Sussex PCC video log: PCSOs visit 900 families to help combat rise in anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour has risen by 55% in Sussex over the last seven months with 1,945 incidents recorded in February to 4,315 in August. Although a large proportion of this can be attributed to Covid guideline breaches, young people have still been involved in over 1,500 of incidents recorded in that time.
There is understandable concern from police and partners that this behaviour could escalate into more serious criminality if they do not intervene and provide wrap around support at the earliest possible opportunity.
Police Community Support Officers have visited the homes of 900 families over the last year as part of the Police & Crime Commissioner’s REBOOT programme and, during lockdown, officers have continued their vital interventions via telephone to help combat this rise. They are now resuming home visits.
With funding from PCC Katy Bourne, Sussex Police is working with NHS Partnership Trust, Youth Offending Service and local charities in order to deliver REBOOT. This is a county-wide, early intervention programme that engages with young people at risk of falling into a pattern of violent or criminal behaviour.
Now, if a vulnerable young person comes to the attention of Sussex Police, stage one will see them referred into the REBOOT scheme. Once accepted, a PCSO visits their home to speak to the young person involved and their parent/guardian. They will notify the family of the young person’s behaviour and talk about the potential consequences if they continue. They also make the young person aware of more positive activities in their area that they could get involved in.
Just by engaging the whole family in this way, 74% of young people have not come to the attention of the police again or needed to be escalated to stage two of the programme where they would be assigned a REBOOT Youth Coach.
PCSO Celia Joyce is an advocate of the REBOOT scheme and says that it has helped Sussex Police to manage young people’s behaviour in lockdown: “At the moment with Covid there are less things open and less for young people to do so we are finding that they are hanging around in large groups and are getting up to things they maybe wouldn’t before because they are bored.
“Our REBOOT visits give us the opportunity to deter them from this behaviour and chat to them about why it isn’t safe to be gathering in large groups at the moment and how their actions may be affecting the community.
“We also want to help these young people not fall into the wrong crowds and potentially become involved in more serious criminality. They may see their behaviour as ‘harmless’ now, but we know that it can escalate very quickly.
“It’s great to be able to talk 1-1 with them and steer them in the right direction if they have lost their way a bit.”
PCSO Chloe Darling has been serving Sussex communities for just 10 weeks and has already seen the positive impact that the intervention visits with REBOOT have on young people and their families.
She says: “In my first week of the job I visited a 14-year-old boy who has gone missing multiple times. His mum was really worried as he was disappearing for a couple of days at a time and we were concerned that he may have been involved in county lines.
“Falling off the grid for such long period of times can mean that these young people are travelling out of the county and getting up to potentially dangerous things.
“When he was found we spoke to him at his house at great length about the consequences of his actions, the dangers and the worry his family feel when he goes missing.
“We found out that he was not involved in county lines but was hanging around with people known to the police. Since our conversation, I’m happy to say he has not come to our attention again and is back on the straight and narrow.”
Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne says: “I’m pleased that REBOOT is continuing to make such a positive impact to our communities, even in lockdown.
“Police Community Support Officers and Prevention Youth Officers are such an asset to Sussex Police and the REBOOT scheme, they provide that first stage of reassurance to worried families and, in a huge amount of cases, the young people engage so well with them that they do not require further intervention.
“We are cracking down on anti-social behaviour whilst at the same time safeguarding vulnerable young people from potential exploitation and empowering them to do the right thing.”
Chief Constable Jo Shiner says: “It is fantastic to hear the positive stories of how our some of our newest recruits are making a difference to young people and families in Sussex through the REBOOT programme.
“We continue to see how the support offered to young people through partnership initiatives like REBOOT help keep our communities safe by preventing crime.”
Find out more here: www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/rebootYou can follow @RebootSussex on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.