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									SRB 5 COMMUNITY SAFETY THEMATIC REPORT:




                                                    Liz Cunningham
                          Health and Social Policy Research Centre
                                   University of Brighton, July 2001
TABLE OF CONTENTS




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Introduction

This report brings together the key responses people gave during the
Consultation that relate to community safety.

The key themes that emerged were:

      the numbers and frequency of police on the beat needs to be
       increased. This was a global issue across the majority of
       communities of interest and neighbourhoods

      the employment of Park Wardens or Keepers is a key issue for
       young people and women and was raised in several
       neighbourhoods

      inadequate street lighting was another global issue across all
       groups

      the issue of racism needs to be addressed

      people are concerned about the levels of vandalism, with several
       neighbourhoods raising this issue as a priority for change

      people suggested several areas where they felt an increase in
       CCTV would reduce crime problems



Other themes that were important were racism, bullying and homophobia in
schools, but these have been placed within a separate thematic report on
Education.




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Key Community Safety Themes

Numbers of Police on the Beat

NVIVO: the words “police presence” drew out 50 passages in 16 reports, “visible police” drew
out 17 passages in 10 reports and “police on the beat” drew out 9 passages from 4 reports

The call for a more visible police presence on the streets was universal across all
neighbourhoods and all communities of interest. It was consistently raised by at least half of
those consulted and was expressed very strongly by many respondents. In some
neighbourhoods, community safety was the issue that received the most attention. In
Bevendean, for example, increased community police presence was the most prominent
recommendation received, with 49% of residents raising the issue. In Craven Vale young
people in particular felt there was not enough of a police presence locally. The Black and
Minority Ethnic Partnership consultation reported that the second highest improvement
requested was increased police presence or more speedy response to calls.

In the Kingswood and Milner consultation report, the issue of low level of police presence and
response to ‘call outs’ was universally agreed by all agencies, apart from the police
themselves, who did not mention this.

In Woodingdean, the absence of a CBO for long periods of time alongside the significant
vandalism problem, has caused people to lose confidence with law enforcement agencies, the
neighbourhood report says.

                                     „The police are invisible‟
                                         (Older resident)

                                       „What policing?‟
                                    (Woodingdean resident)

Particular groups’ for example the young, older people, people with disabilities, women and
ethnic minorities, users of public transport and those with learning difficulties, expressed their
wish to see a much more visible police presence in different ways and for different reasons.

When discussing the location and timing of police presence, young people expressed a need
for more police on the beat in the town centre and in specific neighbourhoods; West Hove,
Hangleton and Queens Park. Many people, women and men, felt there was a special need
for more police presence after dark. Older people expressed a real fear of crime and are
scared of going out at night.

Many of the groups felt that there used to be far more foot patrols than there are now and that
community safety had become a lower priority

           „Community safety plays a walk-on part compared to property protection‟
                                  (Women‟s consultation)

Drug dealing and usage was widely seen as one of the most potent sources of crime and of
the sense of a lack of police protection.

It was extremely instructive that in several neighbourhoods the researchers made the point
that the Community Beat Officers were so difficult to reach that they were unable even to fix a
meeting with them. However, many groups expressed approval of the conduct of community
beat officers when they did deal with problems.


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Policing evidence:
Bevendean Neighbourhood: Increased community police presence was the most prominent
recommendation with 49% of residents raising this issue.
Kingswood and Milner Neighbourhood: Better police presence and action -12.4%
Consumer Consultancy: More community policing, including visible police presence - 62
similar responses
Poets’ Corner Neighbourhood: More police presence/on the beat - 44.5%
Regency Neighbourhood: The central issue raised here was the need for increased police
presence in the area. Many residents felt the police were only ever visible in the town centre
or sea front and even then they stayed in their patrol cars.
BMECP: more than half the respondents had concerns about safety, around a general fear of
crime and violence, followed by comments
concerned with racist attacks and abuse. People felt the police response was poor when they
were needed. Around 10% of respondents commented on the lack of police presence and
police patrols. Better policing overall ranked 2 by respondents.
South Portslade Neighbourhood: Many respondents made criticisms of the lack of police
presence in the area, decline in visible presence, and delay in response when contacted.
Overall, the police were viewed as ineffective.
Terence Higgins Trust: it was still felt by 13 of the 19 respondents that there needed to be
more police on the streets. This linked in to the problem of homophobic attacks identified by
14 people
Women’s Consultation: Ranking 1 called for even more Police presence, in
neighbourhoods, known to the community and at particular times of the night
Woodingdean Neighbourhood : No visible police presence (over 6 weeks)
Equality Associates: 9% wanted to see more Police on the beat



