In September last year Middlesbrough Council and Cleveland Police began working jointly on an intensive approach to support those in the town centre who have serious personal issues to address and who cause issues for others.
Since then, the impact of the work has been significant with the team assisting a number of individuals involved in prolific offending to make necessary lifestyle changes.
Help has included finding them a place to live, help with benefit entitlements, support for drug and alcohol dependency and other medical issues.
Early indications have identified a significant reduction in the daytime problems caused by a core group of individuals in the town centre, while a survey of town centre businesses reporting the number of issues affecting them had gone down and 76% believing the joint team was dealing with the issues.
Middlesbrough Council’s Executive has now given approval for the pilot to be implemented across the whole of Middlesbrough on an incremental basis over three years.
Cllr Mick Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Communities, said: “This preventative model has proved to be extremely effective, particularly for individuals who turn up on doorsteps of a number of agencies presenting a number of problems.
“What this does is work jointly to tackle problems around lack of secure housing and drugs and the resulting effects such as begging and it has proven to be really successful.
“I’m confident this approach will have the same effect across the town – clearly different areas will have different people with different problems and different issues whereas some of the issues in the town centre are specific to a busy town centre environment – but the principle of prevention and assistance should be the same.”
Inspector Rob Jones, of Cleveland Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The joint working of the Town Centre Team has meant better information sharing, closer operational work and better results for the vulnerable people we have been working with. It is a different approach to tackling some of the problems in the town centre but the positive impact it has had already is clear.”
The pilot has seen a small number of Council staff placed within Middlesbrough Police Station to work alongside the central Neighbourhood Policing team.
Teesside University has also part funded a Police Community Support Officer that works with the team.