Street wardens have been deployed in Taunton town centre this week to provide reassurance for shoppers and visitors following concerns over rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour.
Taunton Deane Borough Council is initially funding the wardens for various day and night shifts in a “random” working pattern that will focus on key hotspots in the town.
They will then operate on a regular daily basis from 29 November through to 31 December excluding Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The wardens will also cover the traditional late night shopping evenings in the run-up to Christmas to help make the festive season safe and enjoyable.
Cllr Jane Warmington, who holds the community leadership portfolio, said: “We hope this will bring some confidence to our community that we are actively doing what we can to ensure our town is safe and that those most vulnerable are supported.
This is a short-term measure to address the current issues being experienced in the town centre and to compliment the work we are already doing through the Rough Sleeping One Team.”
The One Team approach is one of a number of initiatives the Council has put in place this year to address the problems associated with rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour locally.
It has been chairing weekly meetings with partners including the Police, ARC, Open Door, the Somerset Partnership NHS Trust and other support agencies to ensure that appropriate and necessary steps are being taken with every rough sleeper in the town centre.
The multi-agency approach aims to identify the issues of real concern and develop a joined-up service for rough sleepers to help them break the cycle of homelessness and addiction.
The street wardens will link into the One Team meetings and work alongside outreach workers and the Council’s rough sleeping co-ordinator.
They will report problems, for example broken glass and sharps/needles; liaise with other agencies; move on beggars, street drinkers, legal highs users; and help the vulnerable to a safe place.
They will also make physical checks of key locations such as car parks, public toilets and cash points and administer first aid – as appropriate.
The trained patrols will be high visible as they will be badged as Taunton Deane Borough Council street wardens.