CCTV

      “Generally, support for CCTV appears not to be the preserve of any particular section of
opinion. Instead, people seem to regard it as another tool with which to manage (or re-impose
                                    order upon) places and behaviours deemed problematic”.
                                                                           P. Squires (1998:6)

NVIVO: the word “CCTV” drew out 36 passages in 14 reports

In the SRB5 Consultation, a frequently quoted alternative to more ‘bobbies on the beat’ was to
have a much more extensive coverage of CCTV cameras. These were widely felt to have a
deterrent effect on those acting criminally or anti-socially and they gave a number of groups
an improved sense of security. We found that comments on CCTV came from older people,
young people, disabled people, HIV + service users, women and several neighbourhoods,
though not all.

In the Squires quote above we can see that people seem to regard CCTV as a way of re-
imposing order on an area. This could suggest that any areas people identified as in need of
CCTV, are areas people consider in need of more control, so I have extracted from the data
comments on any areas referred to in this way. There were several mentioned and they are:

        Preston Circus
        Bevendean – increase the area covered
        Coldean
        Hollingbury – at Stanmer Heights and Carden Avenue shops
        Kingswood and Milner – at the Flats



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        South Portslade -Vale Park, especially near the play area
        Poets Corner
        Regency
        Kemptown, especially around the Hospital

Outside of these requests, people felt that all public parks should have CCTV and that it was
seen as a positive thing to have in the town centre. In Squires study he also found (1998:11)
that a result of CCTV installation was that people felt safer in areas that had CCTV installed,
and in the town centre in particular, felt ‘less prone to crime’.

We had similar findings in the Consultation in Brighton and Hove. Young people and women
felt CCTV was reassuring and supported its use in both the town centre and on estates saying

                       “cameras are good on the estate to stop crime”.

             “more cameras and better lighting on estates and areas of housing”.


CCTV evidence:
Equality Associates: 4% wanted more CCTV
Hollingbury Neighbourhood: CCTV by Stanmer Heights requested by 12
Kingswood and Milner Neighbourhood: 1.9% wanted CCTV cameras
Poets’ Corner Neighbourhood: 9.1% wanted more CCTV
Women’s Consultation: Rankings 3 & 4 called for improvements to street lighting, the
introduction of more CCTV cameras and the re-employment of park keepers (Wardens was
an alternative used) :


Racism

NVIVO: the words “racial harassment” drew out 19 passages in 6 documents

The Black and Minority Ethnic Partnership consultation said numerous comments were made
in the Community Safety category. Most people had a high concern about crime and violence,
followed by racist attacks, but primarily it was fear of racist attacks and abuse that featured
highly in the responses.

Many members of black and minority ethnic groups consulted, as well as on-line respondent’s
felt that they were less well protected by the police and were the victims of persistent
harassment. This issue is of growing importance as the proportion of people from ethnic
minorities increases. There was a strong call for increased awareness and sensitivity to black
and other ethnic minority groups and to refugees and travellers. The importance of language
skills were also brought out in this part of the BME consultation and also in the Kingswood and
Milner report. In the neighbourhood report for Kingswood and Milner, there were different
opinions about racism and racial harassment in the area. The Tenants Participation Officer
acknowledged ‘low level abuse’ took place. The CBO felt there was a high level of reporting
of incidents, but there were problems with communication due to access to interpreters. The
Councillor felt some families did face racist abuse but there were good relationships between
the community and the Tenants Association. The Tenants Association felt the BME families
didn’t respond as well as they had expected to suggestions of involvement and that they
tended to keep to themselves.

