WHAT can be done about anti-social behaviour in Brampton? That was the question put to Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, at last week's Brampton parish council meeting.

With passion that reflected his concern for the Brampton community, parish council chairman David Moorat spoke at length about the effect of anti-social behaviour on the town. “Many elderly are fearful of damage to their property,” he said.

“Some families are reluctant to allow their children out in the evening, in case they get mixed up innocently with the bad guys.”

One recent instance of anti-social behaviour that caused distress among the parish council was the vandalism of bus shelters in The Sands area of Brampton. The cost of replacing the two shelters would be about £3,600.

“The Council have got no money to pay for it,” Mr Moorat continued.

“If these are repaired, what's the guarantee that these youths will not come back and smash it up again.”

But Mr Moorat stressed that he was not looking to label all young people in Brampton as troublemakers.

“It's important first of all before we start that 99.5% of families and children in Brampton are respectful, responsible, and they don't engage in anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“Sadly, it's that remaining 0.5% that are causing us trouble.”

He also wanted to reassure Mr McCall that Brampton parish council were not seeking to criticise the police.

“I honestly want to reassure the police that this council and the community that we have present here tonight, we wish to give you 100%, even more, support in your increasingly difficult task in dealing with crime and disorder within your drastically limited financial resources.

However, Mr Moorat explained to Mr McCall that the parish council were aware of a sense of futility among some residents, who felt the police were not responding sufficiently to their concerns.

“They are seriously worried about what appears to be immunity of these known culprits.

“They, and their parents now, seem to appear quite confident that it's unlikely that they will get prosecuted. “If that's the case, then our parishioners have regularly told us, at meetings with them, their fears for the future.

“The problem is the general public have lost faith.”

However Mr McCall was eager to reassure the meeting and the rest of Brampton that even if immediate results were not seen, every report of anti-social behaviour helped the police.

“Policing works on evidence or intelligence,” Mr McCall said.

“When you report something in, even if you don't see a response, that evidence or that intelligence is gathered and analysed.

“And it's that that comes together to paint the picture for the problem-solving teams, and then when they amass enough intelligence, it starts flashing in red lights, and that's when you see action.”

“Be assured if nothing else happens, that intelligence picture is being built up,” Mr McCall said.

“And names in particular, if a certain name keeps coming up in lights, then trust me, that will trigger a response.”

He also stressed that Cumbria's proactive policing teams will be working to have a positive impact on anti-social behaviour in Brampton and the rest of the county.

The proactive policing teams, which were first put into action last week, are made up of 25 newly-recruited officers whose sole function is to work with neighbourhoods to tackle issues like anti-social behaviour.

Mr McCall explained that the proactive policing teams will employ a variety of methods to deal with anti-social behaviour.

“There is a place of course for softer tactics and working, particularly with anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“But there does come a point where if we think people really are not responding to that, then the only option is to take a more robust approach, and that's what the proactive policing teams will be doing.

“They can only do that though, if we're feeding them the information.

“And it's only by building that up, that the proactive teams will be targeted where the real problems are.

“And if we have a particular individual or individuals who think they are above the law, I'm really keen that we make the point to them that they are not.”

Mr McCall also highlighted schemes such as police cadets and Mini police for younger children, which he added are a “runaway success and oversubscribed.” He sees these sorts of schemes as important or engaging with young people in a positive way.

He pointed out that the root of anti-social behaviour among young people can often be boredom.

“Kids have always said ‘I'm bored, there's nothing to do.’” “As a kid growing up in Wigton, I said the same things,” Mr McCall continued.

That is a perennial problem, but I do believe that part of the answer to this is diversion. If they are hanging around, they will get into trouble eventually.

And what really concerns me about that is misbehaving around the town centre is one thing, but very easily that can lead them being drawn into more serious crime. And actually that's what we should be really worried about.

“So I absolutely agree with you that finding ways of entertaining them, keeping them occupied, is definitely one of the tactics.”

Mr McCall’s calm words of reassurance that Cumbria police are taking anti-social behaviour in Brampton seriously appeared to strike a positive chord with Brampton parish council.

“It was a positive meeting, definitely,” said Chairman David Moorat after the meeting had concluded.

He recognised that faith in Cumbria police had ebbed away among some Brampton residents, attributing this to a feeling of being left out of the loop on their response.

But he felt that Mr McCall had taken this sentiment on board.

“I think he is aware of what our problems are and I think he's a genuine bloke and I think he's committed to working with us,” Mr Moorat said.

“I have always got faith in Cumbria Police. I'm just aware how difficult it is for them to manage with the resources they're given.

“We've also got to really work hard on convincing the parishioners in the town that yes, please, report anything. Because the police need you. You know, they can only go on the intelligence that's coming in.

“And if we want the anti-social behaviour to stop, let's make sure we report anything we see of an anti-social behaviour nature to the police.

“And eventually they'll build up such a good picture, then they will be able to stop it.”