The Home Office has announced what it has trumpeted as the biggest pot to date from the Westminster Government’s Safer Streets Fund, covering England and Wales. A fifth round of the Fund, which dates from the Priti Patel-Boris Johnson years, will go to police and crime commissioners. There will be no need to bid competitively for the money, the Home Office adds – bidding having been a source of grumbling in local government, where some (who didn’t get grants or didn’t even hear about the scheme) grumbled that money didn’t go where it was most needed.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman visited Derbyshire Police on Tuesday. She said: “People up and down the country are sick of feeling intimidated by yobs in their communities and want to be able to feel safe walking down the street. Antisocial behaviour is not ‘low-level’ crime and that’s why I am determined to bring it to a stop by giving police the powers and the funding to stamp it out.
“There will be quick and visible consequences for individuals carrying out this behaviour before they start down the path to more serious criminality. I want to see the new funding we’re announcing today invested into more CCTV, better street lighting or gating, to make our streets safer for all.”
Meanwhile 16 police force areas, such as Cleveland, Derbyshire and Northumbria, are launching ‘hotspot’ policing initiatives or ‘immediate justice’ schemes, whereby offenders of antisocial behaviour are made to wear high-vis vests and repair damage they’ve caused locally – such as washing police cars, cleaning up graffiti and local parks, or litter picking; a reprise of a scheme in the Theresa May years as Home Secretary. Those trial areas are being funded as part of the government’s Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan as announced in March by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
As well, under the Chewing Gum Task Force, 50 councils across the UK will receive grants totalling £1.65m to remove discarded chewing gum from streets.
The June, July and August print editions of Professional Security Magazine have a series of articles about public space surveillance; featuring local government CCTV in Exeter, Oxford and Southend; and the annual conference of the CCTV User Group.
According to polling as part of a report on reform of the police, released this month by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI), 45 per cent of people say that crime is a problem in their local area, with ASB the most commonly experienced problem. Despite this, 41 per cent said that they did not report crime they witnessed or experienced to the police, with the most common reason given being that people did not think the police would take it seriously. Among reforms, the TBI called for ‘beefed-up standards regime and new ways for citizens to hold policing to account and drive action on ASB’.
Besides under-performance by police forces, the TBI report stated that the public ‘has perceived a marked decline in police responsiveness. Polling carried out for TBI in 2022 found that despite 42 per cent of people saying they had personally experienced ASB where they lived, 72 per cent did not bother to report it’. The report argued that ‘the public needs new ways to ensure the police maintain a focus on issues of local concern, such as ASB’.
At the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) Joint Prevention Lead Festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire’s PCC, said: “We welcome the opportunity to build upon the excellent prevention activities delivered over the previous rounds of the Safer Streets Fund.
“Safer Streets funding has made a real difference to the communities we serve by enabling Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to use their local knowledge of where investment is most needed, alongside their unique abilities to bring partners together to make our streets safer.
“Over previous rounds, PCCs have delivered an impressive range of initiatives that have made our streets safer and improved public confidence and feelings of safety. From the unique education sessions that challenge and address anti-social behaviour and violence against women and girls, through to delivering CCTV and streetlighting initiatives to reduce neighbourhood crime, PCCs look forward to continuing this vital work.”
Photo by Mark Rowe; on-street camera, Trafford, Manchester, reflected in office windows.