Police were in St Albans City Centre on Wednesday (February 20) as part of an on-going operation to address rough sleeping, anti-social behaviour, street drinking and thefts.
Officers carried out the targeted action from 10am to 3pm with partners from St Albans City and District Council.
As part of this, rough sleepers were spoken to and given a letter which lists the local support services available to them.
It also highlights that begging, street drinking and drug use are all forms of anti-social behaviour and the police action that can be taken in relation to these matters.
During the patrols officers arrested a suspected shoplifter who has subsequently been charged*. As a result of the operation a weapon (a knife) was taken off the streets.
They also responded to reports of a homeless man acting anti-socially outside the Entertainer toy shop. He was given verbal and written warnings about his behaviour, which included a Community Protection Warning with the following conditions:
- Not to sit or lie in the doorways of commercial properties (shops, restaurants, banks, cafes, etc.) in St Albans District
- Not to sit or lie on the ground directly in front of commercial properties in St Albans District
- Not to leave personal belongings including bedding unattended on any land, whether private or council owned, or within any building without the consent of the landlord
- Not to be rude or abusive to any member of the public or to police officers and police staff in Hertfordshire
If this type of behaviour continues further action can be taken.
Enquiries with partner agencies managed to secure the man a bed at a night shelter but unfortunately he declined this offer.
St Albans Safer Neighbourhood Inspector Andy Wiseman said: “We work with our partners to ensure that those who are rough sleeping in St Albans are offered the appropriate support to help them turn their lives around.
“However, as part of this we must also tackle any anti-social behaviour that could cause harassment, alarm or distress to the wider community and those visiting the city centre.
“Those committing anti-social behaviour can be made the subject of a Community Protection Notice Warning and if the behaviour continues this can be escalated to a Community Behaviour Order.
“Further action, where required, can include the use of dispersal powers, arrest and the person being summoned to court.”
Councillor Salih Gaygusuz, portfolio holder for business and the community for St Albans City and District Council, said: “Our community safety team went out on patrol with the police to assist with their efforts to help rough sleepers.
“This was a successful and valuable exercise that responded to public concern about the presence of a number of rough sleepers as well as begging and other anti-social behaviour.
“We’ll continue to encourage rough sleepers to take up the offers of help available to them while also advising them of their responsibilities to others such as local businesses and landowners.
“In this regard, we recently produced a leaflet, entitled Concerned About A Rough Sleeper? and distributed it around the city. It gives details about the support on offer which will help to ensure no-one needs to sleep rough in St Albans.”