The Safer Streets Fund is a Government initiative designed to reduce acquisitive crime across England and Wales by providing Police and Crime Commissioners with funding to implement situational crime prevention measures.
During 2020 and 2021, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner worked with partners from across Southampton to deliver proven interventions to prevent serious acquisitive crime in the area of Bargate Ward in Southampton, funded by a £550,000 grant from the Safer Streets Fund. The project was completed by 31 March 2021.
We focused on helping communities develop into thriving neighbourhoods that reflect Southampton as a vibrant and diverse city. As part of this project, we asked for your views on how safe you feel in your neighbourhoods and the local areas by completing a survey.
The unused and derelict buildings in the park obstruct clear lines of sight and natural surveillance of the area, and attract acquisitive crime, serious sexual offences, and substance misuse crime.
- Refurbishment of the SOCO building (right) – fixing the roof, maintaining the woodwork, painting
- Demolition of the unused toilet block (left)
- Extended lighting and CCTV coverage
The main ambition is to bring people back into this area by making it a welcome place to be, giving it back to residents, and thereby making it a challenging environment for criminal activity. Other projects run by SCC in the park include the skate park and a new MUGA (Multi-use games area), which will help bring back grassroots cricket and encourage people to play other sports too. Eventually, the aim is for the building that is being demolished to be returned as a new functional facility where people can store their equipment, get changed, have a cup of tea, and use it for other community activities.
The area at the back of Vincents Walk, where businesses take their deliveries, is unnecessarily open to the public, attracting acquisitive and substance misuse crime due to its secluded location.
Solution: Installation of automated gates to reserve the area just for the businesses, and additional CCTV outside students’ hall of residence to increase safety for residents.
Kingsland Estate – Broad Green
Trees and bushes in the centre of the area have led to a number of anti-social behaviour and drug dealing incidents.
Solution: Vegetation management – enhanced management of tree crowns and ground vegetation to ensure clear lines of sight.
Kingsland Estate – Palmerston Road
Close proximity to Houndwell Park leads to the area being used as an escape route from the city centre into the residential area.
Solution: Extend existing fencing along the wall to cut off this escape route, increasing feelings of safety for residents.
The subway is being used as an escape route from the city centre into residential areas, and bright lighting in the subway is causing issues with blinding.
Solution: Installation of staggered gates to slow people down, and balancing out the lighting to ensure anyone passing through has clear lines of sight ahead into the area beyond the subway.
Back of St Mary’s Street (Craven Street, Winton Street)
This is a private area that is publicly accessible and is being used as an escape route from the city centre into residential areas.
Solution: Installation of fences to discourage public use, improve feelings of safety for residents, discourage anti-social behaviour and substance misuse.
Clifford Street/Golden Grove/James Street
This is a well-known escape route, but there is no CCTV coverage.
Solution: Installation of three additional CCTV cameras.
How the community got involved
During the course of the project, we have heard from all sections of the really diverse community in Bargate Ward – from students, from residents that have been here all their life and their parents before them, from people who have just recently moved into the area but aim to stay, and people who are travelling into the area for work.
With the help of local ward councillors, Go! Southampton BID, local police officers and community leaders we reached out to residents, businesses and organisations in the area.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the methods of engagement used in this project had to be adapted. By using innovative methods of engagement it ensured that discussions with communities allowed for maximum participation and were accessible to as many as possible. All methods complied with the current Covid-19 guidelines and restrictions at the time, with adherence to social distancing requirements while still focusing on engagement and research in a safe and meaningful way.
Methods of engagement included:
- Letter to every household in the area
- Online surveys
- In-depth focus groups
- Targeted social media engagement
Residents survey results
An online survey was undertaken that was targeted at those in the Bargate ward in Southampton, around community sentiment and feelings of safety. It provided an insight into the thoughts and views of residents and key stakeholders on issues such as crime prevention, and the associated changes to their community. The survey ran from 2nd November 2020 to 8th January 2021 (9 weeks).
Would having effective street lighting make you feel safer when walking around the local area when it is darker?
- 81% of respondents answered yes.
Would having effective CCTV make you feel safer when walking around the local area?
- 75% of people responded yes.
What crime prevention measures/methods do you personally undertake?
- Walking in well-lit areas – 75%
- Keep windows and doors locked – 71%
- Avoid being alone after dark – 64%
- Avoid crime hot-spot areas – 60%
- Hide any valuables from sight – 57%
Do you think the regular maintenance and upkeep of parks helps to support deterring crime in the area?
- 64% answered yes.
How important are community venues to you?
- 52% answered very important or fairly important.
Would you be more likely to use improved community facilities?
- 50% answered very likely or likely.
How do you think the building in Hoglands Park can be best used by the local community? This was an open question, with responses including:
- Bookable community space
- Café or coffee shop
- Youth centre
- Sports facilities
- Art gallery
Do you have any other ideas or suggestions for initiatives involving local residents and communities that could help make your area safer? This was an open question, with responses such as:
- Greater police presence
- Engagement and activities for young people
- Awareness of what is available in the local area and supporting community groups
- Grassroots campaigns that provide skills and training to be community-led
- Regular social or physical activities to promote community cohesion