Robbery and assault among incidents at Puttstars mini-golf in Peterborough - but police say anti-social behaviour has reduced
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More than 10 arrests were made at the Puttstars mini-golf course in Peterborough in its first four months of opening, Cambridgeshire police has confirmed.
Offences included assault, possession of a knife and multiple instances of robbery.
Issues with anti-social behaviour at the venue, which opened in Queensgate Shopping Centre in November, have been raised several times by police.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary says its response to the issue has included increasing patrols, issuing dispersal orders and making arrests.
Between 18 November and 12 March, 12 arrests were made relating to incidents at Puttstars, all of youngsters between the ages of 13 and 17.
Other responses have included youth cautions – a formal warning kept on record by police – and community resolutions, which is when the wrongdoer accepts responsibility for their actions and may try to make amends through apology, the offer of compensation or a promise to clear up criminal damage.
At Puttstars, a youth caution was issued after a teenager was found in possession of a knife, while community resolutions have been reached in some instances of assault.
No further action was taken over possession of cannabis and threats to kill.
Anti-social behaviour at Puttstars has reduced, police say
But police say that there has been a reduction in anti-social behaviour at Puttstars since it opened and that the venue has been co-operative in tackling the issue.
Chief Inspector Oliver Warsop, head of neighbourhood policing for Peterborough said that the business has been “very co-operative” and has also taken its own steps to reduce anti-social behaviour.
“We have been working closely with both Puttstars and Queensgate in response to anti-social behaviour in the area in recent months, including stepping up patrols, putting in place dispersal orders and also making several arrests and charges where crime has been committed,” he said.
“The issues are wider than a single venue and we are working with Queensgate and other partners to find longer term solutions for some of these issues.”
Inspector Warsop continued that both Puttstars and Queensgate “have been very cooperative and have taken steps themselves to reduce anti-social behaviour, which is a positive step forward for the city centre”.
He also confirmed that the force has considered anti-social behaviour injunctions for some individuals.
Police have 'long-term plans' to tackle anti-social behaviour at the venue
The possibility was also raised at a Peterborough City Council (PCC) meeting last month when Cllr Alison Jones (Labour) asked the inspector whether anti-social behaviour at Puttstars is “as bad as it sounds”.
Inspector Warsop said that there are some “longer-term plans” in place around this but that these will take a “matter of months, if not the rest of this year”.
But “a lot of those incidents have reduced significantly”, he added.
Inspector Warsop also outlined how Puttstars has “fully engaged” with police, including allowing them to undertake a crime audit on the premises and altering some policies and procedures such as around groups of young people turning up without bookings.
Puttstars says that the safety of its staff and patrons is its “top priority”
Jennifer Gillard, centre manager of Puttstars Peterborough, said: “Since our opening last year, we have worked hard to create a family friendly mini-golf experience where our guests can relax, have fun and make memories together.
“The safety of our guests and team members is always our top priority and we have invested in additional security measures to support preventing the unwelcome anti-social behaviour taking place within the Queensgate Shopping Centre.
“This approach has been positively received and there has been a reduction in incidents of anti-social behaviour over the last few months. We continue to be committed to working with the police and partners at Queensgate to help create a safe and welcoming city centre experience for everyone.”
Both Puttstars and police have stressed that anti-social behaviour is not unique to the mini-golf venue.
For comparison, there were 13 arrests at Queensgate Shopping Centre not related to Puttstars between 12 November and 5 February, all of teenagers aged 13 to 17.
Offences included assault, robbery, possession of a weapon, assault causing grievous bodily harm and assault of an emergency worker.
Queensgate has been approached for comment.