'Operation Holly' as police launch Christmas crackdown on criminals and yobs in South Shields town centre

Police have promised a Christmas crackdown in South Shields town centre, with the hope it might entice more shoppers back to its stores now lockdown is over.

Inspector Phil Baker hopes Operation Holly will help encourage shoppers to support the town centre.
Inspector Phil Baker hopes Operation Holly will help encourage shoppers to support the town centre.

Operation Holly will see officers making high-visibility patrols in King Street and the surrounding area, and taking no nonsense from those who break the law or engage in antisocial behaviour.

A similar initiative in 2019 helped slash crime rates over the festive period, with a special focus on repeat offenders and opportunist thieves.

And officers from Northumbria Police hope they can repeat the trick this time around, while also improving conditions for struggling businesses.

Inspector Phil Baker of Northumbria Police.

“As always I will have a Christmas operation, Operation Holly, which is in place and running in the town centre,” said Inspector Phil Baker, who is responsible for the West Shields and the Riverside areas of South Shields.

“What that means is normally when I don’t have a Riverside team on, the lack of coverage in the town centre isn’t an issue because I will put additional resources in to cover that.

“There should be yellow jackets in and around the town centre every day to try and keep a hold on the issues in the town centre and try and encourage people to go back there and start using it, which they are.”

Insp Baker was speaking at a meeting of South Tyneside Council’s Riverside Community Area Forum (CAF) on December 8, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

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King Street after the second national lockdown ended on December 2

In 2019, Operation Holly was credited with a 58% fall in the number of thefts and attempted thefts compared to December 2018.

Violent crime also fell by more than a tenth over the same period, while 14 people were arrested in the town centre for ‘a range of offences’.

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Its pubs and restaurants also remain closed due to Tier 3 covid restrictions at what is usually their busiest time of year, leaving owners, managers and customers fearful for the future.

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