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Colchester Library considers bodycams following 54 anti-social behaviour incidents

26 May Colchester Library considers bodycams following 54 anti-social behaviour incidents

Essex County Council takes action against repeated anti-social behaviour by groups of young people.

Colchester Library is considering bodycams and other preventative measures after logging 54 anti-social behaviour incidents over the last three months.

The repeated behaviour by groups of young people culminated in an assault on a librarian which was investigated by Essex Police.

Other incidents have involved vandalised facilities, verbal abuse towards staff, books thrown around the library and shouting in quiet reading areas.

The library has since hired a security guard to deter offenders. It also works with Essex County Council’s Youth Services and Colchester City Council’s Street Care & Safety Team, who patrol the premises.

Colchester Business Against Crime (COLBAC) identified some of the young people displaying anti-social behaviour in other parts of the city from CCTV footage provided by local businesses.

The library is continuing to provide safety training and work closely with the councils, police and COLBAC to protect staff and deter the anti-social behaviour.

Councillor Mark Durham, Cabinet Member for The Arts, Heritage and Culture at Essex County Council, said: “It is completely unacceptable that our dedicated staff at Colchester Library should have to face verbal abuse, vandalism and now assault simply by going to work.

“Libraries are places of learning which people should always feel safe to visit. This includes families, the elderly and vulnerable residents, many of whom take part in activities, classes and clubs organised at our libraries.

“We will work tirelessly with library staff, Colchester City Council, Essex Police and COLBAC to put a stop to these incidents.”

Councillor David King, Leader of Colchester City Council, said: “Colchester City Council fully supports Essex County Council’s efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour at Colchester Library. I commend the library staff for their dedication and professionalism in the face of sometimes challenging circumstances.

“We are committed to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for library staff and visitors of all ages. Our Street Care & Safety Team is working closely with the county council and Essex Police to explore all available options to deter anti-social behaviour and protect library staff.

“While the decision on body cameras rests with Essex County Council, I would welcome them and any other CCTV action that helps us identify offenders. We also aim to work with the police, schools and parents to put a stop to unacceptable behaviour. This will ensure Colchester Library can be enjoyed as a great resource and safe community space.”

Chief Inspector Colin Cox, Colchester District Commander at Essex Police, said: “We are aware and have been acting on reports of a group of youths causing persistent issues at Colchester Library.

“We have a dedicated city centre team who are aware of this issue and in response will carry out regular patrols taking in and including the library, to deter further incidents and identify those causing significant disruption.

“We will continue to work with partners, including Essex County Council, COLBAC and Colchester Business Improvement District (BID) to make sure we’re responding to issues where they arise and dedicating resources to where they are needed.

“One of our main focuses in Colchester is on tackling anti-social behaviour, and we’re seeing a sustained fall in offences in recent years.

“But we know there are occasions, usually attributable to a specific group, where issues arise and it is really important we continue to build cases against persistent offenders and monitor where we are seeing consistent reports coming in to us.”

A spokesperson for COLBAC said: “Sadly, Colchester Library is not alone in experiencing this level of anti-social behaviour in the city centre. COLBAC works closely with its members and partners, which include Essex Police and the city council, to manage and stop this behaviour.

“It is quite unacceptable for our workers and visitors to the city to have to experience these incidents. The library’s incidents are the very reason why we must continue to pool our resources and experiences and focus our efforts on ridding the city of this unacceptable behaviour that is having such a negative impact.

“COLBAC continues to encourage its members to report these incidents and capture as much information as possible to assist in any prosecutions or enforcement actions in order to keep the city centre safe for all its workers and visitors.”