From Devon & Cornwall Police:
Police are stepping up patrols in Bideford and Westward Ho! in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.
Operation Masque starts today (June 1) and initially runs for the next few days, it will be repeated later in the month.
As part of the initiative a pop-up police station will be in the main Westward Ho! car park on Golf Links Road on Friday 2 June to allow increased engagement with local communities. The local neighbourhood police team will be available between 10am-4pm to discuss with local people any concerns they may have around anti-social behaviour.
The team will be on hand to offer crime prevention advice, answer policing related questions and sign people up to the Devon and Cornwall Alert two-way community messaging service. Children can collect some free stickers and have a look around the police van, as well as try on some police uniform.
This is an opportunity for the public to meet the police team that looks after their area and discuss what matters to them most. The police team are keen to hear ideas about how communities can come together to help solve local issues and make a positive difference.
High visibility patrols will take place across the town involving local police officers and Police Community Support Officers. There will also be support from central Devon & Cornwall Police units.
Sergeant Glyn Clark, Neighbourhood Team Leader for the local police sector, said: “Operation Masque is designed to engage with local youngsters, as well as the local community who live and work in the Bideford and Westward Ho! areas.
“We have received several reports of anti-social behaviour and many involve teenagers aged between 13-17 who are causing a nuisance with public drinking, swearing and shoplifting. This behaviour can be intimidating and annoying for local people and we want to disperse them from the area. Alcohol will be seized during the operation.
“We realise that some youngsters are at a loose end during school holidays and the good weather means they have been hanging around and causing problems for others. We want to deter them from crime and general anti-social behaviour.
“If you are in the area over the next few days and see our officers please come over and say hello. They are happy to chat about any issues you may have to try and resolve them.”
Police are working in conjunction with partner agencies such as SPACE who provide a youth engagement service in North Devon to give youngsters facilities and access to youth workers. Anyone who wants more information about their services can visit https://www.spaceyouthservices.org
Police are also engaging with business partners and will seize CCTV as and when necessary to help investigate criminal offences.
Look out for updates on the local Bideford Police Facebook page.