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‘Appalling behaviour’ sparks new trouble-spot crackdown

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A POLICE crackdown is being launched at trouble hotspots this weekend after a rise in ‘appalling behaviour’ by groups of teenagers following the easing of lockdown.

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Groups of up to 100 have caused repeated problems in recent weeks – leaving areas strewn with litter, intimidating other Islanders and challenging the police when told to obey social distancing.

And separately the police have revealed they are facing a rise in violence, with officers being kicked, head-butted and spat at.

Two weeks ago, the force closed part of the Waterfront after groups of young people left the area covered with litter and refused to stay two metres apart from each other.

Now, following similar problems in St Brelade, Havre des Pas and other parts of the Island, and a rise in drunkenness and a ‘disregard for authority’, the States police is launching Operation Rockpool. During the operation more patrols will be carried out at known problem areas and a tougher stance will be taken against those committing offences.

And at a press conference yesterday, Chief Minister John Le Fondré criticised the actions of some teenage groups, saying that littering and leaving glass and lit barbecues behind was creating a ‘significant risk’ to children (see page 8).

Chief Inspector Mark Hafey, who will lead the operation, said: ‘There is rightly frustration among the law-abiding public about the behaviour we have seen of late.

‘A growing minority of mainly young people are behaving appallingly and this is having a significant impact on the ability of other Islanders to enjoy our outdoor spaces.

‘We have increased our resources over the coming days and will be focusing on known problem areas.’

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The force has also warned that tough action will be taken against anyone who refuses to keep two metres away from people not from their household, with offenders now facing fines of up to £1,000 for refusing to obey police orders to maintain social distancing.

The police are also asking the parents and guardians of teenagers to help them reduce anti-social behaviour.

Chief Insp Hafey added: ‘We recognise that moderating the behaviour of teenagers is hard but we ask that parents and guardians actively engage with their children to understand what they are doing, where they’re going, and to help them understand the impact of the behaviour we have seen of late.’

Meanwhile, the force has revealed that three officers were attacked last weekend.

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On Wednesday, Alan Mundy (34) pleaded guilty in the Magistrate’s Court to assaulting a police officer after spitting in his face in the early hours of Tuesday. He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

A 22-year-old woman and 16-year-old boy were also arrested in relation to the other assaults. Both have been released on police bail while investigations continue.

Police chief Robin Smith said: ‘Assaulting a police officer in the execution of their duty for, and on behalf of, Islanders, is always unacceptable.

‘To spit in an officer’s face is utterly disgusting at any time and even more so during the time of a global pandemic.

‘I have viewed the bodyworn video of the incident and was both appalled by what I saw and very proud of my officers’ professionalism in handling the situation. They are a credit to the force.’

Speaking about teenagers failing to respect social-distancing rules, Mr Smith said that words of advice ‘may not cut it’ as the Island moves further out of lockdown, and the force may have to take tougher action (see page 9).

There have been 16 recorded assaults on police officers in Jersey so this year. There were 24 in 2019 and 33 in 2018.

Richard Heath

By Richard Heath
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