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Create a safer community

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01. Background

This factsheet provides you with practical activities to help you create safer communities where you live.

Everybody wants to live in a place where they feel safe. Crime and the fear of crime are still big concerns for a lot for people. Here in the North East we are lucky, as on average we have lower levels of crime than in many parts of England. However there is still a lot of crime related problems, and communities themselves can play a vital role in addressing these problems and helping their local neighbourhoods to feel safer.

The way we use public space can play a vital role in reducing criminal or anti-social behaviour. Schemes such as Neighbourhood Watch, Street Watch, and various environmental enhancement schemes can deter crime and help people to feel safe. The way we educate, involve and communicate issues about crime are also an important and effective way in its prevention.

Sustainable communities are places that we all want to live in. Safe and secure neighbourhoods are an essential component to achieving this. By working in partnership with local authorities and the police communities can greatly reduce crime, drug and anti-social behaviour; whilst making their neighbourhoods a nicer place to live for everyone.

02. Suggested Activities

The following steps can help you and your community group to tackle crime in your local area.

Step 1. Identify ways to tackle crime in your area

If as a group you decide to tackle crime in your local area you might like to look at your neighbourhood, and think about what crime related activities it is that you want to address.

As a group, think about your neighbourhood. Is there a particular problem with graffiti or vandalism? Maybe there is a street which is experiencing high levels of burglary? The type of project or initiative you plan to carry out should reflect your area and your community’s needs. There are many projects that a group could carry out to tackle crime in an area, here are a few ideas:

Join or set up a local neighbourhood watch scheme

Neighbourhood Watch is a partnership where people come together to make their communities safer. It involves the Police, community safety departments of local authorities, other voluntary organisations, and above all, individuals and families who want to make their neighbourhoods better places to live. It aims to help people protect themselves and their properties, and to reduce the fear of crime by means of improved home security, greater vigilance, accurate reporting of suspicious incidents to the police and by fostering a community spirit.

Anyone wishing to find out more about neighbourhood watch schemes including how to set one up or if one already exists in your area, you should visit the national website for Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch at www.ourwatch.org.uk. You can also contact your local authority’s community safety department or your local police constabulary’s community safety unit.

Active neighbourhood activities

The presence of people and activities across neighbourhoods can help to tackle crime. Sometimes known as Street Watch, local people get together with the police to walk around an area to address specific problems, improve community safety, provide reassurance and support the local police. For further information on this talk to your local authority community safety team or local police constabulary.

Environmental enhancement schemes

Improving and enhancing the local environment can also help to tackle crime. It can help to involve the community and help them to feel a little more responsible for where they live. It also can help to improve the quality of life for many in the community. There are hundreds of things that a group could do in order to enhance their local environment. It might involve removing graffiti or carrying out a community clean up. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you work with the local police and your local authority to carry out any work. Groups wishing to carry out a community clean up should also visit the factsheet ‘Create a cleaner neighbourhood’. Anyone wishing to create a community green space from unused land should visit the factsheet Create a green space in your community’.

Community-wide promotions

Promoting crime prevention within the community is another great way to tackle crime. Where possible work with the police or local authority to obtain information or posters to highlight crime prevention techniques. Alternatively you might like to create your own poster, or write an article in your local newsletter or paper. For advice and tips on communicating information to the wider community visit the factsheet ‘Communicate ideas and information’.

Community safety talks are also a great way of raising crime prevention and awareness. Your local police force or local authority community safety team should be able to assist you with arranging talks. Topics that you might like to consider promoting could include:

  • Personal safety at home covering issues such as locking doors and closing windows when you go out, window and door locks, deadlocks, timers for lights, fire alarms, burglar alarms and secure fencing. You might also like to highlight what people can do if they are victims of crime in their home.
  • Vehicle and bicycle safety covering issues such as locks, security marks, alarms and secure parking.
  • Community cohesion and respect.
  • Road safety.
  • Drugs and alcohol.
  • Domestic violence.

If you want to find out more about any of the above topics or develop activities around any one of them, you should look up further information on the Directgov, the Home Office or Crimestoppers website. Or alternatively contact your local authority’s community safety department or community safety unit at the local police constabulary.

Step 2. Seek professional advice

Once you have some initial ideas about the types of project(s) you wish to carry out, contact crime prevention professionals from your local authority’s community safety team or local police constabulary. It is always essential to seek professional advice before embarking on any crime prevention or reduction project. Such professionals will be able to give you in-depth guidance on carrying out crime prevention activities, as well as informing you of other on-going projects in your area. They may also be able to offer you assistance when carrying out your actual project(s).

