Springwatch Returns

Successful SpringWatch campaign returns


A successful campaign which aims to clamp down on anti-social behaviour during the lighter evenings has been re-launched in St Helens.

Now in its sixth year, the SpringWatch campaign sees St Helens Council, Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service join forces to target issues such as off-road vehicle nuisance, arson, and neighbourhood noise, which often increases when the clocks go forward.

Colette McIntyre, Anti-Social Behaviour Manager for Safer Communities at St Helens Council, said:  "As people enjoy the weather and take advantage of the lighter evenings, it's easy to forget how some activities can impact on others' enjoyment of life at home, often without realising it.

"Everyone has different tolerance levels and by raising awareness of the potential impact of our behaviour we can all enjoy a safer spring period.

"When you see off-road vehicles out causing a nuisance in the community, or anyone looking to set a nuisance fire in parks, please report it to the Police on 101. This type of behaviour will not be tolerated, and the police will seize off-road vehicles and take legal action on arson."

The campaign is having is having an impact though as Merseyside Police figures show that the number of calls made to report inappropriate vehicle use dropped by almost half (48 per cent) when comparing April 2014 and April 2015. Complaints about anti-social behaviour also decreased by 4 per cent in the same period -all due to fewer instances of crime.

This year's crackdown has already begun too, with police seizing an off-road motorbike at Sidings Lane Nature Reserve, Rainford, earlier this month.

St Helens Neighbourhood Sergeant Leigh Price said: "As the nights get lighter our focus on all forms of anti-social behaviour will be increasing, particularly anti-social behaviour caused by off-road scrambler motorbikes. We will not tolerate and will act quickly to target those responsible. Users of such vehicles are a nuisance; they have no consideration whatsoever for residents and can place pedestrians, other road users and any person wishing to enjoy public spaces at risk.

"I am keen to know who the users of such vehicles are, where they are stored and the details of any vehicles they are using to transport themselves from place to place. This is so that we can visit them in their homes and exercise our powers to rid our roads and open spaces of these vehicles. With your help we want to make life safer and more peaceful for all residents.

"Merseyside Police has had recent success across the force against the illegal and nuisance use of scrambler bikes and quad bikes, both through arrests and the recovery of bikes, but we remain committed to removing this blight from our communities.

"We will continue to take action whenever the community tells us there are problems. I would appeal to anyone with information about illegal or nuisance scrambler bikes in their areas to get in touch with us and I can assure them that we will take action. We will be concentrating on areas where people have told us they are suffering because of the way scrambler and quad bikes are being ridden and used."

Stephanie Catterall, Community Fire Protection & Arson Reduction Officer for the St Helens district for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: "This year we are not only looking at grass fires, which have been started deliberately, but also fly-tipping and wheelie bins which can also be a target for anti-social behaviour. We are working hard to reduce these types of fires across and will work closely with the police to help catch those responsible."

"We will be visiting primary and secondary schools as well as visiting youth clubs and alternative educational centres."

Young people can also access a range of activities throughout the duration of the campaign with St Helens Council's Youth Action Zone.

Anyone with information can call police via the 101 number, or dial 999 in the event of an emergency or if there is a crime in progress. Alternatively, people can pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers, 24 hours a day, on 0800 555 111.

For more information about the SpringWatch campaign visit www.safersthelens.org.uk

To find out more about the Youth Action Zone see www.sthelens.gov.uk/yaz  or visit their Facebook page - www.facebook.com/yazsthelens