New police victim-led approach gets results.
A DRAMATIC fall in the number of anti-social behaviour complaints made to police in one South Wales town has led to calls for other areas to introduce similar initiatives to tackle the problem.
Calls about anti-social behaviour (ASB) in the Merthyr Tydfil area dropped by a third in the three months after South Wales Police introduced a "victim-led" approach to the problem.
In September, officers in the ASB department at Northern Basic Command Unit (BCU), which covers Merthyr and Rhondda Cynon Taf, began singling out those who call regularly to complain about ASB in order to look into whether there are any underlying problems.
It led to the creation of a Repeat Victim Callers list, which is checked twice a week and a shortlist of "priority" vulnerable victims created.
Those victims are then considered for a full risk assessment and action plan, which includes home visits.
A spokesman for South Wales Police said the new process has had a "significant impact" since its launch in September last year.
He said: "The number of people who have called three times in three months for the same thing has gone from a height of 62 in October to a lowof21 inJanuary.Thenumber of calls made by these groups has fallen from 265 in October to 87 in January."
Inspector Claire Hallett, who works in Merthyr, said the process also allows officers to weed out nuisance callers and those who are vulnerable but not victims of crime.
She said her colleagues were working hard to "tailor police responses appropriately".
"Collectively, this has all considerably reduced the demand on our front-line which in turn reduces demand on other agencies," she said.
Professor Martin Innes, director of Cardiff University's Police Science Institute, has been monitoring the progress of the Merthyr trial.
He said: "Across the UK 3.5 million incidents of anti-social behaviour are reported each year and we estimate that there are about 12 million incidents overall, because we know that about two-thirds of incidents are not reported.
"When we did our research we found a relatively small number of repeat and vulnerable victims who were experiencing a lot of anti-social behaviour and we realised that concentrating on the victim rather than just the offender was a far more effective way of responding. "The Government is already shifting policing this way but what we are seeing from the Merthyr trial and trials in other places is how police and other practitioners can actually put it into practice."
Vulnerable man target for youths
A MAN with mental health issues who lived in Merthyr's Gurnos estate told police he was repeatedly being targeted by youths in the area.
In June 2011, after calling police 10 times in three months to report anti-social behaviour, he came to the attention of the force's anti-social behaviour department.
Acting on his complaints, officers issued harassment warnings to the perpetrators and contacted their housing association, asking them to warn their tenants about their behaviour and the impact it could have on their tenancy.
The man then stopped making complaints, but officers wanted a long-term solution.
They arranged a meeting between him and a mental health charity, which led to the man being diagnosed with a serious disorder. He was sectioned the next day.
He has since been discharged and moved to a new address, where he has been able to make a fresh start. Since moving he has not made any further complaints.
* Calls about anti-social behaviour in the Merthyr area have fallen