How police are tackling crime in Sunderland city centre after assaults and violence increase following reopening of night-time economy

Policing teams on Wearside say they are making positive gains tackling youth and adult antisocial behaviour in the city centre, despite an upturn in the number of incidents.
Police have given an update on tackling crime in Sunderland city centre.Police have given an update on tackling crime in Sunderland city centre.
Police have given an update on tackling crime in Sunderland city centre.

City councillors received an update from Northumbria Police on targeted work in recent months.

Although total crime had increased across the ‘alpha one’ area – namely the city centre, Millfield and Ashbrooke – top cops believe this is mainly linked to assaults and violent crime linked to the night-time economy reopening.

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In the same area, there was also a large spike in youth antisocial behaviour.

However police inspector, Jamie Southwell, stressed there was proactive work taking place to tackle localised ssues in the city centre.

“We have just started a joint operation with our sister neighbourhood teams at Sunderland north and with British Transport Police as well to tackle an emerging issue with youth antisocial behaviour in the city centre,” he said.

“We have had some incidents in the last three to four weeks where we’ve got a group of youths who had committed some unprovoked attacks on other teenagers and also on adults.

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“This is a new emerging group, the ringleader who we have identified after viewing hours and hours of footage was arrested on Friday and dealt with for [several] different offences […] we’ve got footage of a couple of violent attacks.

“We have established quite a few of the teenagers who are part of the group are travelling across from Sunderland north.

“So rather than just deal with that in isolation with the city centre team, we’re working with the teams of Sunderland north and British Transport Police and that will involve a lot of wider work, [including with] Together for Children, to try and have a positive impact on those children and their families sooner rather than later.”

Insp Southwell was speaking at a meeting East Sunderland Area Committee at Sunderland Civic Centre during a general crime update.

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He told councillors that targeted work had also been taking place to tackle adult antisocial behaviour in the Sunniside area – with more than 1,300 hours of police resources deployed over July and August.

Insp Southwell went on to say: “We have had a lot of police resource there which has meant that we have taken a lot of focused action against the targets.

“We have issued 30 community protection warnings and community protection notices, 30 is a significant number for one team to do.

“We have issued breach letters, public spaces protection orders, dispersals and we have also arrested a couple of the main offenders for burglary and robbery which has meant that they have now got custodial sentences.

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“The fact that they’re now in jail and the fact that we have had so much police resource there and we have been very robust, means that the Sunniside area is now much much quieter than it was at the start of the summer.”

Insp Southwell added work was taking place with some housing companies in the city centre to identify and tackle “ringleaders” linked to antisocial behaviour.

While acknowledging that targeted police work will “naturally displace” some or part of groups into other areas, he reassured councillors that the police would act to deal with any antisocial behaviour, disorder or violent offences.

The police inspector added: “Quite often some of those people are simply just sitting or socialising, it’s when the behaviour then escalates later in the day that we might need to take action, so it’s a really fine balancing act.

“So have we displaced them from Sunniside? Possibly on some days yes, possibly on some days no -it’s other people from other areas of the city.

“But it’s like every other city centre, it’s the same with the youth antisocial behaviour in the summer when the schools close, local children tend to come into the city centre and then we deal with them in whatever way we need to.”

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