Nine officers from Alnwick’s neighbourhood policing team won the High Sheriff of Northumberland Award at Northumbria Police’s annual Pride in Policing event.
The team were nominated by Sergeant Paul Sykes after he was impressed by their passion and problem-solving skills used to put a stop to anti-social behaviour taking place in woodland near Alnwick.
In the spring, the woodland saw groups of teenagers visiting the area and behaving in an unacceptable manner.
Sgt Sykes said: “Some young people from a nearby town decided to make this wooded area their designated meeting spot, bringing with them a rise in noise and litter complaints, as well as concerns of livestock worrying, and reports of fires being set and underage drinking.
“The wooded area could only be accessed by foot, making it challenging for our officers to tackle those engaging in such behaviour, who would run off into the woods if approached by police.
“The team realised that those involved were from out of the area and travelling on public transport – so we intercepted them at the bus station and stops.”
Officers also worked with partners at Northumberland County Council and liaised with local schools, hosting assemblies and educating youngsters on the dangers and consequences of such activities.
Local residents also assisted officers, supplying information.
The guardians of 25 children were identified and advised about the unacceptable behaviour and warned they could also be liable for prosecution.
Each child was issued with a first-stage ASB letter, with several arrests for public order offences following.
Sgt Sykes said: “Within a matter of weeks, ASB had ceased in the area.
“I am proud of the way may team tackled this issue, considerably improving the lives of those affected. We know the majority of people, including youngsters, make a positive contribution to their area and it is important a minority do not spoil things for everyone else.
“The meet-ups, in such a hard to access area, were also a dangerous place for teenagers to congregate, with many parents unaware of the whereabouts of their children. Officers putting a stop to the gatherings has also helped ensure their safety.
“The team as a whole were proud to be recognised and receive the award as this operation is indicative of the work that is carried out week in week out, in the Alnwick area by the neighbourhood policing team.”
Chief Constable Winton Keenen, who presented the award, said: “Many congratulations to the team on winning this award, which highlights just one of the many ways in which our officers, staff and volunteers are positively impacting people’s lives every single day.
“Tackling anti-social behaviour is a priority for the Force and this example demonstrates that through effective joint working, with our partners and the communities we serve, we can make a real and lasting difference.
“We live in a wonderful part of the country, with beautiful countryside, beaches and vibrant cities on our doorstep, and we are committed to playing our part in ensuring everyone can enjoy what the region has to offer.
“Together we can all help make sure the North East remains a safe and welcoming place to live, work and visit.”