Do young people adhere to the 2 metre rule?
With lockdown easing and the travel ban lifted there will, inevitably, be issues ensuring everyone adheres to the remaining social distancing guidance. Youngsters who have only been meeting up online or in small groups suddenly find themselves with the freedom to meet with larger groups from neighbouring areas.
As they arrange to socially interact with each other outdoors it’s worth reminding that teenagers rarely conform to rules and recommendations at the best of times. Add alcohol to the mix and social distancing is likely to be the first thing out of the window.
For some time now, Maslin Park has been the venue for large gatherings of young teenagers. Their behaviour is usually antisocial and when alcohol is added to the mix it can get violent and usually requires a strong police presence to disperse the crowds.
The mornings after such gatherings the park is strewn with glass, bottles and litter making it unsafe for children and families to use.
The issue with this particular park was raised as far back as September 2019 and was highlighted by the Barry and District News in their news article on September 5th
The paper outlined reports of anti-social behaviour involving large groups of youths gathering in the park and concerns raised regarding underage drinking and drug taking.
Officers working with the Safer Vale Partnership were said to be working to combat these issues.
In the report the reporter quoted local policing inspector for Barry, Mark Henderson, who stated: “Tackling anti-social behaviour is a key priority for us and I would like those involved in such activity to know there is no place for it in Barry“.
“This kind of behaviour can be intimidating for local residents- especially the elderly and vulnerable.”
“We are keen to get the message out to parents to help us by making sure they know where their teenagers are when they are out and about in the evenings“.
“Underage drinkers are not only taking risks by breaking the law but they should also be aware that alcohol can leave them vulnerable and put their personal safety at risk”.
“Any adults who are found to be buying alcohol for under 18s can be fined £80 and also risk further prosecution by the courts”.
“I would urge residents to keep reporting concerns of anti-social behaviour to us so that we can act upon them.”
To report any concerns call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Monday night (6th July 2020) a crowd of around 40+ youngsters made their way from the train station to the Island via Ship Hill and the causeway. Other groups were on the road riding bikes and some walked from Park Crescent. Most of these groups made their way to Maslin Park and congregated by the lane leading to the station bridge.
There was no sign of any form of social distancing and only one youngster was wearing a mask.
Within minutes of their arrival a full blown fight had broken out with girls literally tearing the hair out of each other’s heads. Local residents felt it serious enough to feel they had to go over and intervene to make sure no-one was too badly hurt.
People living around the park should not have to put up with this kind of behaviour night after night. Children living in the vicinity of the area should not have their play area littered with dangerous objects and material rendering it un-useable.
Is this a pattern repeated in all the small parks in the area, or is Maslin Park particularly popular for its easy access to, and escape from, the Island and all the attractions there?
The police were called. Once officers were on the scene, many of the group had slipped back over the railway bridge and others run in the opposite direction to the parks main entrance.
Most of the group moved on when required to do so by the police, but a few youngsters were very disrespectful and goaded officers by calling them on to try and catch them. When that didn’t get the reaction they wanted they moved in too close to the police officers, less than 1 metre away from them, getting into their faces and taunting them.
Maybe the message that young people do not have to worry about the threat of COVID_19 has made them too blase about the risks and that they believe, wrongly so, that there is zero chance of them being seriously ill from this virus.
Maybe they just don’t make the connection between their behaviour and the subsequent risk to maybe a grandparent or vulnerable family member.
But every member of the public area has a right to be protected by the 2 metre rule.
No police officer, trying to ensure that the Island is a safe zone for everyone, should have to put up with any member of the public, young or old, standing closer to 1m to them.
Someone standing in their personal space, mouthing off to them spreading droplets and alcohol fuelled ramblings puts their health at risk.
How can the residents of Barry island be protected from antisocial behaviour and drunkenness as we find our way out of lockdown.
This was a quiet night, a windy and chilly evening. When the weather warms up it is a real worry and policing Barry Island is likely to become very challenging over the next few weeks.
After being moved on by police the group of youths congregated on the prom, then after buying snacks they carried walking in the direction the eastern shelter and disappeared out of our sight.
No doubt people enjoying an evening walk around the shelter and Clement Colley Walk came across them and had to try to negotiate a safe path around them. The next few months will be very interesting indeed.