Police encourage Richmond falls visitors to leave as town pulls together to monitor behaviour and clean up rubbish

Police engage with visitors on the falls last year. Photo: Colin Naylor.

Police stepped in yesterday evening to encourage people gathered on the falls in Richmond to leave as councillors, volunteers and even the visitors themselves helped clean up the area.

Large groups of people congregated on the falls throughout the weekend, with further problems of litter, anti-social behaviour and inconsiderate parking reported.

Local police officers were joined by military police from Catterick Garrison over the weekend to monitor behaviour.

As well as local councillors and officers from Richmondshire District Council, staff from a private security firm were also brought in to help manage the situation and engage with the visitors.

Crowds at the falls on Sunday. Photo: Chris Collier.

Officers encouraged groups which remained on the falls on both Saturday and Sunday evening to move on, while local community leaders, council staff and volunteers helped clean up the area.

Large amounts of rubbish were again collected, with images showing helpers even jumping into the water to collect litter.

Visitors were also encouraged to help with the litter pick-up on Sunday evening.

Inspector Mark Gee, from Richmondshire neighbourhood policing team, said a multi-agency community response had taken place in the town to limit address the anti-social behaviour.

He said communities across the country had experienced issues with gatherings of large amounts of people, but he added: “I’m not aware of anywhere where the community has come together as quickly as it has in Richmond.”

Cllr Helen Grant, chair of Richmondshire community safety partnership, which coordinated the response, said that following issues in previous weekends it had been decided that doing nothing was “not an option”.

She said: “It was all pulled together within 48 hours.

“As far as I’m aware it was something that has never been done before and and we have created a template now that can be used in the future.”

Cllr Grant said it was a minority which had been responsible for the anti-social behaviour.

She added: “Our message was one of education — that people could come but to show some respect while they were here by not bringing huge amounts of alcohol and respecting that it’s a family environment and a beauty spot.”

The councillor said a meeting would be held this week to decide look at how the exercise had worked and what lessons could be learnt. [kofi]