Update on recent anti-social behaviour outside Tesco in Canton

I recently met with Inspector Ben Davies of South Wales Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Cardiff West to discuss antisocial behaviour and other illicit activities which have recently taken place on Cowbridge Road East. Also attending the meeting were the local Canton and Riverside councillors.

The police recognise that this is a long running and ongoing issue, and that it appears to have worsened in recent months.

In July 2021, Riverside Councillors were in contact with the police to seek an update on the action being taken to stem this issue. The police engaged with the Calvary Baptist Church and undertook further research to understand the situation more fully. This determined, they said, that the group’s anti-social behaviour was ‘very much under reported.’ They were encouraging businesses and residents to report their experiences to officers, building local knowledge and intelligence so that they could more effectively target their action.

In the meeting on Friday 23 September, Inspector Davies repeated this plea that residents be strongly encouraged to report incidents. To help facilitate this, and in recognition of the pressures and waiting times for the 101 non-emergency phone lines, I have requested that contact details for neighbourhood police officers be shared with my office to be passed on to residents to report incidents directly to neighbourhood officers. When received, I will make these contact details available on my website and on my automatic response to emails.

Inspector Davies also agreed that cooperation between local officers and local representatives should be strengthened, and we are planning make arrangements where possible for officers to be present alongside local representatives when we conduct our community surgery sessions with local residents.

Officers have already explored and will continue to explore and test the use of prohibition and dispersal orders. I am aware that South Wales Police trialled the issuing of Section 35 dispersal orders between 25 and 28 August of 2021, and again following our recent meeting between 23 and 26 September 2022. One benefit of these orders is that officers can gather the information of the members of the groups in question to develop their understanding of the circumstances. It also gives officers powers to ask them to leave or face arrest if they do not comply.

Despite all this, it is well known that the homeless status of these groups adds complexity in finding long-term solutions. The response should therefore be multi-organisational. To that end, I have written to Cllr Huw Thomas, the Leader of Cardiff Council, to raise these concerns and to ask that immediate action be undertaken to seek to resolve the issues. You can find this letter attached and I will share his response with you when I receive it.

Finally, the issues seen on Cowbridge Road East are indicative of wider policy failures by the UK Government’s Home Office. Cuts to law enforcement budgets over the last 12 years have not only reduced police presence on the streets, but have also limited people’s access to vital reporting services which deprives police forces of on-the-ground intelligence and denies victims access to justice. I have written to Suella Braverman KC MP, the new Home Secretary, to highlight these issues and to ask what action she plans to take to resolve them. You can find this letter attached, and I will share her response with you when I receive it.

Along with local councillors, I intend to maintain engagement with Inspector Davies and the Chief Inspector for Neighbourhood and Problem Solving for Cardiff & Vale, John Paul Wade. We have agreed to arrange a follow-up meeting in due course to assess any progress. With this in mind, I would welcome ongoing feedback from you and other local residents to track the progress of the response to these matters.

I appreciate the distress that this has caused to Canton and Riverside residents for far too long, and I hope that this can lead to renewed and concentrated action by the relevant authorities.

As well as being in regular contact with South Wales Police on this issue I have also written to Cardiff Council Leader Huw Thomas and the Secretary of State at the Home Office, Suella Braverman MP. You can read these letters below.


Kevin Brennan MP

MP for Cardiff West