One serious assault a day in York city centre – with Saturday afternoons a flashpoint

Photograph: Richard McDougall

Violent crime in York city centre rose last year according to police figures, which show there was an average of one serious assault a day.

And the majority of incidents take place on weekends, particularly on Saturday afternoons, and between 11pm and 4am.

As part of a report written for council licensing bosses, police listed the six premises they were called to most often in 2017/18:

  • a takeaway on Blake Street
  • a nightclub on Clifford Street
  • a late night bar at George Hudson Street/Micklegate
  • a large bar on Low Ousegate
  • a nightclub on George Hudson Street
  • and a large bar on Micklegate.

The figures relate to the Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) in the city centre.

Serious concern

Guildhall councillor Janet Looker said the increase in assaults occasioning actual bodily harm – from 250 in 2016/17 to 365 in 2017/18 – is “of serious concern.” The report says nearly half of violent incidents are alcohol fuelled.

Cllr Looker said:

  • These figures will do nothing to allay the fears of those who claim the city centre is not somewhere to visit on Saturdays or weekend evenings, especially with children.

    It’s a difficult issue for the police and others to contend with.

    But we cannot ignore the link between licensing and anti social behaviour and crime when licences are being considered, and must listen carefully to the police on these matters if we are to make York a more welcoming city for everyone.

Cllr Denise Craghill, Green councillor for Guildhall, added: “We always have to be a bit careful about how we interpret statistics – we all know that for the majority of the time York still has a very attractive and safe city centre full of history, interesting independent shops and cultural attractions.

“But on the other hand these figures are a very real concern and back up the worries of many residents and city organisations, with some residents unwilling to come into the centre at certain times of the week.”

She said she would like to see the council move forward with a resolution outlined at a full council meeting in December to take action on crime and anti social behaviour and called for a city centre summit.

Complaints up 27%

Premises on George Hudson Street were highlighted in the report. Photograph © Google Street View
Guildhall councillor James Flinders added: “Residents who live in the city centre will be very concerned at the rise in violent incidents. No resident should have to put up with this on their doorstep.”

The council’s public protection team said noise complaints about pubs, bars and nightclubs also increased by 27 per cent last year, with the most complaints reported in Micklegate, Clifford Street and Fossgate.

But police said there was a 10 per cent drop in anti-social behaviour, which they put down to the work of the community safety hub, council enforcement officers and York BID street rangers.

Matthew Boxall, head of public protection at the council, said a review of licensing must be carried out every five years and added: “We continue to be one of the safer cities in the UK. The streets where most incidents occur are on routes out of the city centre and have pinch points such as people waiting at taxi ranks.

“Partners including the North Yorkshire Police, British Transport Police and licensees are updating our campaign encouraging responsible and safe behaviour and we have planned multiagency days of action at weekends throughout the coming year.”

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