Police stop more than 100 people in Sunderland city centre in anti-social behavior crackdown

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Police officers have stopped more than 100 people, issued nine criminal protection notices for disorder and made three arrests as part of festive operation which has seen a fall in anti-social behaviour.

Anti-social behaviour has nearly halved in Sunderland city centre after Operation Elf was launched to tackle crime and disorder in the lead up to Christmas.

Working in partnership with Sunderland City Council, Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) and the Bridges, officers have been carrying out targeted patrols in the city centre as part of Operation Elf to tackle anti-social behaviour and violent crime – as well as ensuring the safety of shoppers.

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The operation has seen an increased police presence in and around the city centre to coincide with the increased footfall that spikes during the Christmas countdown – and any crime that could come as a result.

Officers on patrol as part of Operation ElfOfficers on patrol as part of Operation Elf
Officers on patrol as part of Operation Elf

During the first fortnight of the operation, police stopped more than 100 individuals, issued nine criminal protection notices for disorder, made three arrests and issued three summons to court. A number of dispersal orders were also put in place to tackle pockets of disorder.

Sergeant Maria Ord, who is spearheading Operation Elf, said: “We know that 2020 has been a really challenging and different year for all our communities and nowhere has that been more evident than in our city centre.

“However, as expected, we have seen a gradual increase in footfall across the city centre throughout December as shoppers come into the city to spend their money.

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“Operation Elf was launched with assistance by the local authority and our business partners to ensure the safety of those shoppers, both in terms of ensuring they are Covid compliant but also making sure criminals do not seek to take advantage.

Operation Elf has seen a decreased in the number of anti-social behaviour related incidents compared to last yearOperation Elf has seen a decreased in the number of anti-social behaviour related incidents compared to last year
Operation Elf has seen a decreased in the number of anti-social behaviour related incidents compared to last year

“I’m absolutely delighted that the figures reflect what our officers have experienced. This year we have seen countless examples of the North-east coming together and showing the spirit that this region is famed for, and that has continued over the last couple of weeks.”

This year, during the first two weeks of the operation from December 1 until December 14, officers saw a 43% reduction in anti-social behaviour for the same period of last year, while overall recorded incidents dropped by 30%.

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Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness added: “There’s been a great deal of work happening of late, from lots of early intervention initiatives through my Violence Reduction Unit to successful policing operations like this.

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“Our police have really been stepping efforts up to tackle anti-social behaviour in the Sunderland area and I’m pleased, for local people, that we’re seeing a positive impact.

“This really shows that despite the challenges brought upon the Force by Covid-19, we are really continuing to fight crime and prevent crime and people will see lots more of this policing throughout the festive period.”

Operation Elf has been hugely boosted by officers working hand-in-hand with Sunderland City Council and the business community to identify pockets of disorder and ensure swift intervention.

Kirsty Currie, Operations Manager at Sunderland BID, added: “After such a difficult year for trading our centre businesses are relying on everyone’s support by shopping local, but we have to ensure it is done safely for everyone’s benefit.”

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