Designing out crime with church posters
POLICE and parishioners are to design crime-fighting posters in their fight against anti-social behaviour in a churchyard.
The crackdown is planned at St Paul's Church, in Dalehall, near Burslem, after reports of vandalism, drinking and urinating in the grounds.
The posters will remind residents what churches should be used for.
Now Staffordshire Police have stepped up patrols in the area.
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The Reverend Darren McIndoe, who has been the rector at the church for two years, said: "Some of the residents are using the churchyard in anti-social ways and we are encouraging them not to do this.
"We are keeping an eye on the situation and we are trying to encourage people to use the churchyard properly."
He added: "There are also many positive uses for the churchyard which we are proud of.
"The local children will often use it to play football and you see dog walkers coming through quite often.
"In the summer people will come to use the churchyard and it almost becomes an extension of the local parks. It is a lovely sight and it brightens my day."
Beat bobbies have already spoken to a number of youngsters suspected of causing trouble in the church grounds.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "We have been informed that residents are concerned about anti-social behaviour around St Paul's Church.
"We have increased uniformed patrols around the church and officers are working with the vicar and local councillors.
"Together we are to produce and display posters to go in and around the churchyard to warn about anti-social behaviour."
Residents today welcomed the churchyard crackdown.
Retired nursing assistant Patricia Woodward, aged 64, of Newport Street, Middleport, said: "We have had trouble with people drinking in the churchyard and urinating in public.
"It is an awful sight for residents and I usually like to walk my dogs through there. I think it is getting better and I am very pleased to hear of a new scheme to keep it that way.
Administrative worker Andrew Beresford, aged 37, of Ellgreave Street, Dalehall, said: "We do get kids hanging around at weekends because they are looking for somewhere to go. But I think the problem is improving and now there is a community centre it has improved.
"I hope the police do keep an eye on it because I don't think there are enough patrols in the area.
"I can count on one hand how many times I have seen them checking on people in the churchyard."