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Youngsters must show respect in green zo

PUBLISHED: 15:46 08 October 2008 | UPDATED: 14:46 07 July 2010

Dereham residents whose lives have been made a misery by youngsters urinating, playing loud music and racing cars around a nearby car park are hoping a pioneering initiative will help draw a line under the problems.

Dereham residents whose lives have been made a misery by youngsters urinating, playing loud music and racing cars around a nearby car park are hoping a pioneering initiative will help draw a line under the problems.

This week part of the town's Cherry Tree Car Park was being repainted in green with the word “respect” also being spelt out in green.

The new Respect Zone is a part of an initiative created by Dereham police and Breckland Council to encourage youngsters to think about how their actions are disturbing others. Soon to follow will be special notices explaining exactly why this area is a Respect Zone and also highlighting that cars causing problems will be caught.

Sgt Terry Scott, of the Dereham Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “The youngsters say they come up to the car park because they think it is far away from other people. But we want to highlight that this is not a victimless area.

“By making this a Respect Zone it may make the youngsters think about why it is a Respect Zone and help stop them disturbing the nearby community.

“As far as we are aware this is the first time a Respect Zone like this has been used in a public place.

“The Home Office has asked us to keep them posted about how well it works because it could be used across the country.”

Sgt Scott said police had been working with the local community to try to stop the problems at the car park for the past 12 months, and that the on-going work with the community led to them reaching the final 10 in this year's Tilley Awards, a national award funded by the Home Office to recognise excellence in crime reduction.

Some residents have been helping police identify youngsters and their cars which have been causing trouble, and some of these youngsters have been given a Section 59 warning.

This means that if the youngster is seen using his or her car in a similar anti-social way within the next 12 months it can be taken away from them for the rest of the day and the driver will have to pay a minimum of £125 for it to be returned.

In Dereham 20 Section 59 warnings have been issued in the past year and five cars have been seized.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “You get the same cars come up every day. They are here from 1.30pm until 10pm and are sometimes here at 1.30am.

“You just cannot relax. It is the cars and the music that is the worst thing. The youngsters also use the car park as a toilet.

“Some nights there are 10 cars or more there revving their engines. We can hear them through our double glazing. It is like a dripping tap. It is mental torture to keep hearing the cars.”

But he said that he could not have had better service from the police about the problem and said he hoped the Respect Zone would help the situation.

Another resident, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said: “They use the car park like a car race. It is like being near Snetterton Race Track. There are scooters too and there was a tractor going around the car park last week.”

Stephen Askew, executive member for community at Breckland Council, said: “Breckland Council is very pleased to be involved in this project. It is an excellent example of partnership working and shows first hand, how we take the concerns of our residents seriously, not only in identifying a problem, but also in finding a solution. The residents in the vicinity of the car park have been instrumental in helping us to help them.”

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