High-tech CCTV is going live at Alnwick’s much-maligned bus station this week as part of ongoing, concerted efforts to tackle disorder.
Northumbria Police’s Alnwick Neighbourhood Team has been working in partnership with Arriva, the town council, Northumberland Community Safety and the Gallery Youth Project to discuss community concerns around low-level anti-social behaviour and littering at the bus station.
Police and partners are concerned about the low-level fear of crime by residents and tourists created by the presence of groups of youths who use the bus station as a meeting point and throw litter around despite there being sufficient bins.
In response, Arriva has invested in a comprehensive, high-definition system, which will be used by Northumbria Police and Alnwick Town Council to identify anyone committing criminal or anti-social behaviour. Visible signs will be displayed to inform the public that the area is covered by CCTV.
Other partnership work that will be undertaken by a joint task group includes monitoring the cleaning of the bus station; ensuring there are enough bins in the area and that these are emptied regularly; introducing CCTV across the whole of the town.
Acting Neighbourhood Inspector Sharon Wilmore-Greaves said: “Our residents have told us that there is a problem with anti-social behaviour and littering at the bus station.
“We are responding to those concerns by increased patrols in the area and utilising new anti-social behaviour powers by authorising dispersal notices when required.
“Having the CCTV in place will mean that if there are any acts of crime or anti-social behaviour we will quickly be able to identify who was involved and take more effective action.
“Alnwick is a very safe place to live and we don’t want anyone to feel intimidated by the behaviour of others at any time or in any part of town.
“The introduction of CCTV at the bus station will be another way that we can drive this behaviour out.”
Nick Knox, area managing director for Arriva North East, added: “We are very pleased with the recent installation of CCTV cameras at Alnwick Bus Station.
“We hope this will help prevent any further incidents, helping us improve the overall journey experience for our customers.”
Yesterday, Coun Gordon Castle, an Alnwick town and county councillor, said: “This is in response to a number of public complaints and it was recognised that something had to happen.
“I’m very grateful to the police for taking this seriously and to Arriva for realising something needs to be done.
“There are other plans going forward, but for now we will see what impact the CCTV has.”
At last Thursday’s meeting of Alnwick Town Council, A/Insp Wilmore-Greaves updated members on the bus station and the CCTV. “I’m not going to say this is going to be the answer to everything,” she said.
Coun Castle said he was ‘very grateful’ that two senior Arriva executives had attended a meeting to discuss the issues with other stakeholders. “It has been decided at a high level that some money is going to be put into this,” he added. “It’s not a magic wand, but it’s a good step forward.”
Coun Pat Holt, a regular user of the bus station, said: “If I arrive back to the bus station at about 6pm or 7pm, the people in there are primarily very young; children as young as eight, boys and girls.
“As you alight from the bus, they are throwing things at each other, not at you, and it’s very noisy.
“In the tourist season, I know some visitors are very, very nervous. The youngsters feel free to behave just as they want to.”
Unfortunately, Alnwick, where the bus station is owned by Morrisons and leased to Arriva, finds itself in a worse situation than both public and private facilities in comparable market towns.
In Morpeth, the bus station is owned by Dransfield Properties, as part of the adjacent Sanderson Arcade, whose staff monitor it. Meanwhile, Hexham has just seen the county council invest in a new £2.28million facility.