Year-long strategy gets going

A year-long police operation has been launched to tackle criminal damage in Ashington.

Operation Sentinel will run throughout the year and target criminal damage through education, enforcement tackling alcohol-related damage and encouraging youths to get involved with other activities to deter them from committing crime.

The Ashington neighbourhood policing team are implementing the strategy after a recent increase in criminal damage, including reports of wing mirrors being kicked off, car paintwork being scratched and house windows being smashed.

The operation is a multi-agency initiative with agencies working together to develop a long-term solution.

Officers will be on patrol in hot-spot areas, and the team is also working with local schools to educate youths about how these crimes can impact victims and explain the legal consequences.

The initiative will also see offenders doing reparation work within their communities to make them see the visible consequences of committing damage.

Inspector Barrie Joisce said: “This is a warning to anyone who believes this sort of behaviour is acceptable we are watching and will take action on anyone found to be committing such offences.

“I want to reassure residents that their local officers recognise the impact such offences can have and to emphasise that every effort will be made to tackle the issue.

“We know often the damage offences are alcohol-fuelled and strict enforcement action will be taken in relation to street drinking and underage sales of alcohol to youths.”

“We will also be working closely alongside pubs and local off licences to ensure they play their part in reducing underage drinking and ensuring adults drink responsibly.

“It is important offenders understand that drunken and mindless damage impacts on both the victims and ultimately their own lives.

“There is also a strong education theme to the initiative. It is important to recognise that damage is not just a youth issue and that many offences are caused by adults. Measures are being put in place to tackle all types of offenders.”