Undercover police to combat violence in our town centres

Chief Insp Chris Hillery, the new district commander for Kettering and Corby
Chief Insp Chris Hillery, the new district commander for Kettering and Corby

A new district police commander will introduce undercover patrols inside bars and nightclubs in a bid to cut town centre violence.

And Chief Insp Chris Hillery, who took over as district commander for Kettering and Corby on Tuesday, has said he will shut down premises that flout their licence conditions.

He said: “Where people are not meeting our expectations or their licensing conditions, we will look at closure.”

Within a month, two or three officers in plain clothes will mingle with revellers inside nightspots in a bid to stop incidents before they happen.

The officers will work with staff to identify potential troublemakers and use dispersal powers, known as section 27 orders, to send them home or arrest them for minor offences.

Chief Insp Hillery said: “If that means a section 27 or an arrest for a low level offence, that’s better than someone bleeding and an ambulance being called.”

Officers will also check bar staff are not serving under-age drinkers or those already drunk, venues are within capacity, there are enough bouncers for the number of drinkers and they are properly trained and CCTV cameras provide images of a quality high enough for prosecutions.

Officers will follow up section 27 orders with home visits a few days later, when offenders will be given advice on anger management or dealing with a drinking problem.

Chief Insp Hillery, 34, who applied for the role after working for four years behind a desk at headquarters, said: “We will visit offenders and make them aware when they are sober in the cold light of day that their behaviour was not acceptable.”

Police have been carrying out high-visibility patrols of town centres on Friday and Saturday nights as part of Operation Nightsafe, and uniformed officers will remain on the streets, but Chief Insp Hillery said they need to get closer to the action.

He said high-visibility patrols are not the answer because they give the impression the problem is worse than it is in reality and offenders just change their behaviour while police are in view.