I hope everyone has had a fantastic festive period and this post finds you fit and well. We have had a mixed bag over the Christmas and New Year period, but in the main Newton Aycliffe remains a safe place to live, work and shop. I follow a number of the local residents pages on Social Media and share many of the views and frustrations expressed, especially with regards to rising Anti-Social Behaviour and I’d like to take this opportunity to explain what we are trying to do in relation to this. Like in numerous towns and cities across the country, ASB rises during the winter months, this seems to be down to youths gathering in town centres where they feel safer, where there is cover from the elements, street lighting, and in some areas free WIFI where youths can use their phones. Again, like in every other community, there is a ‘hard core’ of youths who seem to take great delight in causing misery for others, this is the group that we are working hard with partners to reduce their offending whilst addressing their needs. We have tried to engage with them, we have tried to educate them, but with this element it appears that the only way forward is enforcement, they will not listen to advice! I’m sick of this type of behaviour, I know my team are sick of this behaviour, and I am fully aware that the community is growing sick and tired of this small element causing harassment, alarm and distress. This hard core have been identified, we are collating evidence on them on a daily basis, we are working with the ASB team at Durham County Council and issuing Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, we are interviewing them for all offences identified, and we are pursuing all offences where evidence supports us in doing so. We are working with local housing providers and landlords, repeat offenders causing ASB in their community risk losing their homes. We are looking at Parenting Orders where parents and carers are blatantly neglecting their kids by letting them repeatedly associate with other youths in order to cause ASB for others. We are also looking at funding for increased provision for youths to divert them away from future offending.

I have to stress that most youths in Newton Aycliffe are well behaved. In fact I am a strong supporter of good kids being rewarded for community service and acts of kindness and good citizenship, we have our ACE awards, supported by the Town Council, McDonalds and ROF59, to acknowledge some great examples of this.

Everyone needs to step up in order to address this issue. We need parents and carers to take responsibility for their kids, to know where they are, who they are associating with and educate them around the implications and dangers of their actions. We need the community to give us the evidence we need to robustly deal with these repeat offenders, CCTV, video or photographic evidence would greatly assist in investigations and I’d urge you to capture this when safe to do so.

Please be assured that we are doing all we can to reduce ASB in Newton Aycliffe.