Step 3. Finalise your plans  

Think about the scope of your project. What are you trying to achieve?  What do you want to change as a result of your project? Write this information down so that you can use it to help you form a plan of your project. To help you plan and implement your project visit the fact sheet ‘Plan your project’. You might also like to think about different ways you can achieve the aims of your project. What do you need to do in order to make sure that the changes happen? Think about who you need to contact. Will you need volunteers? What kind of funding will you need to ensure your project becomes reality? For further advice on funding issues visit the ‘Fundraising’ factsheet.

Remember to ensure that the project(s) you devise reflect the needs of your community. Once you are happy with your planned project, start your activities in earnest.

Step 4. Post-implementation

Whilst implementing your project, and afterwards, keep written records of everything you have done as a group. This helps to ensure you have an accurate record of your project. Try also to record press coverage and visitor numbers at any events you hold. Don’t forget to enjoy the work you do and make sure you tell the press and wider community about your activities. For help writing a press release visit the factsheet ‘Communicate ideas and information’.

03. Additional Information

There are so any activities you could undertake as a group to tackle crime.

Here are a few more examples to consider:

  • Improve local footpaths by removing overhanging vegetation, or by adding lighting to make people feel more safe and secure when they are out and about.
  • Create a graffiti wall in a local park to help prevent unwanted graffiti elsewhere.
  • Support vulnerable people such as the elderly by walking them to the shops or offering them a lift.
  • Organise community events to improve the sense of community within an area.
  • Provide a play park, skate-park or other facilities for young people. Remember to work with young people and local organisations such as your local authority in order to do this.

No matter what crime-related project you decide to carry out, always seek advice from your local police constabulary and local authority community safety team. Try to also stick to these principles when undertaking any work in the community:

  • Always remember to stay safe and away from danger.
  • If activities involve patrolling, always work in pairs or more. Never go out on your own.
  • Avoid confrontational or abusive behaviour.
  • Never break the law.
  • Encourage people to be observant and report suspicious activity.
  • If in doubt, call the police.

04. Funding Opportunities

You may need resources to help you deliver your project. Funding to tackle crime in your community may be sought from some of the contacts listed below.

Please visit the Directory for up to date information on current funding opportunities.

05. Useful Contacts

Here is a list of potential contacts that may be able to help you to tackle crime in your local area.

Local police constabulary

Each police constabulary has a dedicated unit tackling crime reduction and prevention. Your local crime reduction officer will be a good source of crime prevention advice. Contact your local officer through the numbers below or via their website:

Cleveland Police www.cleveland.police.uk

T: 01642 326326

Durham Constabulary www.durham.police.uk

T: 0345 606 0365

Northumbria Constabulary www.northumbria.police.uk

T: 0345 6043043

Your local crime and policing website for England and Wales provides you with helpful information about crime and policing in your area. www.police.uk

All local authorities have community safety teams or community safety partnerships. They can provide advice and guidance on crime prevention in your area. Full contact details can be found in the Directory.

Useful Websites

The following websites are also a great source of crime reduction and crime prevention advice:

Directgov’s Crime justice section on its website contains useful information. www.direct.gov.uk/en/CrimeJusticeAndTheLaw/index.htm

The Home Office is the government’s department responsible for reducing and preventing crime. www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime

Crimestoppers is an independent charity helping to find criminals and help solve crimes. www.crimestoppers.co.uk or call anonymously on 0800 555111.

06. Checklist

To help make your community safer place, follow these simple steps:

1 Identify ways to tackle crime related issues specific in your area. This might involve a neighbourhood watch scheme, ‘active’ street projects, environmental enhancement schemes or a series of community focussed crime prevention promotions/events.

2 Seek professional advice from the local police constabulary and/or local authority community safety team.

3 Plan your project.                                                                                                                   

4 Promote your good work to the community.

07. About the Contributor

The information contained within this factsheet has been adapted from information resources supplied by the Durham Police Constabulary.

This factsheet is part of the Brighter Futures Together toolkit and provides a general overview of the different ways to get involved in your community. It is not a comprehensive guide or legal advice document. Please seek further advice and appropriate consent before commencing any projects.

The material in the factsheet is not copyrighted however we ask that you acknowledge the Brighter Futures Together toolkit when you use them. www.brighterfuturestogether.co.uk