Bid to end apple attacks on cars in Doncaster

Off road police officers like these are operating in Doncaster to deal with nuisance bikers and quadbikers
Off road police officers like these are operating in Doncaster to deal with nuisance bikers and quadbikers

Furious motorists in one of the towns in the East of Doncaster were getting fed up.

They were seeing their cars targeted by hooligans who were throwing things at them as they drove past on the streets of Thorne.

The groups were hurling apples at the vehicles - but now it is hoped that a solution to the problem has been found.

Local police and council officials became aware that part of the problem was down to apples which were falling from trees near the roadside. The solution which was proposed was simple - pick the apples before they get the stage where they are falling to the group, so that those who had been hurling them are left without ammunition.

There was also an issue with eggs being thrown. Local shops that sell eggs are now aware of the issue, and are looking to stop the sale to those who may cause a problem.

It is the sort of solution that police bosses hope will become common place in the Doncaster East policing district.

It has been brought in since community policing was rolled out across Doncaster East around three months ago.

It was the last part of Doncaster to see community policing return to its streets.

But officers on the ground in the East of Doncaster are optimistic that they are now making a difference with a new system of looking after towns and villages including Armthorpe Stainforth, Thorne, Rossington, Bawtry and Tickhill.

Insp Mark Payling said: "Thorne had an issue with individuals throwing eggs at cars, and then, in October, throwing apples. Now the council is going to pick them to make sure that there is no repeat, and it is one of the simple things that can be done through community policing.

"We just need to make sure that the fruit is picked before. The other thing is that all the shops are being advised of who not to sell eggs to.

"The public phoned up, and we responded to the issue."

It is one of a number of community issues that have been addressed in Thorne. Earlier this year, police attended community meetings in the town and were told of concerns over burglary levels. They have fallen after a suspect was arrested and then convicted.

Doncaster East saw the roll-out of community officers in October, after the system had been brought forward ahead of schedule in Doncaster Central and Doncaster West to address specific issues.

But now is has a team of officers dedicated to the area, with more moving into posts there this month.

It means there will be five PCs and 16 PCSO in place.

Insp Payling is in charge of the unit.

The idea is that officers in the community can stop crime at its source, so there is less need for response teams to come in later. Officers say it enables them to focus on individuals and take action if they are causing a problem.

Officers have been assigned to areas, but they may be moved around depending on what specific problems emerge.

Thorne and Moorends will have three PCSOs and a PC. Armthorpe and its nearby villages will have the same.

Stainforth and its nearby villages will have five PCSOs and a PC, while Rossington has a constable and a pair of community support officers.

Finningley Bawtry and Tickhill, and nearby villages, will also have three PSCOs and a policeman between them.

Some of the issues that officers are seeing on the ground are pretty common to all parts of Doncaster.

One of those is nuisance quad bikes and off road motorcycles. Insp Payling says there have been a significant number of complaints about the issue.

The response has been a forcewide team which has been set up made up of officers on their own off road bikes, which mean they are able to follow the suspects in a way that they have not previously been able to do.

"We've been saying phone up and we may not be able to respond straight away, but we can build up and intelligence picture," said Insp Payling. "We've been able to secure funding for additional motorbikes. We've now got five off road bike officers who also off road in their spare time. They've been trained up and we can now provide a team that can respond to this issue.

"We have already run a number of operations. We've responded to the community needs and identified a way to deal with the problem."

There are other issues that are common across the district. Speeding is one, and Insp Payling is looking to get more of his PCSOs out on operations at sites of concern within the community, at hot spots identified by the communities.

Insp Payling said: "People tell us when they see the PCSOs they slow right down. That is because we've done something positive."

Community success

Officers have also seen specific issues in specific towns in the Doncaster East patch since community police was launched.

Rossington has seen a community policing successes recently.

It had a spate of burglaries at one point last year.

But Insp Payling said burglaries has plunged in Rossington since a burglar was arrested and convicted earlier this year. A number of the offences were burglaries of business sites. August saw 20 burglaries recorded. That figure plunged with the number in September down to nine, October down to two. He said: "We believe it shows the impact an individual can have on a community."

Another issue in the village has been a spate of shoplifting incidents - eight in a week. A community officer looking into the issue found a suspect after looking at CCTV cameras. The suspected has been arrested and charged.