Writing’s on the wall for vandals
MORE than 50 young people have been arrested so far this year as part of Operation Envy, set up to target young people getting into trouble in the town. Information about gangs in the area has been collected in Operation Enigma and Operation Envy uses th
MORE than 50 young people have been arrested so far this year as part of Operation Envy, set up to target young people getting into trouble in the town.
Information about gangs in the area has been collected in Operation Enigma and Operation Envy uses that information to try and nip bad behaviour in the bud. Parents are involved and young people are asked to sign acceptable behaviour contracts (ABC).
If they sign and then break the "rules" it can be used as evidence if officers want to go for an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO).
The operation has even received praise from the Home Office.
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Since the beginning of the year, areas of Stevenage, including Longcroft Road and The Oval, have been targeted and last Thursday it was the turn of the Bedwell area.
Officers approached the homes of four young people, all wanted in connection with graffiti in the area.
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The Comet was invited to witness what happened to one teenager following his arrest.
After police knocked at the door, the teenager was taken by officers to Hitchin Police Station with his mother who acted as his appropriate adult.
The teenager and his mother spent more than three hours at the station where he was booked into custody. He had his picture, a DNA swab and fingerprints taken and he was then interviewed by police officers about why his name had been spray-painted in areas around the town.
After the police interview he was bailed until a date in May with a curfew. He and his mother were then interviewed by Roy Fletcher, Stevenage Borough Council's anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, and Tony Silverio, tenancy enforcement officer.
"We are here to deal with the civil side of anti-social behaviour while the police deal with the criminal side," explained Mr Fletcher.
"This is your opportunity to work with us on a voluntary basis. We want to prevent you getting involved in anti-social behaviour in the future," he told the teenager.
ABCs are voluntary agreements which, according to the Home Office, have proved effective as a means of encouraging young adults, children and parents to take responsibility for unacceptable behaviour. The contract has a list of rules the young person should adhere to.
Mr Silverio warned the teenager that if he kept on with his bad behaviour his family, as council tenants, could be evicted from their home.
He told him: "The council does not tolerate anti-social behaviour. If you step out of line again the council could go to court and ask for the property back. You have been warned."
The lad did decide to sign up.
Sgt Jim Moatt told The Comet: "The success of Operation Envy has been the result of a close and effective partnership between the Stevenage community team and the borough council. This has enabled us to not only target the young suspects but also to target the parents.
"Evidence shows that in the majority of cases the youths have not reoffended and have adhered to their curfew and location bans and I am sure some of this has been a result of parental support."
* If you are experiencing anti-social behaviour, call the council on 01438 242242.