Part of the BMECP consultation concentrated on the issue of a Resource Centre. The
responses to questions around why there was a need for these services people felt that




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     “Since the demise of the Race Equality Service, there is a certain gap in services to the
    community…because of institutional racism and lack of appropriate services provision, it is
                         hard for BME people to get the best services”.

Part of the research also looked at indicators that could be used to measure improvements in
regeneration and or quality of life. The Community Safety section had various suggestions,
some of which are shown below:

     to liase with the Racial Harassment body for obtaining information how racist attacks and
      abuse are dealt with
     to continue and include training on race and cultural awareness which is currently done by
      members of the community in the police service and monitor/evaluate its implementation
     obtain information from the police on how they monitor and prioritise racist attacks and
      threats and how quick police response is to calls of emergency
     to feed back to the police the outcome of the consultation and the request for a visible
      police presence

Women also ranked racial harassment in their top ten issues and felt that it was prevalent on
estates, potentially ‘hidden’ and had been perpetrated by the police. One person said they
were

      “Worried about safety in the community, especially for young ethnic minority children”

Another that she was worried that

                    “Racially motivated attacks are not always reported as such”.

So it is not surprising that some improvements women wanted were around raising
awareness and providing training for the police and magistrates around discrimination women
face as well as racial discrimination. One person wanted:

    „Police training in anti-racist practices – especially for young black men. I am the mother of
                                                   one‟


Street Lighting

NVIVO: the words “street light” drew out 58 passages in 19 reports

In many neighbourhoods, and among many communities of interest, there were critical
comments about the standard of the street lighting. This was often felt to be of a poor design
standard and in many places the situation was made worse by vandalism and defective
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streetlights not being repaired . For older people these problems were often compounded by
the poor state of many pavements and by uncollected rubbish and other objects left on the
pavements.

In the Neighbourhoods the responses around lighting ranked highly in the community safety
improvements category.
               th
Regency – 5

1
 See the recent article in Regeneration and Renewal, 12 January 2001 “Light years ahead” which
discusses the evidence for the effect improved street lighting has on crime. One example showed a
41% reduction in incidents in a newly-lit area. People also became more satisfied with their
environment.


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                  th
Woodingdean – 4
                th
Hollingdean – 9 (particularly in Brentwood Park)
               nd
Bevendean – 2
               st
Hollingbury – 1 (particularly the path to ASDA)
               th
Hollingbury – 4 (the area generally)
                     nd
South Portslade – 2 (particularly Vale Park)
                  nd
Craven Vale – 2 (particularly Pankhurst Avenue)
Poets Corner – 5th




Street light evidence:
Count me In:                     Reasons for feeling unsafe:
                                 Male            Female
Poor street lighting             15.2%           25.4%

BMECP: improved street lighting was ranked 1 by respondents
Equality Associates: 7% wanted better street lighting
Interact: Everybody thought that bright street lights were very important as it made them feel
safe and they could see where to go, but to many were broken
Consumer Consultancy: better street lighting 33 responses
Terence Higgins Trust: 6 people felt that increased levels of street lighting would improve
how safe they felt in an area and discourage vandalism and graffiti.
Women’s Consultation: Rankings 3 & 4 called for improvements to street lighting, the
introduction of more CCTV cameras and the re-employment of park keepers (Wardens was
an alternative used)


Hot Spots
This section simply draws out those areas in the Neighbourhoods that people felt were ‘hot
spots’ or ‘problem’ areas that felt unsafe.

          Neighbourhood             Hot Spot

          South Portslade           Vale Road Park
          Kingswood and Milner      Tarner Park
          Poets Corner              Stoneham Park, north of Portland Road
          Woodingdean               ‘The Ridgeway’ – vandalism
                                    Bexhill Road and the Sunblest factory site – car
                                    racers and vandalism
          Hollingdean               Brentwood Road – joy riders
          Hollingbury               Stanmer Heights and Carden Avenue – nowhere
                                    safe for children to play


Park Safety

NVIVO: the words “park warden” drew out 7 passages in 5 reports and the words “park
keepers” drew out 10 passages in 2 reports




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In most neighbourhoods there were serious worries about safety in parks, especially among
parents who are still at work when children leave school for the day and need to spend some
time unsupervised in a park.

