Kirkby Stephen: Statement following community meeting
Statement following last night’s community meeting in Kirkby Stephen from the Chairman of Appleby Fair’s Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group, Eden District Council Deputy Chief Executive Matthew Neal and Superintendent Mark Pannone of Cumbria Constabulary:
Yesterday evening we listened to the concerns of people from Kirkby Stephen and the surrounding area.
The issues raised primarily related to the lead up to this year’s Appleby Horse Fair.
The purpose of such meetings is to allow agencies to learn from the experiences of people living locally as we look to plan ahead for our response to future Fairs.
It is clear from the depth of feeling that this year there has been a greater impact on the Kirkby Stephen area than in previous years. This is borne out in our own statistics which show an unforeseen significant increase in the number of caravans at and around Kirkby Stephen this year.
We understand from the meeting last night, that the local community felt they would have liked more policing support. We can assure people that this is something we will seek to rectify prior to next year’s Fair so that people from Kirkby Stephen feel just as reassured and confident in the policing service and the service they receive from the different agencies, as the other areas affected by the Fair.
The different agencies put a great deal of planning and thought into the weeks leading up the Fair - not just the Fair itself. However, it is clear that more can be and should be done to help to significantly reduce the impact of Appleby Horse Fair on Kirkby Stephen and the Upper Eden Valley.
The policing of the 2018 Appleby Horse Fair, including the weeks leading up to and immediately following the Fair itself, will be reviewed to see what should be changed for next year.
An immediate issue of concern arising from the meeting is that it became clear some people have witnessed incidents and behaviour they are not happy with but have not reported those issues to the police. This causes great difficulty for the police in achieving an accurate, real-time picture of what is going on. If issues are not reported at the time, it hinders the ability of the police to respond effectively to issues as they arise. The Constabulary would always urge people to report offences to the police and people should always call 999 if a crime is in progress.
The Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group works all-year-round to improve its response to the Fair and the feedback received last night will form an important part of that work.