POLICE FOCUS: Washer is a winner

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At least 14 suspected criminals were taken off the streets of Spalding town centre in the lead-up to Christmas, according to Lincolnshire Police.

The success of Operation Washer, a bid to make the centre of Spalding crime-free for the duration of the festive shopping season. was also illustrated by figures which showed that almost 30 street drinkers were dealt with and 30 cyclists were warned for various offences.

Operation Washer ran between December 1 and 24 when police officers spent more than 320 hours of foot and bicycle patrol around the town centre, including “anti-social behaviour hotspots” such as the riverbank alongside Albion Street and the Green Lane footbridge area.

South Holland community policing inspector Jim Tyner said: “The main aim of Operation Washer was to deter offenders from committing acts of street drinking, cycling offences, thefts from shops and youth-related anti-social behaviour in Spalding town centre in the run-up to Christmas.

“It was also to provide reassurance to our community living in and visiting the town centre by increasing the number of patrols on our town centre beat.

“There were high-visibility foot and cycle patrols daily in the town centre and at nearby recognised anti-social behaviour hotspots, including the Albion Street riverbank and the Green Lane footbridge area. The use of dispersal notices was also considered as and when high levels of anti-social behaviour occured in the designated patrol areas.”

In total, about 100 people were dealt with by way of arrests, fines, warnings and stop/searches over the Operation Washer period.

This included eight arrests of people suspeced of shoplifting, one arrest of a person believed to have breached a dispersal notice, 28 street drinkers having their alcohol seized, 15 stop/searches and four on-the-spot fines, including one for shoplifting.

Inspector Tyner said: “Throughout the duration of the operation, we received really positive feedback from local businesses, traders and shoppers.

“My officers will continue to patrol the town centre area but, as the focus will be scaled back, it is important that the public calls us on 101 to report issues so I can ensure that patrols are directed to the right areas.

“Whilst there may be uncertainty about what the future holds in terms of policing resources in Lincolnshire, I welcome 2015 with a determination that Spalding town centre should continue to be a safe place to live, work, shop and meet, both during the day and at night.”