Islington crime and safety summit: Role for ‘active participation’ of community, says council
Islington Council and the local police led a crime and safety summit at Islington Town Hall last Saturday [22 March], encouraging the community to take action in preventing and reducing crime despite a drop of 12% in overall crime in the last 12 months.
The Safer Neighborhood Board, launched this year, aims to bring together members of the public and other community representatives to cooperate with the council and the police on a number of local policing and crime issues.
Councillor Paul Convery, the Executive Member for Community Safety, said: “Solving crime is complicated and it can not be solely done by the police, a council or other agencies. It is solved by the active participation of the community.”
The board includes 23 members, eight of them members from the Safer Neighbourhood Panels and four other community representatives. The community representatives were elected during the summit. The other members come from organisations in the borough like Victim Support and the Youth Council.
Gerry Campbell, Islington Police Borough Commander, said: “It is absolutely critical that the police works in partnership with the public.”
In the last 12 months, the overall crime rate in the borough was down by about 12%, which represents close to 4,000 fewer victims compared to the year before. Antisocial behaviour has also reduced by 10%, according to Gerry Campbell. Yet antisocial behaviour remains one of the most common crimes in Islington.
Phone snatching and burglary rates also remain high, with a slight increase of burglaries this year. Islington is known for phone snatches especially from motor vehicles, and theft of smartphones account for approximately a quarter of crimes in the borough.
A local resident said during the summit: “My experience would suggest to me that crime, far from going down, is actually increasing. In the last year I found that three parks close to where I live have now all got gangs on and my children can’t go there.” She added that the children were robbed of their mobile phones and money.
According to Gerry Campbell, the youth gangs and groups are located especially around Finsbury Park, Essex Road, Old Street and Canonbury.
Projects to tackle crime
Sharon Dearman, Service Delivery Manager at Victim Support for Islington, said: “The calls that we get most are probably around domestic violence.” In order to tackle domestic violence, she believes “it’s all about educating young people” so that they don’t become perpetrators or “accept the behaviour of perpetrators”.
She explained that domestic violence tends to go in circles, likely to be repeated by children who witness violence in their family. “Young boys may feel that men act like that and young girls might feel that they should take the abuse as given,” she said.
Gerry Campbell said that reducing domestic violence is on the priority list, as “what happens behind closed doors is everyone’s business.”
The other priorities in the borough are mobile phone crime, crime against businesses, reducing youth gangs and stopping drug markets.
Along with the establishment of the Neighbourhood Safety Board, Islington council has introduced a late night levy, which means that licensed businesses which sell alcohol between midnight and 6am will have to pay a fee.
It affects around 450 licensed premises in the borough and will commence in autumn 2014. It aims at reducing late night economy and alcohol-related offenses. In 2013, there were 519 of these recorded between midnight and 6am.
Councillor Paul Convery mentioned during the summit that the council “will no longer give housing aide to people who commit serious crimes or engage in persistent antisocial behaviour”.
“We are investing in CCTV, we are ensuring that our streets are well lit, our open spaces are well designed. We are ensuring that there is a visible presence,” he said.
During the summit, Joy Clarke, lead specialist midwife at Whittington hospital received the Community Safety Partnership Award for her work on raising awareness in the communities about the risks and the law concerning female genital mutilation.