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Round-the-clock security measures to combat yob menace at Firstsite
STREET wardens, security guards and police community support officer have been deployed roundthe- clock at Colchester’s Firstsite art gallery to tackle antisocial behaviour.
Visitors, staff and nearby residents have complained about youngsters hanging around outside.
They have been accused of being intimidating, daubing graffiti and causing criminal damage.
A team of ten Colchester Council street wardens were tasked to patrol the public area in front of the gallery from 8am to 4pm on weekdays.
Outside those hours, the gallery’s security guards will keep watch, in addition to the venue’s CCTV.
However, a resident said the youngsters returned as soon as street wardens and police left. She said: “I cannot see the point of spending all that money on wages. They have no laws to stop the youngsters, other than by their presence.
“If you were a mum or dad going to look at Firstsite, there would be too many kids and that is antisocial in itself. That many kids together with skateboards, making all that noise, can be initimidating.”
Tim Young, councillor for community safety, said: “We had reports from Firstsite, nearby residents and visitors, of the build-up of young people and antisocial behaviour and vandalism going up. We increased patrols and the council’s street wardens and PCSOs have had the desired effect.”
Mr Young said wardens had spoken with youngsters to encourage them to go inside the gallery, instead of hanging around outside.
He said the number of wardens deployed had been reduced to four because matters had improved. He said: “All we have done is shift resources from other areas to Firstsite.
We will regularly review how long we need to keep them there.
“We started with a large presence, but have reduced that and the youngsters haven’t returned. If we need to step it up again, we will, as we need to make the area more welcoming.”
Mr Young said a meeting would be held in December with Firstsite and the police to review the situation.
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