Punishing rough sleepers in High Wycombe town centre leads to a “vicious circle”, says Thames Valley Police’s chief constable amid complaints from a councillor that something needs to be done about anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Arif Hussain, who represents Terriers and Amersham Hill at Bucks County Council, quizzed Francis Habgood on the work being down to tackle anti-social behaviour in High Wycombe town centre – particularly at Frogmoor.

It comes just months after Cllr Hussain raised concerns that families are avoiding the “nuisance” area of town because of bad behaviour and drinking.

At a county council meeting, Cllr Hussain said: “If you want people to come to Buckinghamshire to love and visit, then we really need to make sure that our towns are presentable.

“If you take High Wycombe for example – and I have made this point before – you come into Frogmoor and you have a group of people from early morning to late at night drinking and it isn’t a pleasant sight for people who come in from outside.

“I know there is a multi-agency approach, but somebody needs to take hold of this and really do something about it.”

Chief constable Habgood said enforcement is “not the first option” for tackling some of the issues Frogmoor faces – including rough sleepers.

He said: “It’s really important that we understand actually what the cause is and what options there are to support them. Because actually the approach may be a health one, it may be a local authority or a charitable organisation approach.

“There is lots of work that is going on in Wycombe town centre to look at the issue. We have seen an increase in the number of people who are rough sleeping in Wycombe and there is a group that is looking at how we address that.

“But enforcement is not the answer because they go in the court process and come out with a fine of say, £20, but they haven’t got the £20 to pay anyway and it’s just a vicious circle.

“You have to try and break the habit in a different way and that’s true with a lot of the anti-social behaviour.

“The best results we have seen are where we understand the challenges and are addressing the cause rather than the symptom.”

His comments come as Wycombe District Council prepares to vote on a motion calling on Thames Valley Police to give “greater prioritisation to the enforcement of available anti-social behaviour measures.”

The motion, put forward by council leader Katrina Wood, says: “WDC notes the increasing concern of councillors and members of the public regarding an apparent rise in instances of anti-social behaviour across the district and within Wycombe town centre in particular.

“WDC resolves to seek swift re-prioritisation of TVP resources to tackle this issue in conjunction with improved partnership working with other stakeholders to improve neighbourhood policing.”