of the key night time economy period within Scarborough