Cheltenham Borough Council has reported a decrease in anti-social behaviour during this year’s Cheltenham Festival, with complaints substantially lower than last year. Despite this, officials have emphasised that continued efforts will be needed to reduce disturbances in the town during jump racing’s biggest meeting.
Gloucestershire police recorded 547 incidents over the four-day event, with reports indicating that the town had a better handle on its anti-social behaviour problem following a collective effort by police, the local council, and the racecourse. Additional toilets and police patrols led to a drop in public urination incidents, one of the more common offences last year. The number of incidents at the racecourse was also lower, although ten arrests were made, including two staff members suspected of stealing money. Several altercations were reported, with one man arrested for knocking another’s tooth out.
Chris Nelson, Gloucestershire’s police and crime commissioner, expressed satisfaction with the overall decrease in incidents. Nevertheless, instances of violence and intimidation against women and girls remained a significant concern.
Nelson, Gloucestershire’s police and crime commissioner, said: “After the disgusting anti-social behaviour that marred last year’s festival, and the years of disruption faced by local residents, I was very clear that enough was enough and that we needed a real focus to crack down on this sort of unacceptable behaviour. That’s why I called together all of those involved and asked for a new focus on the impact on the community caused by the festival, and that has led to the joined-up action and better grip on the situation that we saw this year.
“Unfortunately some clearly still haven’t got the message but we have a good foundation from which to learn for next year, and show continued commitment to making sure the festival is a safe and enjoyable event for everyone.”
A police statement issued this week said that evidence would be reviewed to identify any patterns. While fewer complaints have been registered with the council, incident numbers during the festival remained higher than during a typical week in Cheltenham, where there were 245 fewer incidents in the week before the event.
Finally, attendance was down during this year’s Cheltenham Festival, with almost 40,000 fewer people in attendance than during previous years. The reasons for this decline are unclear, and it remains to be seen how the festival’s organisers will respond to the challenge of attracting visitors in the coming years.
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