Even though it was only launched 11 months ago, Longtown CAP has already brought about a hugely impressive 80% reduction in anti-social behaviour locally.
The CAP started in June 2018 after residents voiced their concerns about levels of underage drinking and anti-social behaviour in the town.
Its co-ordinator Scott Adams, who is Neighbourhood Policing and Community Sergeant for the Cumbria Constabulary, says: “Our success is really down to the skills and expertise of the partners we have brought together to tackle the issue. They’ve been a real a catalyst for action.”
Partners include local councils, police, schools, retailers and health and neighbourhood groups plus Longtown Community Centre, Riverside Housing, Carlisle Football Club and many others.
Their success has come about by focussing on both the supply and the demand side of underage drinking – working with retailers to ensure they challenge for ID and holding a series of test purchase operations to test stores on their vigilance when selling alcohol to those they suspect might be underage. The CAP has also highlighted the issue of proxy purchase, when adults buy alcohol for children, and the penalties for doing so.
"It is important to educate licensees and retailers about challenging those under 25, to limit the access that youngsters have to alcohol," says Scott. “However, it is also important to educate those young people in the hope we can prevent them from misusing alcohol not only while they are underage, but in later life too.”
Scott says the vital part of the CAP’s work has been engaging with young people, getting them involved with the campaign and building their trust.
The CAP held five engagement nights with them to discuss the issue of underage drinking and anti-social behaviour. “They told us there was nothing for them to do – the community centre had no funding, access to the sports field had been closed off and there were very few facilities for young people,” says Scott.
“Having gained their trust, we were careful not to over-promise, but we set about fundraising so we could renovate a room at the community centre that they could use, and for a paid worker to run sessions with them.”
So far the CAP has gained £7,000 worth of funding from partners including CAP, the Police and local councils Cumbria Police Crime Commissioner, and hopes to increase that to £12,000 shortly. It has held community events, reopened access to the sports field and held street art sessions when young people came up with designs for a huge 8x4 foot sign (pictured above) that will be hung in the room at the community centre. It is hoped the renovated room will be ready to open early this summer and additional activities like outward bound trips and park runs are also planned.
Scott says: “Working hard to engage with this traditionally difficult-to-reach group has been key to our success. They’ve told us what they want and need, and the CAP is working hard to provide it. Residents’ complaints to police about anti-social behaviour have reduced significantly as a result.”