Police have launched a city centre crackdown as the countdown to Christmas in Sunderland begins.
Officers are working in partnership with Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) and The Bridges as they look to target regular offenders and create a safe city centre environment heading into the festive period.
As part of Operation Jasper, police will have an increased presence within the city centre day and at night to deter criminals and offer reassurance to residents and businesses.
This fresh push will then lead into Operation Kraken from November 25, the city centre initiative which was successfully launched last year to tackle shoplifting and antisocial behaviour in the lead-up to Christmas.
Sergeant Maria Ord, of Northumbria Police, said: “As we prepare to see an increase in footfall in the city centre over the coming weeks, police are delighted to be working in partnership with Sunderland BID and The Bridges to ensure shoppers and businesses remain safe and secure.
“The operation will see more officers on patrol in the city centre, working closely with partners to catch criminals and ensure anybody who commits crime and disorder over the festive period is dealt with swiftly and robustly.
“This is an exciting time of year and we are looking forward to welcoming shoppers and families into the city as they begin the countdown to Christmas. It is therefore vitally important that we work closely with businesses and organisations to create a hassle-free, safe environment for shoppers and retailers.
“We do not apologise for this zero tolerance approach, and our message is clear; anyone who decides to engage in criminality or antisocial behaviour, which threatens the festive spirit within our city centre, will face action and could spend Christmas behind bars.”
Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operation at Sunderland BID, said: “Partnership is at the heart of everything we do at the BID and at this time of year it’s really important to create the best possible trading environment for our businesses, to ensure that staff and visitors feel safe.
“Working with both The Bridges and Northumbria Police means we can reinforce our zero tolerance approach to crime and highlight that Sunderland city centre is fantastic place to work and visit.”
Andy Bradley, Centre Director at The Bridges, also threw his support behind the initiative.
He said: “The Bridges is fully behind this initiative as we have been in previous years and we look forward to a busy run-up to Christmas for both our shoppers and retailers.
“We want shoppers to enjoy the festive experience, safe in the knowledge that they come to the city centre and enjoy a positive and welcoming atmosphere.”
Anyone with concerns about crime or disorder can contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101.