There were also widespread concerns among those who used parks and other open spaces
early in the morning or after dark. This was true of parks from Woodingdean to Hove.
Women and young people in particular ranked this as one of their top issues, stressing they
felt play areas in the city were not the safe, family-friendly environments they should be:

    „ „There‟s a feeling of insecurity in the parks in the early morning – no sense of police
                                              presence‟

                 „Bring back Park Keepers, make the parks safe for children‟

In particular some parks were known to be the site of hard drug dealing and use and young
people were afraid of the unsafe environment of their local parks and streets:



  „Get rid of dealers and robbers. I only take puff. I‟m talking about getting rid of scagheads‟
                                         (Young Person)

Drug dealers and users came up as the most prevalent issue for the young respondents.
They spoke of drug and drink debris found in parks and felt there were too many bushes, not
enough lighting and no supervisory presence.

Park Warden/Keeper evidence:
Young People: Saunders Park, the Level, Hangleton Park, Queens Park and Tarner
Lane were all mentioned as being unsafe parks.

Women’s Consultation: Ranking 4 relates to proposed increases in street cleansing
employees and employment of Park Wardens / Park Keepers:
Poets’ Corner Neighbourhood: Employ a park warden comes in at 3 in the top ten safety
improvements


Vandalism

NVIVO: the words “petty crime” and “vandalism” drew out 39 passages in 16 reports

There is a lack of confidence that the police will respond speedily to petty crime and
vandalism. Many respondents in almost all areas made the point that they were inhibited
about reporting crimes or anti-social behaviour for a range of reasons. These included a lack
of faith that police would respond to more minor incidents, a fear of reprisal in some areas
where criminals may live locally and have local knowledge and in some cases simply a
reluctance to get involved.

       „Police response times are slow and inadequate, therefore I don‟t bother to ring‟
                                   (Poets Corner resident)

                  „I don‟t like reporting things because then I‟m too involved‟
                                       (Craven Vale resident)

Vandalism evidence:




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Bevendean Neighbourhood: Although the majority of individuals felt safe in the area there has
been an increasing spate of vandalism and car crime that most people attribute to bored
young people and the lack of community policing as a deterrent. Vandalism drew 22
responses.
Equality Associates: vandalism and graffiti affected 18% of respondents
Hollingbury Neighbourhood: The decrease in Community Policing is a significant concern
(27% of those consulted) as is Youth Crime and Vandalism (24% of those consulted). This is
possibly more of a perception issue as according to the community officer Youth crime and
vandalism is not actually that high in the area
Interact: (4.) General vandalism. There was a whole range of complaints in this area
Regency Neighbourhood: Experienced property crime or vandalism (16)
Woodingdean Neighbourhood: This was one of the most significant problem areas identified
in the consultation. Those who declared vandalism as a community safety issue had all been
victims with the highest number of people directly experiencing some form of vandalism to
their car, garden or house living in ‘The Ridgeway’ area. This happened mostly of an evening
after the pubs closed as The Ridgeway is a popular route from the shops and pub to the south
of the village.




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Conclusion
The key point to emerge from the consultation was people’s overwhelming desire to see an
increase in police presence on the streets, or in their neighbourhoods.

A large number of respondents also expressed a desire to improve street lighting in the city
and to bring back some kind of supervisory posts in public parks, Young people expressed a
clear concern for safety in parks as well as some concern for visible policing and racism in the
city.

There was a great deal of interest shown in improving the police’s response to vandalism and
petty crime.

Overall, there was a feeling that community safety was one of the top issues discussed during
the consultation and one that needs regular, clear feedback to the community on change or
progress.




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REFERENCES:

Squires, P (1998) An evaluation of the Ilford Town Centre CCTV system, HSPRC Report,
University of Brighton




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