Police have launched their festive crackdown in Sunderland – as the message of Operation Justice still reverberates throughout the city centre.
More than 20 people were arrested during two recent weeks of action that were code-named Operation Justice I and Operation Justice II.
The operations which ran in October and November tackled all city centre criminality, but specifically adult-related anti-social behaviour and retail-related offences.
Now, after business leaders hailed the impact of the recent activity, police have vowed to maintain the momentum during the countdown to Christmas.
Today (Monday), Sergeant Maria Ord and the city centre neighbourhood team have launched Operation Kraken, which will run through until Christmas Eve.
The crackdown will see uniformed and plain-clothed officers working closely with The Bridges and Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID), along with Sunderland City Council, to protect shoppers and tackle any Scrooge-like behaviour.
“Christmas is a time of good-will and excitement for residents and visitors who will be coming to Sunderland to share in the festive spirit,” Sgt Ord said.
“We are expecting increased footfall across the city centre over the coming weeks and we want to make sure families can enjoy themselves in a safe and hassle-free manner.
“That’s why we’ve launched Operation Kraken, something we have run successfully in previous years, which will see increased patrols across the city centre and officers will target hotspot areas and individuals believed to be involved in disorder or criminality.
“The feedback we have received off the back of Operation Justice has been incredibly positive, and we will be looking to build on that by working hand-in-hand with our city centre partners and businesses to create a positive, vibrant environment for shoppers and families to enjoy.
“Anybody who threatens that festive spirit within our city centre will face robust action and could face the prospect of spending Christmas behind bars.”
During Operation Justice and Operation Justice II, police arrested 22 suspects on suspicion of causing city centre-related crime and disorder and issued 39 dispersals which prevented groups of individuals from congregating in locations across the city centre.
Officers also used their power to stop and search eight individuals and spoke to 34 people over their future behaviour.
The council’s CCTV operators also worked closely with Sgt Ord and her team to help identify offenders and areas of concern.
Sharon Appleby, head of business operations at Sunderland BID, said: “We are delighted with the results of both recent operations which have proven working in partnership can deliver hugely effective and positive results for the city centre.
“We are coming into the busiest time of year for city centre businesses and with the added fun packed Christmas programme bringing additional footfall in to the city, it is imperative we continue our zero tolerance approach to crime and anti-social behaviour.”.
Andy Bradley, centre director at the Bridges, added: “We are really pleased to see a continuation of the campaign in the run up to Christmas.
“Shoppers, visitors and city centre businesses have every right to feel safe in a pleasant and welcoming city centre.
“And this campaign gets the message out loud and clear that anti-social behaviour of any kind is unacceptable and won’t be tolerated.”