Out on patrol with the Police tacking teenage anti-social behaviour after Hetton and Houghton residents left too scared to go out at night

Residents have been left scared to leave their homes at night due to misbehaving youths, now Northumbria Police have launched a crack down on anti-social behaviour in Hetton and Houghton.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 5:50 pm

After a spate of problems with youths misbehaving in Hetton and Houghton Police have launched Operation Avalanche to crack down on the problem.

Residents have been left too scared to leave their homes at night after gangs of youths have been gathering, stealing lead and setting fire to wheelie bins.

100 youths dealt with in one day

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Operation Avalanche tackles antisocial behaviour in conjunction with Sunderland Council and Northumbria Police.

Northumbria Police's Inspector Nick Gjorven, is leading the charge on Operation Avalanche which was launched on Saturday, January 18, in response to concerns raised by residents about crime and antisocial behaviour in the area.

On the first day of the operation, officers dealt with around 100 youths in Houghton town centre from across the region. Of them, 26 were stop-checked, nine anti-social behaviour forms were served and three people were handed a dispersal order.

Other issues raised include a window being smashed at Hetton Bus Station which officers say was an isolated incident.

School visits

Operation Avalanche is taking place around Hetton to tackle anti-social behaviour. From left Coun James Blackburn , Sunderland Council ASBO officers Julie Charles and Gillian Coates with Sergeant Simon Marshall.

Supported by Sunderland City Council, this initiative will see officers visit schools and make home visits to ensure the force’s message is being heard.

A mobile police station was also put up in Hetton on Sunday, January 19 where members of the public can drop in and chat to their neighbourhood team.

Increased patrols

Sergeant Simon Marshall, the neighbourhood sergeant for Houghton, said: “Over the last week there’s been a mixture of high visibility patrols in the area and we’ve been running some plain clothed patrols on an evening.

Numerous antisocial incidents have been raised by locals including a smashed window at a bus shelter.

“The most raised issues that we’ve found have been mainly perception. Speaking in Hetton, a lot of people are saying they have concerns about youths and antisocial behaviour. It’s been raised by some people that they are scared to leave their houses on a night but at the same time, while we’ve been patrolling we’ve not seen a huge amount of this behaviour.”

Sgt Marshall is confident that the public will be able to see that steps are being taken to improve these issues and that sufficient action will be taken when incidents arise on patrols.

He added: “We’ve been able to show how our use of dispersals are working. We’re also looking to put a panel together with our partners on how to address the issues. These walkabouts really help us outline the problems.”

Mixed response from local residents

Sunderland Council ASBO officers Julie Charles and Gillian Coates with Coun James Blackburn and Sergeant Simon Marshall had a chat with local resident Derek Tamblin on their walkabout.

Officers spoke to local residents about issues they have witnessed and to explain the operation.

Derek Tamblin said: “I’ve never seen anything myself and I wouldn’t interfere but I think the police are always here and I feel safe because if anything happens, they’re there handy.”

Anthony Collins, 28, said: “I feel better that they’re going to be there but there’s no good coming in the day time, we need patrols in the dark. It is better for me knowing that they’re going to be here with the operation and hopefully they’ll get rid of the trouble.”

On the evening of Friday, January 24, officers and councillors joined together again to hold a public meeting to discuss ongoing issues and to give feedback on the operation so far.