TAUNTON Deane MP Rebecca Pow met with Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford as a follow-up to the anti-social behaviour roundtable she hosted recently bringing together a wide range of stakeholders for the first time to discuss this issue.

This included the Taunton Chamber of Commerce, local business leaders, Taunton Town Council, Somerset Council, community police representatives and charities.

MP Pow introduced Mr Shelford to some of the traders affected by the recent incidents in the town who had suffered from break-ins, smashed windows and a range of unacceptable behaviour.

She said: “I called the roundtable to get heads together to see what more can be done to tackle this unacceptable rise in anti-social behaviour that we have seen in our county town over the summer.

“Persistent anti-social behaviour causes widespread distress and I know it can have a devastating impact on individuals and neighbourhoods I have been particularly concerned following the various incidents in Taunton.

“There was consensus from the initial meeting which I called, that there is potential for the local council to use the powers available to them more effectively, including community protection notices, as well as positioning CCTV in relevant locations. Crucially, closer working between all who have an interest in this is vital.

“So, building on this, I was pleased to invite our PCC Mark Shelford to join me in meeting some of our affected businesses to discuss better partnership working between the council, police and the community.

“We also discussed the role of schools and indeed parents so that any possibility of anti-social behaviour can be nipped in the bud before it escalates into serious crime.”

Avon & Somerset PCC Mark Shelford said: “It’s about partnership working, it’s bringing together the police, the council, the community to make sure that we deal with this when it is anti-social behaviour, and it doesn’t become criminal.

“Sadly it is youths, we don’t want to criminalize them, but we do want them to have consequences for what they do and that partnership working is vital to achieving that.”

A further roundtable will be hosted to report on progress on the way forward.