UPDATE: No extra policing for crackdown on violence, drug use and nuisance driving around Dartford town centre
PUBLISHED: 12:31 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:32 08 September 2017
Dartford council is looking to implement a Public Space Protection Order by the end of the year
A clamp down on violence, anti-social driving and drug-related behaviour around Dartford town centre may have to begin without any additional policing.
Last night cabinet members gave final approval for a Public Space Protection Order, as a survey revealed 45 per cent of residents feel unsafe walking through the town centre at night.
But with the order set to come in around November, Kent Police has confirmed it cannot deploy any additional officers to enforce it.
The PSPO aims to penalise people taking “intoxicating substances”, excluding medicines and tobacco, as well as nuisance driving, violent behaviour and other anti-social behaviour.
Anyone caught breaking the order could face a £100 fine.
Westgate Car Park, opposite Air & Breathe nightclub, has been identified as a hotspot for “large groups of young people” gathering around cars and “taking intoxicating substances, which may or may not be prohibited,” according to council documents.
Chief inspector Gary Woodward said: “We support the local authority’s plan to implement a PSPO. However we must ensure our resources are allocated effectively and deployed according to the level of risk, harm and threat in a particular community.
“We are currently conducting a review of how our officers are deployed in Dartford overnight at weekends.
“We will look to implement this in the near future and it will involve the deployment of police officers, officers from the Special Constabulary, police and community support officers and partners.”
Council leader Jeremy Kite said he was “not disappointed” with the force’s decision, telling us: “We designed this with open eyes, we can’t expect it to come in force and demand more of our police, who are already busy enough.
“We have enough wardens and infrastructure in place to make sure the PSPO is enforced properly, once the police have their review the PSPO is something they’ll be able to use to measure what is going on around the town centre, and deploy officers accordingly.”
Some of that infrastructure will have been funded by a £31,857 grant from police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott, issued earlier this year.
The grant however, cannot be spent on additional policing, as a PCC spokesperson explained: “A condition of the funding was that it should not be used to replace cuts in statutory funding and must not duplicate areas where the PCC already provides a contribution – such as operational policing.”
The grant is normally spent in different areas, such as providing CCTV and working with community groups to tackle crime.
The order will cover central park, the entirety of the town centre and Prospect Place car park, near Pizza Hut and B&Q.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Gravesend Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.