By Chris Binding LDRS

Police bosses are set to launch an operation in Sunderland city centre to crack down on crime during the Christmas period.

The scheme is being led by Northumbria Police and will come into force on December 2 to coincide with the end of England’s second national lockdown.

In line with previous initiatives, ‘Operation Elf’ will see more visible police patrols keeping people safe in the city centre.

It will also focus on reducing anti-social behaviour, deterring crime and dealing with any Covid-19 offences.

“For the month of December we will be doing a city centre crime and anti-social behaviour operation again,” said Inspector Jamie Southwell, of Northumbria Police.

“This year, that will be called Operation Elf, it starts on December 2 and will run up until Christmas Eve.

“The main focus is on high visibility foot patrols in the areas of high footfall and we will be focusing on violent crime and any Covid offences that we come across will be dealt with.

“And it will be to prevent and deter crime and anti-social behaviour with the city centre team taking a lead – but we also have a little bit of funding where that will bring some additional cops in as well.”

Insp Southwell was speaking at Sunderland City Council’s East Sunderland Area Committee on 30 November, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.

At the meeting, Millfield ward councillor Niall Hodson raised concerns about antisocial behaviour issues at the recently-renovated Minster Park.

“There’s a lot of kids congregating there in the late afternoon / early evening and there’s skateboard and BMX,” he said.

“It’s causing a great amount of disturbance for the church and for the residents in the Almshouses. It is really noisy and obviously it is damaging that lovely new park.”

Police bosses said the site was included in the city centre operation and that they would look into the issue.