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Tackling Fear of Crime In Your Community

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Sep 2014 | comments*Discuss
Community Neighbourhood Local Friends

The police and the government might claim that crime figures keep falling, but there’s no doubt from polls that fear of crime in communities and neighbourhoods is a major issue everywhere in the UK.

Nowhere is that more true than in inner city areas, where neighbourhoods have been wracked by gang violence and a huge upsurge in teenage stabbings over perceived threats and so-called turf wars.

How Can People Feel Safe In Communities?

In some neighbourhoods, those that tend to have little crime, safety is a perceived commodity. If there are few break-ins and little vandalism, then people will feel safe, although in reality they could possibly be victims of crime as much as anyone anywhere else. But if the local neighbourhood streets are safe to walk at night for teens and adults, people will tend to dismiss any threat – until it happens, of course.

The real problem lies in cities, where groups of teen friends tend to hang out in public places like neighbourhood parks or community play areas, for want of anything else to do. Some will still be in school, some working, others unemployed, but they’ll tend to have little money. It’s hard for anyone to feel safe in area like that. The teens might be harmless, but people will perceive them as a threat. In urban areas, teens form and join gangs for protection from other teens, and fights – and more – inevitably happen.

Is It Possible To Ease The Fear Of Crime In Communities?

The communities that fear crime most are the neighbourhoods where it’s at its worst. Making the streets of the neighbourhood safer isn’t an easy job – and making people feel safer in the community is even harder.

The Steps To Take To Ease The Fear Of Crime In a Neighbourhood

The police can’t be everywhere in every community; that’s just a fact of life. But communities can set up Neighbourhood Watch programmes, with the different watches networking to cover the whole area. Of course, that’s not feasible 24/7, but volunteers could be keeping their eyes open in the evening and into the night, when most crime happens.

But a Neighbourhood Watch can only be prong in a bigger strategy. It’s important that community leaders undertake networking with the police, and do what they can to monitor hot spots of possible trouble – areas by shops, for instance, or playgrounds and parks.

It’s important, too, that young people and their friends are brought into the fold. Local kids have to do something. Making programmes available at the local Community Centre is a start, although they need to be well-monitored, preferably with a police presence, to avoid possible conflicts, especially with teens from other areas. The more you can give them to do, the more they can be off the streets, which can make people feel more comfortable and safer in the community.

It’s also important to watch out for the vulnerable in the community, such as the elderly, who are statistically more likely to be crime victims, and who are the most afraid. That can mean keeping an eye on them, helping with shopping and other tasks, and regular visits as friends.

Even small things help, such as marking the kinds of household appliances liable to be stolen and sold, such as DVD players and TVs, making them much harder to dispose of (and putting stickers on the windows to make sure potential thieves know).

Nothing will turn the clock back, and crime has always been a feature of the British landscape, although people would undoubtedly feel safer with more constables on the beat. But it is possible for a community to take action and become – and feel – safer.

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