ASB - BCP and What We Can Learn From New York's Experience

This is the original article as sent to The Echo. The areas that are in bold and underlined were omitted. Interesting as no explanation given.

 

Back in May last year I wrote to say we must get on top of Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB). Like most residents, I find it distressing to see things still sadly worsening in our area. The trend is not good and is yet another threat to a high street already struggling with store closures. The Echo reported last week the Town BID fears and on top of this I have recently had my own discussions that support the need for change.  

Tony Brown, the CEO of Beales told me that of the 20 shops in the group across the country - it is the Bournemouth store that has had the highest level of crime and ASB.

A young mum who had recently moved to Poole from Greater Manchester told me that she and friends who had done the same, felt this area was rougher and some were considering moving back.

So many people I meet tell me that now they do not wish to go to Bournemouth Town Centre shopping as they do not feel safe. Yesterday I visited five businesses on Westover Road and they all felt that they were not being heard and to quote one - they were ready to give up.

In Poole, the ASB issues are acute around the Bus Station with Yellow Buses having decided to pull out completely. In Ashley Road, Parkstone some traders I have visited inform me they have considered moving out.

Dorset has the second worst ASB in the South of England and we are 34th in the country. This must change.

The Council are part of the solution. That is why it was so disappointing this evening when BCP Council totally ignored an amendment suggested to the budget for four more CSAS officers.  CSAS officers are integral to reducing ASB in our town centres. They have three more coming for Poole and one more for Bournemouth but the problem is much larger than they perceive and more are needed. They missed an opportunity to address the single thing that affects people enjoying our town. 

 What needs to happen? - Taking the lessons from New York’s experience in the 90s when crime went down sharply:-

  1. Zero tolerance – (it wasn’t only that but clearly sweating the small stuff matters). Dorset Police needs to make cutting crime and ASB its number one priority in the next Police and Crime Plan - it's currently not even listed as one of their four priorities.
  2. Police on the streets. We need to bring back robust, visible community policing to put prevention back into our neighbourhoods. More police will help but we need to see those we already have back on the frontline. There is much to do to improve efficiency by cutting bureaucracy.
  3. BCP Council should also do much more to bear down on crime and ASB. It should have supported more CSAS, it must make homelessness a top priority, clean off graffiti quickly and keep our roads clean and well-lit. In effect make ASB a trigger for community intervention across all which it does as a strong community is a safe community.
  4. Across our  Community, residents and businesses must also take ownership by reporting issues, calling out bad behaviour and being good citizens ourselves. Businesses must be treated as an integral part of the neighbourhood and business crime seen as on a par with other crimes.
  5. We can build better future citizens through education initiatives and should start as young as we can. When primary school head teachers say children as young as eight are showing drug behaviours then we need a radical plan to intervene early and with a long lasting effect.

The police have a part to play but so does BCP Council, the businesses and ourselves.

I hope to be successful in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections on May 7th – this is just part of my plan to make Dorset the safest county in the UK.