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Violent attacks and threatening behaviour mean some people feel too scared to visit Newport city centre; There have been a number of serious incidents reported to Gwent Police in recent months.

Byline: Marcus Hughes

Violence, harassment and threatening behaviour is discouraging people from visitingNewport city centre, according to residents and business owners.

In recent months there have been a number of street robberies and violent attacks reported in the city centre region.

That's against a backdrop of increasing low level antisocial behaviour from groups of young people.

Residents have reported feeling intimidated by groups gathered at Newport bus station, and business owners say customers are being discouraged from visiting the area because of the ongoing problem.

Gwent Police say they have launched a specialist task team to target repeat offenders, and have issued their third dispersal order in two weeks in an effort to tackle the problem.

In April, a 76-year-old man was the victim of a serious assault in an attack near the bus station. A 14-year-old boy from Newport was later arrested on suspicion of assault.

And last month, eight street robberies were reported to Gwent Police between May 16 and May 18. Four took place near the Old Green roundabout, and four others happened near the railway station underpass, the Riverfront, Clarence Place and the bus station.

It's leading to a general feeling of discomfort for some people who visit the city centre.

Self-employed photographer Kamila Jarczak, from Ringland, said she depends on using the bus service to get around Newport as she doesn't drive.

The mother of three said groups of young people hanging around the bus station "rule the place".

"They are very confident; they ride bikes, they shout, they smoke," the 37-year-old said. "After reading some stories about people being attacked, I am actually scared.

"I carry with me equipment which is worth almost [pounds sterling]5,000 - my camera and lens. I feel like I have to hide it from people."

Kamila moved from Bristol to Newport last year. She said many fellow bus service users share her concerns.

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Marie Wheeler, 56, has been running her independent home furnishing shop The Curtain Company in the market for more than 30 years. Many of her customers are elderly.

"My customers tell me it breaks their heart because they won't come through the bus station," she said. "They get taxis to the front of my shop or they park their cars outside. It's deplorable."

Gwent Police have issued three 48-hour dispersal order within the space of two weeks, which give them further powers to disperse groups of people before any criminal or antisocial behaviour occurs.

The latest was issued at 3pm on Friday and will end at 3pm on Sunday. A public spaces protection order is also in place in the city centre area.

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A Gwent Police spokesman said: "We are aware of concerns regarding antisocial and criminal behaviour taking place in the bus station area, predominantly carried out by groups of youths, and take them very seriously.

"This week, we launched a Newport city centre tasking team, made up of one sergeant and 12 officers, who will specifically target individuals we suspect of repeat offending, as part of regular patrols in the Stow Hill ward.

"We want people to be able to go about their lives without worrying about intimidation from gangs of young people, some of whom have little respect for others or for their environment.

"We encourage anyone who wishes to report crime or who is concerned about something they've seen or heard to report it either by calling 101 or 999. Residents can also e-mail us at contact@gwent.pnn.police.uk."

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Friars Walk centre director Simon Pullen said the organisation is aware of issues reported to police around the bus station, which is managed by Friars Walk.

He said: "We continue to work closely with key partners within the Newport community including Newport City Council, Newport NOW and their ambassadors, youth services and Gwent Police to try and keep this to a minimum and to ensure young people that want to use and enjoy Friars Walk and the facilities it has aren't penalised.

"We will continue to help wherever we can through our CCTV at the centre and feedback from our security team, retailers and shoppers.

"We want to make sure that everyone visiting the city has the best experience possible and will do what is necessary to achieve this."

Interested in Newport? Join our new Facebook group,Newport Online.

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People have reported ongoing issues with antisocial behaviour at the bus station over the past few months

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Police have issued a dispersal order in the city centre this weekend

Credit: Rob Browne/ Wales Online

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Publication:Wales Online (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 17, 2018
Words:817
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