COUNCILLORS and residents have welcomed a crackdown by police on anti-social behaviour in Earby.
The Town Council has been reporting problems, mainly with congregating groups of youths, for months.
Speaking at the latest West Craven Community Safety meeting, Sgt Damian Pemberton said there had been an explosion in trouble over two weekends, centred around a power cut and a rumour there was a house party in Waddington Street.
He also said there had been a dramatic reduction in the number of anti-social behaviour incidents reported in Barnoldswick, but that a crackdown there had pushed troublemakers across to Earby. He said: “The neighbourhood policing team have been on the ball with nuisance in Valley Gardens and Calf Hall Road, as well as Simpson Close and Victory Park. In a nutshell we have hammered Barnoldswick, and Earby has just got it. About 200 kids turned up en masse on the night of a power cut and gave officers the run around the next weekend too. Everything just spiralled and word has got round that Earby is the place to go to avoid being seen. Now we are onto them, we are starting to displace them back to Barnoldswick, but there are still some stubborn groups for us to deal with.”
Town councillor Vera Cocker said she was worried the pattern of behaviour was similar to that seen in Earby seven years ago.
“A tremendous amount of hard work was put in by police,” she said. “And we ended up with Earby being quite a normal place to live again. Sadly over the past 18 months we have seen a downturn and once again we have great numbers of youths gathering up and down Earby and in the centre, mainly outside off-licences, takeaways and the Co-op.”
She said problems included big groups blocking pavements and being abusive to people who ask them to move, riding bikes without lights, giving foul-mouthed abuse, throwing stones, spitting and using doorways as urinals. Sgt. Pemberton said he did not think the issue was linked to the suspension of New Road Community Centre’s youth club over the summer. He said: “The kids that are causing the problems are not the sort who go to youth clubs and the majority are not bad kids but are just tagging along from Barnoldswick.
“We had a similar problem in Barrowford a couple of summers ago when there was an influx of kids. There was so much damage caused in the park and to people’s cars.
“It turned out to be two brothers from Nelson and they would be in Barrowford Park and everyone just turned up. They were the cool kids everyone wanted to hang out with.
“In Earby it’s just five or six kids that are a problem but then they’ve got 40 or 50 trying to hang around them The main offenders have been told in no uncertain terms in front of their parents they will be prosecuted.
Sgt. Pemberton also praised the work of two PCSOs appointed as dedicated youth officers. He said: “They are really experienced and are not just getting in their faces as a uniform but really engaging with them. They are speaking to them as they come in and out of school and getting to the root of the issues. The most effective way is to get the kids on board.”