Dozens of police descended on a Southampton estate in a bid to curb anti-social behavior and illegal motorcycling.
Taking to the streets of Millbrook, area police officers patrolled for hours, keeping their eyes peeled for any crime.
The Daily Echo joined PC Simon Peacock of the Southampton West Neighborhood Police Team on Friday as he and the rest of his team carried out a flashmob operation.
Stopping at known hotspots, officers engaged with community members to reassure them and reduce crime.
The operation mainly targeted parts of the Millbrook estate and saw police vehicles patrolling Windermere Avenue, Mansel Park, Kendal Avenue and the roads in between.
The team also visited businesses in the area, including McDonald’s, Sainsbury’s and convenience stores, where “young people are known to congregate and cause trouble”.
PC Peacock said, “I try to get one flashmob a month. Everyone says they want to see a presence.”
When asked what area they covered during the flasmob, he added: “It’s a mix of your own feeling and what happened the day before. The park is usually where the motorbikes go. .”
The operation can be carried out with as few as five officers, but the more officers they have at their disposal, the larger the area they can cover.
PC Peacock said a few months earlier a member of the public informed them that motorbikes had been thrown among the trees in a wooded area.
On his way to the spot near Southampton General Hospital he discovered a mat which he said had been used to cover stolen motorbikes, along with crushed greenery where bikes had been placed and a tree burned where “something had clearly been set on fire”.
He then visited another known location along the M271 near Redbridge Community School.
At the site, he found discarded bicycle parts, which he says were likely taken apart to be sold for parts before being discarded.
“There are plenty of carcasses of old bikes there where they will set fire to them, dismantle them. It’s hidden, it’s out of the way.”
Calling on the public to get information, he added: “That’s the kind of information we really like to get.
“If you see them coming down here, tell us – we can direct our patrols here.”
Despite this, the force saw a reduction in motorcycle-related crime after using “more aggressive tactics”.
Having worked closely with schools in the area, PC Peacock used their in-depth knowledge of young people in the area to identify known troublemakers and keep tabs on them.
At one point, the officer timed a group of teenagers strolling around the corner of Millbrook Street.
He later revealed that he knew all the names of those involved.
On another occasion, he passed a group of young people near Mansel Park, who repeatedly waved at the car, clearly recognizing the familiar face.
PC Peacock added: “The 14 to 16 year old group. They are the ones who come back the most.
“Anyone who is 16-12 but 14-15 is our persistent group.”
At the end of the operation on Friday evening, PC Peacock said: ‘We have not come across any reported crime which is a measure of the success of what we have done.
“I can’t pretend that it’s because of the operation that nothing happened tonight.
“But I like to think that the number of times people will have seen us, visible, on patrol in the Millbrook area, it would only be reassuring that we were there.
“We listened to them to find out where the hotspots were and where the incidents were happening and we seek out and hunt for crime and anti-social behavior.”
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