Sixteen arrests and dozens banned from city centre as part of crime crackdown in Sunderland city centre
More than a dozen people were taken into police custody after a week of action targeting anti-social behaviour and crime in Sunderland city centre.
Sixteen people were arrested on suspicion of causing city-centre related crime and disorder, and Northumbria Police also issued 28 dispersal orders as part of a seven-day campaign aimed at cracking down on alcohol and drug-related anti-social behaviour.
Business owners had complained of drug taking, drunks and fighting in the streets which had been blighting the city centre.
Guenghan He, owner of oriental food store, Cook It Yourself, on St Thomas' Street said the problems were happening all through the day, not just on an evening.
The crackdown came just months after Sunderland BID complained that the city centre had an ongoing issue with people defecating in the streets.
Northumbria Police said that officers carried out increased patrols across the area, and used dispersal orders to stop groups people from congregating in a number of locations.
Sergeant Maria Ord, who led the operation, said: “We are absolutely delighted with how the operation went and the feedback that we have received has been unanimously positive.
“Operation Justice was all about tackling individuals who were repeatedly involved in anti-social behaviour and were bringing misery to businesses and shoppers alike.”
The 16 people arrested have now either been charged or summonsed to court, Sgt Ord added, and it is hoped that the force can build on the operation’s success in the run-up to Christmas.
She continued: “While Operation Justice may have come to an end, our commitment to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in our city centre certainly has not and we will look to build on the success of this initiative during the busy weeks and months to come.
“Our message remains the same – anyone who gets involved in criminality or anti-social behaviour will be dealt with robustly, and we will continue to work with all our city centre partners to ensure this city remains a safe place for businesses and shoppers alike.”
Police used stop-and-search powers to search five people during the week-long operation, and spoke to 27 people over their future behaviour.
Joint patrols were also carried out with Sunderland City Council officers, while the council’s CCTV operators worked hand-in-hand with police to identify offenders and target hotspot areas.
Both Sunderland BID and the city council have also praised the success of the operation – and criticised the bad behaviour of the small minority, and the impact it can have.
Councillor Michael Mordey, deputy council leader and chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “Sunderland remains an overwhelmingly safe city and the council, the police, businesses and partners all continue to work hard at keeping it that way.
“This week of action has seen us taking further robust and targeted action against anti-social behaviour. There are only a small number of people involved in anti-social behaviour, yet their actions can have a major impact on residents, visitors and businesses.
“We are making clear with this week’s actions that this minority are not welcome or tolerated, and the courts now have several more cases to consider.”