On Saturday 21 August, council officers, police and the High Sheriff worked together in a Night of Action to keep the city centre safe.
Nights of Action are held regularly in Chelmsford. On each one, all the agencies who are involved in making Chelmsford a safe place to be at night work together for a bigger impact, cracking down on crime and antisocial behaviour and helping those in need.
Saturday was a particularly special night, as the date coincided with the Pride festival in Central Park. Before they began work in the High Street, the Night of Action team carried out a patrol at the park to make sure everyone was safe and having a good time.
Next, they headed to the SOS Bus. This specially-equipped bus is stationed in the High Street every Friday and Saturday night. Staffed by both trained medics and committed volunteers, it’s there for anyone who needs it on a night out. If you’re ill, or lost, or don’t feel safe for any reason, it’s the place to go. Recently, the SOS bus volunteers have seen a number of concerning cases where people who have taken – or been spiked with – illegal drugs have turned up at the doors feeling extremely ill. The Night of Action team stopped by the bus to talk to the volunteers, as did the High Sheriff of Essex, Simon Brice.
The city centre car parks were next on the list. Buildings like car parks that are open late into the night can sometimes attract antisocial behaviour, but during the patrol nothing seemed to be amiss. Lastly, the team spoke to licensed businesses, making sure everything was in order and that their license conditions were being met, and carried out several patrols of the High Street.
Nikki Essex, Community Safety Officer at Chelmsford City Council, said, “Nights of Action are really useful for us as they’re an opportunity for different agencies to patrol together, make sure we’re working together in the most effective way, and strengthen our lines of communication. Seeing officers out in large numbers also reminds any criminals that our city centre is protected and it’s not a place to attempt to commit crimes. We carry out Nights of Actions multiple times each year – so if you’re planning a night out in Chelmsford, you may see us out and about. Give us a wave and if you’re one of the few who commit offences, think twice!”
Helping people off the streets
During their patrol, the team also talked to several people who were sleeping in the city centre and invited them to the ‘intervention support hub’. The hub is a safe place where people who are street homeless can access lots of different types of help in one place – from hot meals and showers to one-on-one mentoring, support with any addictions or complex needs, and information about places to stay.
Anyone sleeping rough in Chelmsford is approached regularly by outreach officers who offer help, support and build relationships to help people off the streets. This can take time, especially if someone’s circumstances are complex or they have difficulty accepting help for any reason. If you’re worried about someone who seems to be sleeping on the streets, or don’t think the council knows about them, please tell Streetlink and someone will come out to check that they’re OK and talk to them. You can use Streetlink online or download the Streetlink app on your phone.
Protecting your bike from crime
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, officers from the City Council and Police held a bike marking event in Meadgate, Great Baddow. A stall was set up where local people could get their bikes marked and registered on a national database, free of charge. The team marked 32 bikes as well as educated local teens on online safety and handed out card defenders. The service returned by popular demand after previous sessions at Riverside and South Woodham Ferrers proved incredibly popular.
Bike theft is more common in urban and suburban areas because so many people use bicycles to get around. Getting your bike marked can give it an extra layer of protection with thieves and help you to be reunited with it if it is ever lost or stolen.
Help to keep this city safe
To find out about future bike marking events, Nights of Action and what else is being done to keep Chelmsford safe, follow @ChelmsCouncil on Facebook or Twitter or sign up to the community safety mailing list. Mailing list subscribers get an email each season with details of current issues, actions being taken and opportunities for you to get involved.