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Community can have their say on new powers to tackle anti-social behaviour in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 13:01 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:01 21 April 2017

The 
Thomas Paine statue outside Kings House in Thetford.
Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Thomas Paine statue outside Kings House in Thetford. Picture: Sonya Duncan

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2009

Residents in Thetford, which has problems with anti-social behaviour, are being urged to have their say on new powers which can help tackle the issue.

Currently, Designated Public Place Orders (more commonly known as alcohol exclusion zones) are in place in the town.

Under changes in legislation, these orders will automatically become Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) in October 2017.

MORE - Breckland communities will be consulted on legislation which will give more powers to tackle anti-social behaviour

The PSPOs allow the district council to be more flexible with what is categorised as anti-social behaviour and how it is dealt with.

They can be used to place restrictions on nuisance and persistent behaviour which is detrimental to the quality of life of residents, visitors and businesses.

The first consultation will run in Thetford from Friday, April 21 until Friday, May 12, and Breckland Council will be consulting with the other four market towns in the district, to see if they would like to widen existing powers in their town to include additional nuisance behaviours such as spitting and dog fouling.

Thetford Town Council, the police and the Safer Thetford Action Group will be asked for their views and people can also comment on which areas of the town centre they feel should be covered.

Chief Inspector Paul Wheatley, Breckland District Commander, said: “We have a strong partnership with Breckland Council and welcome the PSPO in the town.

“It is important to understand the needs of the local community so please take some time to complete the consultation document, which can be found online. We also have a quantity that can be completed at Thetford’s public enquiry office.”

Graham Parker, chairman of STAG, said: “We are pleased that Breckland Council are consulting with the police and the community. The PSPO covers a lot of areas and we want to find out from the community what they want to be covered.”

Mr Parker said he believes there are perceptions of what is happening in the town centre which make people uneasy.

He said: “It is about addressing the perceptions in the town. People go into town and they see groups of people hanging around and people don’t know what they are doing.

“We think the PSPO will say to people, look, the powers are in place for the police to tackle issues and it will show people that those people are just groups of friends who are having fun.

“The thought of crime is worse than crime itself. If action is seen to be taken we think people will feel more comfortable.”

Thetford Town Council have said they fully support the consultation and would encourage all residents to submit their views.

Once the Thetford consultation closes, residents in Attleborough, Dereham, Watton and Swaffham will also be consulted.

Councillor Paul Claussen, Breckland Council executive member for place, said: “We see this change in legislation as an opportunity to find out about the concerns of local people and then to develop tailored PSPOs for each of our market towns, shaped by their feedback.

Once the findings have been analysed, a report will go to cabinet in the summer outlining the proposed new restrictions residents would like to be considered for each town.

The online consultation for Thetford can be found here and paper copies will be available at the Thetford Town Council offices, Breckland House and Thetford Library.

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