STRATTON PCSOs are teaming up with local community groups to make Merton Fields a better place.

In an ongoing effort to keep the park safe, PCSO Tom Fryszka and his team are working with the Protect Merton Fields facebook group.

According to group members Alex and Tony, though antisocial behaviour in the area is still an issue, the situation has improved over the past few months.

Alex said: “It’s a lovely park, it’s nice to have so much green space in Stratton.

“I get a lot of reports on how the police are dealing with the problems there and it’s good to know that they’re around patrolling."

Tony said: “Since the PCSOs made tackling this park a priority, a lot of the anti-social behaviour has actually reduced.

“It’s not perfect but it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

“It’s used by so many people around here and it’s great for the Cubs and Scouts.

“We want to support the parish council and help them get as much input as they can from people in the surrounding areas.

“We also want to work with the community to organise events like litter-picking so people can see that Stratton residents care about the park."

PCSO Tom said: “The fear of crime here was greater than the evidence of crime in our reports.

"From what we can see, there's been a massive reduction.

"Over three months, we had 80 officers attending patrols and only three of them involved crimes, which is why we've deemed this a success.

"Our aim now is to ‘design out crime’ by improving lighting on paths so there are fewer dark areas, we don’t want people to feel intimidated.

"I will be networking with the parish council and the community to find out what we can add to the park so that it has something for everyone to enjoy like, for example, a multi-use games area."

The park became known as a hotspot for anti-social behaviour but its reputation may be improving.

Tony added: “It started to become more of an issue around September last year.

“Kids were congregating by the benches late at night, snapping new trees which had just been planted.

"Now we want to improve the park so that there’s something for youngsters to do that isn’t destructive.”