Fears rough sleepers, antisocial behaviour and street drinkers are 'scaring people away' from Gloucester city centre

Westgate Street, Gloucester
-Credit: (Image: Carmelo Garcia)


There are concerns people are actively avoiding the centre of Gloucester due to an increase in antisocial behaviour, according to several of the MP candidates. Six of the eight people hoping to become the city's next MP took part in a hustings organised by Gloucester Cathedral last night (June 24).

During the event, they shared their views on the perceived rise in crime, antisocial behaviour and homelessness and the effect it is having on the city. Conservative Richard Graham said violence, crime and antisocial behaviour are an issue that anyone who lives close to the city centre will know about.

He said he cycles and walks to and from the city centre most days and Gloucester has seen ups and downs. “Right now we’ve seen an increase since the end of March of antisocial behaviour, street drinkers and some violent behaviour particularly on Southgate Street,” he said.

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He said one of the reasons is because Gloucester is a city of compassion and people can get a hot meal somewhere free everyday. It is attracting more and more people from outside. “Becoming the rough sleeper, or street drinker destination of choice is not our aspiration.

“Secondly we need to do something practical so that the police community support officers have the powers they need to restrain people who are either drunk or violent.” He said it is something Tory police and crime commissioner Chris Nelson and the chief constable will be reviewing “very shortly”.

But he also said education is important and highlighted the effect bringing the Knife Angel to the city has had in Gloucester. “Since then, touch wood, we have not had another death and long may that last because it’s something we all have to work at.”

Conservative Richard Graham said "Gloucester becoming the rough sleeper, or street drinker destination of choice is not our aspiration".
Conservative Richard Graham said "Gloucester becoming the rough sleeper, or street drinker destination of choice is not our aspiration". -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

Labour’s Alex McIntyre said he disagreed with Mr Graham and said homelessness is not a lifestyle choice. “Offering people a warm meal isn’t causing crime in our city,” he said.

“We need more police officers. They are being asked to do more and more with less resources.”

He said his party is promising 13,000 more police officers in the UK. Mr McIntyre also gave an example of a shopkeeper who was assaulted in her premises and had to wait three days for the police to respond after calling 999.

“The amount of people who tell me they won’t come from Abbeydale or Quedgeley because of the street drinkers. Yes we have to tackle that, I’m not denying it. But we need more community police officers.”

Green Party candidate Adam Shearin gsaid his party takes a preventative approach to crime
Green Party candidate Adam Shearin gsaid his party takes a preventative approach to crime by looking to tackle poverty -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

Adam Shearing, of the Green Party, said his party has a policy of preventing crime by investing billions in education and career pathways to give people hope and the skills to get a job. “This is a real struggle people face. And when people are in poverty, they will steal.

“They will do what they need to do to keep going. We are all human, we all do what we need to survive.

“It begins with economic revitalisation, upskilling people so that they get the jobs for the future of the economy.” He also said policing needs to be compassionate so that communities can engage with them and understand that they are not being oppressed but supported.

“With facial recognition technology, it feels very 1984 with stop and search.”

Labour's Alex McIntyre said his party is promising 13,000 more police officers in the UK.
Labour's Alex McIntyre said his party is promising 13,000 more police officers in the UK. -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

Liberal Democrat Rebecca Trimnell said it is hard not to notice the desperate and vulnerable people who gather in Southgate Street every day. She said the system has failed them and does not actually care.

“A dear friend of mine, who is one such individual, died in November at the age 47 as a result of decades of drug and alcohol addiction," she said. “It is not just about investing in more addiction services and support for drug users including specialist youth support services.

“But about formulated a much more joined up approach with whoever is our next MP and the city and county councils, key agencies and voluntary organisations. One would hope we will see a decrease in antisocial behaviour.

“Residents who I have spoken to on the doorsteps during this election campaign wanting to come back into the city. There have been far too many people who are now deliberately avoiding Gloucester city centre and choosing other towns in the county to visit instead.

Liberal Democrat Rebecca Trimnell said it is hard not to notice the desperate and vulnerable people who gather in Southgate Street every day. She said the system has failed them and does not actually care.
Liberal Democrat Rebecca Trimnell said it is hard not to notice the desperate and vulnerable people who gather in Southgate Street every day. She said the system has failed them and does not actually care. -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

“We are such a historical and beautiful city and yet to hear people going to other places is really awful."

Reform UK candidate Chris Farmer, a former police officer, said the force talks about too many things that do not concern them. He said they should not be recruiting people on gender, sexuality or origins.

“The police officers' role is there to prevent and detect crime,” he said. He believes the way to do that is to get more police in the city. He said the police headquarters should have been kept in the centre of Gloucester.

“We need to have more police officers on the beat. We should be seeing police officers on The Cross all the time in the centre of Gloucester. Only with a uniformed police officer presence will we reduce crime”.

Workers Party of Britain candidate Steve Gower said the antisocial behaviour in the city is a symptom of the cost of living crisis and lack of affordable housing
Workers Party of Britain candidate Steve Gower said the antisocial behaviour in the city is a symptom of the cost of living crisis and lack of affordable housing -Credit:Carmelo Garcia

Workers Party of Britain candidate Stever Gower said the biggest issue affecting people with the cost of living crisis is the lack of housing. He said by empowering people it empowers the community.

“It’s got to start from the bottom up," he said. "Kids need a meal in the morning before they go to school.

“There are mothers worried they have no food on the table for when they come back home from school. The cost of living crisis costs a lot.”

He said the antisocial behaviour in the city is a symptom of that problem.