POLICE say a town-wide operation has helped change the drinking culture in Hartlepool.
It is two-and-a-half years since Respect Hartlepool was launched to target three major areas of crime: shoplifting, drink-fuelled violence, and domestic abuse.
The Mail-backed initiative has been hailed a success by police chiefs and this week we are taking a look at each of the categories to see how officers have been tackling the most persistent criminals.
Since August 2010, a string of initiatives have been launched to tackle alcohol-related violence.
Temporary Superintendent Jon Green, of Hartlepool Police, said: “Since the launch of Respect Hartlepool, I believe there has been a change in the drinking culture in Hartlepool town centre.
“Statistics for violent crime in the night-time economy have remained static around that time, but sometimes statistics do not tell the full story and we have worked hard with agencies and licensees to make the town centre a nicer and safer place to visit.”
The drinking spots in Victoria Road and Church Street cause a headache for officers as around 20 violent crimes are linked to nights out each month.
That figure has seen a raft of schemes launched, from giving doorstaff radios to alert each other to using powers such as Directions to Leave Orders and Drinking Banning Orders to make sure likely offenders don’t get the chance to inflict violence by excluding them from the centre of town.
Street pastors have also joined the crowds on a night and have been on hand to help people home, comfort people in distress and defuse situations.
Licensees have played their part, particularly through a “barred from one, barred from all” scheme that sees the most persistent offenders kept out of all establishments.
Trevor Wilding, chairman of the Hartlepool Licensees’ Association (HLA) and landlord at the Jacksons Arms, in Tower Street, said he has seen a difference in the last two years.
He added: “We are always going to get some type of trouble, but with all the different deterrents we have now, it makes it a lot easier to stop problems starting.
“There has definitely been improvements in the last two years.”
l Later this week, find out how police have been tackling domestic abuse during Respect Hartlepool.