Dear Editor

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill has decided to launch a survey on anti-social behaviour (ASB). I welcome it. It’s time this issue became a much bigger policing priority.

Of the 10 forces in the south of England, outside London, Dorset has had the second worst rate of ASB since 2013. That places us currently 30th in the country. These comparisons matter and they reveal an uncomfortable truth.

We all know that ASB can be the starting point for further criminality. If left unchecked, it inevitably leads to even worse issues.

My own crime survey conducted before lockdown, with more than 650 people from right across Dorset, highlighted ASB as the crime most likely to affect them. In fact, over 20% felt unsafe in their own town centres. The majority want to see much more visible, firm policing to address this.

I have been campaigning on this specific issue for over a year and know what is required:

  • A clear vision to make Dorset the safest county in the UK
  • A mission to reduce crime and ASB
  • Robust enforcement
  • More visible neighbourhood policing teams
  • Improved communication with other stakeholders such as councils
  • Strengthening of affected communities

That, however, only addresses the short-term, for example when the problem is on your doorstep. What we also need are specific programmes to address the causes of ASB and prevent the disruption it causes to our daily lives.

Whether it is youngsters, those with addictions, or any other groups or individuals, it is important to understand the foundation and triggers for the behaviour and take measures to address these. The future needs to be fixed, too, with a new culture around building mutual respect and individual responsibility. I believe in prevention as much as enforcement.

While I commend Mr Underhill for his survey and encourage all to take part, I hope I already have a good understanding of what is needed. It’s been an issue since 2012, and Dorset now needs a new vision and, above all, action.

Dave Sidwick

Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dorset