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Police say they have town anti-social behaviour under control

LOCAL police and Frome Town Council have warned residents not to take matters into their own hands in an attempt to stop anti-social behaviour in Frome.

Following recent incidents, a man from Warminster says he has formed a group, Street Safe Community UK, using Frome as a pilot scheme. Avon and Somerset Police have advised against the ‘well intentioned’ group due to safeguarding concerns. 

Gary, who does not wish to reveal his full name, said, “I set up the group as a direct response to the viral Facebook video of those two Frome College students being assaulted. A lot of the comments on the post were saying that they feel vulnerable, and people are worried about their own children’s safety.  

“I was utterly shocked to see that level of violence in a town like Frome, but there seems to be a rising trend of anti-social behaviour in the town, with reports of kids attacking pigeons and cats with catapults, and kids climbing roofs to smoke cannabis. I felt there was a need for a group like a neighbourhood watch that could be more hands-on and more active – not in a violent way at all, but to act as more of a kind deterrent to curb anti-social behaviour and low-level crime. 

“I’ve got military, security and police experience myself and I think the local police are completely overstretched. There are plenty of crimes that do not get reported, as well as plenty of crimes that get reported but don’t get attended by an officer – they send a PSCO instead, and no disrespect to the PCSOs, but they have limited power. 

“We’ve changed our name from Street Safe Battalion to Street Safe Community UK as we had a few comments that people were concerned that we act as a vigilante group – this is not the case, think of us as more of a neighbourhood watch that is community based and non-profit.”  

Avon and Somerset police have said that regardless of how well-intentioned the group’s objectives are, they are concerned over potential safeguarding issues as correct procedures must be used, which would make it not appropriate for the public to get involved. 

Inspector Julie Denny of the Frome Neighbourhood Policing Team said, “We are aware there have been several incidents in the past couple of months, which have appeared on social media. We know these can cause the public concern and we are investigating them.  We hope people can appreciate an image or a short clip on social media does not always show the entire incident and therefore it is only right we thoroughly investigate the circumstances, so we can take appropriate action against the perpetrators. 

“We know each year better weather does tend to lead to an increase in reports of antisocial behaviour; more daylight hours and warmer temperatures mean people tend to be out and about more. We have strategies in place and are working alongside our antisocial behaviour team to make sure people can enjoy the summer months without it being spoilt by a mindless small minority. 

“The number of recorded crimes across Frome remains largely consistent with the levels witnessed before the Covid-19 pandemic and do not believe there is any increased risk to members of the public.  

“Additional patrols are being carried out, in areas such as Victoria Park, to provide reassurance. Where offences do occur, we remain committed to identify those responsible and bring them before the courts. 

“Anyone with concerns can contact the neighbourhood team via our website at: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/your-area.” 

Councillor Nick Dove said, “As a Frome Town councillor and a former police officer with over 30 years of dealing with serious and organised crime in London and elsewhere, I can reassure Frome’s residents and visitors that we live in a wonderfully safe, friendly and welcoming town. Any form of vigilantism just raises the fear of crime and provokes reactions.  

“We have an excellent police service in the UK, albeit they are very stretched. They are not infallible but they will act without fear or favour and their primary function is to prevent crime and protect the public. If you witness crimes taking place, please report it. I have regular meetings with the local police and am very happy to liaise with them if local people feel they are not getting the response they feel is appropriate.”

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