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Respect zone plan for Swaffham

PUBLISHED: 13:32 05 February 2009 | UPDATED: 11:10 08 July 2010

An award winning initiative aimed at cracking down on antisocial behaviour could be introduced in Swaffham.

After its success in Dereham, police are investigating the possibility of creating a "Respect Zone" on Swaffham's Theatre Street car park.

An award winning initiative aimed at cracking down on antisocial behaviour could be introduced in Swaffham.

After its success in Dereham, police are investigating the possibility of creating a “Respect Zone” on Swaffham's Theatre Street car park.

Dereham's pioneering zone, which was launched on the town's Cherry Tree car park in October has already proved a great success.

In a countrywide first, part of the car park was painted with green lines instead of the usual white with the word “respect” spelt out in the same colour. Signs were also put up warning that cars causing a problem would be seized.

The result has been a huge drop in the number of complaints by local residents about youngsters urinating, racing cars and playing loud music in the area.

Officers in Swaffham are now looking into how to obtain funding to create a respect zone in the town.

Insp Adrian Porter said: “The initiative is in the early stages and we are trying to get a funding bid together so we can progress this.

“In essence we have identified the problem and the victims and we are looking at the respect zones as a way of removing the problem.

“The Dereham example was so successful we felt that it could be used to tackle the problem we have in Swaffham.”

It is believed that if it goes ahead the zone would be only the second of its type in the country.

In Dereham the “Respect Zone” is part of a wider initiative to tackle anti social behaviour on the car park which has also seen the launch of a victim support group and increased use of enforcement action against persistent offenders.

Police say that all the measures combined have resulted in an 80pc increase in satisfaction from residents living in houses around the car park.

Speaking at the launch of the zone last year Sgt Terry Scott explained: “The youngsters say they come up to the car park because they think it is far away from other people.

“We want to highlight that this is not a victimless area.

“By making this a Respect Zone it makes the youngsters think more and helps stop them disturbing the nearby community.”

The initiative has even gained national and international recognition with councils and the home office keeping a watchful eye on its progress in the hope of emulating it if successful.

In September officers from Dereham Safer Neighbourhood Team were given a Tilly award.

The Home Office funded prize recognises excellence in crime reduction using problem-solving principles.

Sgt Scott was also invited to the USA give a talk about the Cherry Tree car park project at the annual Problem Oriented Policing Conference in Seattle.

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