Local social-media sites have carried numerous stories recently about anti-social behaviour across our community.
One area under pressure is Radyr Cricket Club. Property at the club has been vandalised; some young people are using the square to play football (causing damage to the playing surface); club members have been threatened and intimidated; litter has to be cleared away on a regular basis (it contains copious amounts of drug paraphernalia, including nitrous oxide capsules and small plastic bags used for carrying cannabis). Other areas can face similar issues, including Radyr Woods.
You can read here about the use of Nitrous Oxide - and the risks involved. And here's some advice about the use of Cannabis and the risks involved.
Gatherings at these sites can continue way into the night - and the noise made by those present can disturb nearby residents, sometimes until around 2.00am.
One early response to this will be the Cricket Club's installation of additional CCTV equipment across their site.
We value our young people
Radyr and Morganstown Community Council greatly values our young people - and recognises that they have faced unprecedented and difficult circumstances recently, during the pandemic. Like everyone else, they have had to lockdown - and have become keen to catch-up with their friends. We recognise that they need to be supported - and should be encouraged and assisted to have fulfilling lives and to be good citizens.
We also recognise that young people behaving in an anti-social manner represent just a tiny minority of young people as a whole - and we are told by the police that most of those who behave badly come from outside Radyr and Morganstown.
To discuss this issue, we met recently with cricket club officials, our community police, British Transport Police and youth worker representatives.
The following was discussed:
Residents should ring the 101 number to report anti-social behaviour. Each call is added to a record of formally reported incidents in R&M. The more incidents placed on record, the more likely it is that R&M can be allocated additional police resources.
If the 101 line is busy, residents can report anti-social behaviour online, here.
[Other types of problems can be reported here.]
As with 101, online reports will be added to the record of formally reported incidents in R&M, increasing the justification for additional police resources.
However, incidents reported online may not result in an immediate police response (a 'phone call to 101 is 'live' - whereas the online service is checked every 10 to 15 minutes - so might result in a slight delay).
Residents can also ring 999. Justification for this, according to the police, could include mass gatherings, incidents of aggression or intimidation; ongoing nuisance; vandalism and damage to property; anti-social behaviour; music; public consumption of drugs and alcohol linked to the above; noise and nuisance late at night.
The 999 responder may refuse to deal with the case as a 999 call (for instance, if other more serious problems are being dealt with - or if the responder does not agree that the incident sounds serious enough. In these cases, the call will be downgraded to a 101 call but - importantly - will be added to the database of formally recorded incidents).
As mentioned above, 101 calls can help justify additional police presence. This could include special operations (eg on fine summer weekend evenings, or on Halloween night, or on evenings when local intelligence suggests that a mass gathering is being organised).
In the meantime, our community police will continue to patrol various sites around Radyr and Morganstown, to offer advice and guidance and ensure that our young people stay safe. We may also see the use of PSU vans in future (these transport a number of police officers to areas experiencing large scale disorder).
Visitors from elsewhere
The police understand that young people are travelling by train to Radyr and Morganstown from Barry, Ely, Fairwater, Riverside, Tongwynlais / Taffs Well, Pontypridd etc.
The police believe that ease of access by train, pleasant surroundings and multiple 'escape routes' attract them (especially near the river next to the cricket club).
British Transport Police told us that they will increase ticket checks on the trains bringing those people, during the 'peak visiting times'. Many travel without a ticket - so these checks may act as a deterrent to travel. According to the police, those who engage in anti-social behaviour tend to be between 14 and 16 years old.
Our community police and a local resident with youth work experience have sought support from Cardiff Council's Stay Safe scheme (where youth workers engage with young people, offering advice and activities). Already, some street based youth workers have attended parts of Radyr to engage with young people.
Safe spaces and activities for young people
We need to consider the provision of a safe space where young people can meet and socialise without disturbing local residents. We also need to consider whether safe activities can be provided for young people. This will require careful thought and consultation.
In the meantime, anyone with any ideas about suitable locations or activities is welcome to contact the community council. We are also keen to hear from our young people about this issue.
The Welsh Government's announcement on 9 July that schools should fully reopen in September may help bring some welcome respite from anti-social behaviour, as attention returns to school work and extra-curricular activities, including sports.
The new Multi Use Games Arena in Morganstown should also help keep our young people safely engaged in healthy activities.
What can parents do?
Parents will know that they should talk to their children about anti-social behaviour, which can include littering, causing disturbance through noise (especially late at night); using drugs (especially in public places); swearing and intimidating others - and vandalism.
Parents will also want to know where their children are going - and with whom.
Parents might not be aware, however, that groups of up to 100 young people can gather near the cricket club, where alcohol and drugs may be consumed.
Parents might also want to encourage their children to let them know about any anti-social behaviour they see, especially vandalism, violence - or the sale of drugs.
Youth Engagement Working Group
The community council has established a Youth Engagement Working Group, chaired by Cllr Myles Vatsaloo. The group will work with young people, in liaison with Radyr Comprehensive School and others, to consider the provision of activities and facilities for young people.
I must emphasise, however, that we greatly value our young people. The anti-social behaviour we have experienced is caused by a tiny minority of young people - and we are told by the police that most of those who behave badly come from outside Radyr and Morganstown.
So let's do what we can to support our youngsters!