I have been lucky enough to spend some time with the police this week, discussing concerns around what seems to be a steady rise in anti-social behaviour by a very small group of young people. We know these are issues of real concern to the community and sometimes there is a perception that nothing is being done. When I mentioned this to the police, they fully recognised that juvenile crime in the town accounts for nearly 80% of the anti-social behaviour. However, what we find increasingly frustrating is that it is being committed by only about 12 young people in the age group 14 to 17. The police have shown me the work they have been doing to deal with these youngsters including a week of action last week and they are now taking a very tough line, with arrests being made almost daily and charge sheets with evidence growing ever longer. In time the courts will deal with the current group and whilst this takes time and there is a reluctance by the court system to criminalise minors, for many involved in the anti-social behaviour and criminality we see on our streets, there are very few options.
It is always too easy to over generalise and we do need to recognise that the vast majority of young people never get into trouble and are active members of our community, joining clubs, and societies and taking part in everything our town has to offer. For this reason, we are keen to recognise those young people who have made an outstanding contribution to our community through our young person award. If you know somebody who goes out of their way to help others, acts as good role model or volunteers in our community, then why not nominate them? This link will take you to the nomination page on our website. https://www.devizes-tc.gov.uk/civic-award-nominations-2023/
The Town Council is working with agencies and stakeholders to better understand the needs of young people in our community. A large piece of work undertaken in the Autumn of 2022 was a youth survey, which provided a good background on young people’s fears, aspirations and needs, with one aspect, in particular, being a safe space for them to meet. The Town Council is very keen to explore this need further and is currently developing a project to engage with a variety of younger person groups, including those harder to reach, so that they can help us to understand what is meant by a safe space.
Not all young people get the best advice or have strong support networks as they move from childhood to adolescence and as such can easily make poor choices that place them on the path to criminality and disruption. The town council recognises this and is looking to partner with professional youth workers to talk to young people out on the streets of an evening.
I am sorry if this week’s blog has been a little focused on one area, but there is a recognition by the Council that the behaviour of a few is having an impact on our town and we will support the police to deal with those who are offending in a firm manner; however, there are a lot well behaved young people in our community that deserve our recognition and others who just need our support.
Town Clerk, Simon Fisher