By Sergeant Andy Boyd

Hi, I hope this blog finds you well and that you and your families have had a fantastic time over the festive period? Here on the beat team, we have had a number of challenges leading up to, and over the Christmas period which have included a number of burglaries and a rise in Anti-Social Behaviour in the town centre.
Firstly though, I’d like to introduce two new members to the team. PCSO Steve Kipling is new to the organisation having previously worked in the pub trade. At the moment he is undergoing some supervised ‘on the job’ training, but will soon be unleashed on the Aycliffe North & Middridge area taking over from PCSO Matt Wall who will in turn move to Aycliffe East and have responsibility for the Industrial Estate and southern part of the Town Centre. PCSO Abi Hill, who has been a PCSO for a number of years in Bishop Auckland area, joins us and will cover the Aycliffe West area supporting PCSO Chris O’rien who is already doing a fantastic job there. PCSO Jen Atkinson remains in the Northern part of Aycliffe East where she has already built up some great ties and knowledge of the area. This takes us up to our full establishment of 5 PCSOs (Sgt and 3 PC’s also) for the Newton Aycliffe area and all of them bring differing skills and experience to the team. More details of these moves will be published soon.
Over a period a just a few days in December, there was a spike in reports of burglary. A male from the Shildon area was quickly identified from CCTV enquiries and has since been charged with a number of them, he was later sentenced to 52 weeks in prison when he appeared at court.
Anti-Social Behaviour has risen in the Town Centre over the festive period with groups of youths causing issues for businesses and shoppers. The team are targeting a number of key individuals in the hope that this sends a message to others and are hopeful that the courts will support us in the very near future with applications for Criminal Behaviour Orders. Discussions are also taking place with partner agencies around education and engagement as a tool to divert youths from participating in such antics.
As you may be aware, we opened a shop in the town centre in the two weeks leading up to Christmas. Each day we were joined by partner agencies such as Livin, Durham County Council, the Fire Service, Junction 7, Changing Lives and AARMS (Aycliffe Alcohol Recovery and Mutual Support Group) to offer the community advice and sign posting over a cuppa. With the support of Livin, Honest John, Nev and Joanne Jones and Bryan Haldane we also organised a Santas Grotto in the shop which over two Sundays attracted over 1000 visitors, raised over £500 for charity, and incorporated a school poster competition. We were completely overwhelmed by how this was supported by the community and plans are already in place to repeat it again next year. Our efforts were all worth it though when Harvey and Oscar walked into the Grotto with their parents and piggy banks that they wished to donate to charity, they certainly stole the show and won our hearts.
We are running the ACE (Aycliffe Community Excellence) scheme this year which recognises good kids doing good things. Generally, it is only a small percentage of youths that cause issues in any area, and sick of all the bad publicity youths generally get, we wanted to reward youths that displayed acts of kindness and great community spirit. The scheme is supported and rewarded by McDonalds and ROF59, and together with Greater Aycliffe Town Council we are always seeking worthy candidates. If you know someone who you think deserves some recognition, drop me a line at the police station?
So, have a fantastic 2019, look out for each other, and work with us to improve the community for everyone.