When you've seen antisocial behaviour or know about access to property that makes burglarly easier have you ever thought - if only they would make that wall harder for people to sit on or gate off that alleyway?
The Reading Labour party is committed to the belief that politics works best when local people and community groups are put in the driving seat and work with the council and councillors to find solutions.
Even though it is obviously the police that takes the lead on crime and anti-social behaviour the council and councillors work with them and in particular on community safety. We often find that ideas on how to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in their area through small or sometimes larger changes to the physical layout of their neighbourhood come from local people.
This can be very effective - based on the triangle of crime that the police talk about - a crime needs a victim, a perpetrator and a place. If you take the suitable place away it's harder for the crime to happen.
That sounds a bit theoretical so I thought I'd do a post on what happens in Reading. We have a community safety capital fund that the council sets each year. Community groups, often the local NAG, or individuals and councillors can suggest improvements which are then assessed for cost-effectiveness by one of our community safety officers and other interested parties are contacted (eg land owners, neighbours etc) the proposal is brought to the Councillor for Housing and Neighbourhoods (me) and the Chief Inspector for sign off, where we question impact, a really useful process as we bring different experiences to the discussion (and we don't accept every proposal by any means) and then it happens! Some of the bids are for just a few hundred pounds others are several thousand.
For example in one ward this year we have approved two projects, which ward councillors have been pressing for: a new and more secure fencing to a park after years of continual damage, which we also managed to get a neighbouring housing association to contribute towards. This will make this popular park more secure and help to reduce anti-social behaviour bothering neighbours.
A Digipad operated gate to a community garden to make access for prostitution and other anti-social behaviour difficult. By doing this we have managed to get the property owner on a neighbouring property to secure their area as well.
So next time you are thinking about that alleyway or that place where street drinkers congregate and have an idea that would solve it get in touch either via your local NAG or contact your ward councillors - or even me and we'll see if we can find a cost-effective way of reducing the problem. If you live elsewhere and your council doesn't do this, why not suggest it to them?