Statistics given to the Town Centre Forum today from North Wales Police say that recorded crime in Wrexham town centre is down by 17.7% since 2012.
This was broken down to a 12.2% reduction in victim based crime, which in ‘people’ terms means 150 fewer based victims. North Wales Police said: “The gains there are a credit to everyone, but makes it tougher this year.”
Further figures were not revealed as the ones earlier this year suggested a 20% drop in shoplifting. However the meeting was told they ‘look too good’, and further verification was going to be made before offering them as firm stats.
The biggest category of town centre crime is shoplifting. Two years ago 634 offences were recorded, which is now down to 492 last full year. Shoplifting was described as a ‘low penalty and low risk’ crime.
The Forum was reassured there was ‘no hard core group’ nor is there a problem of gangs of shoplifters.
A ‘newish’ police command team is in place, with the previous Chief Inspector Alex Goss being moved to police control. A new Chief Inspector has been put in place, with Superintendent Hatchett becoming the Eastern Area Commander.
Concerns have been raised about an increase in anti social behaviour around St Giles and High St. The police told the forum that they are anticipating an increase in drunks and begging in the area as the weather is better and town busier.
Reassurance was offered that officers are in place with sufficient staff. They intend to use Section 27 notices, as was successful last year, to remove people from the area for up to 48 hours.
Details were given on how ‘hotspot policing’ has worked in Wrexham. The strategy being that large numbers of officers are placed in specific hotspot areas, which has reduced crime. Resources were moved from other areas to do this, which has meant an increase in problems elsewhere.
The meeting was told: “It’s not been a huge success but we have learnt lessons from it. We now have a very structured method to deploy PCSOs, it previously was quite ad hoc. It is now more structured where we predict where issues will be, and then coordinate from there.
“There has been short term pain for long term benefits. Be reassured you have our commitment, we won’t go back 18 months to drunks and drug users in the town centre.”
There was a plea for information, with the initial knowledge of issues around St Giles coming via a TCC meeting. The police said: “Our plea is to get in touch with police/PCSOs if you see anything occurring Do not allow it to escalate. We don’t know whats going on unless we are told.”
A warning that there has been a small increase in retail burglaries was issued. Police ask people in premises to be mindful if you are leaving cash or valuables on display.
101 Service – ‘No Improvement’
Again issues with the 101 non emergency contact number for the police was raised. We have encountered similar issues with the number ringing out not being answered.
The police said it is still a ‘work in progress’ however assured the Forum that the new command team in the police control room has it as one of their ‘main priorities’ around call handling.
One other issue raised was the lack of local knowledge if you are lucky enough to get though. There is a meeting scheduled with Wrexham Council and North Wales Police and the Forum was told the 101 service is on the agenda.