New community safety team has impact

Published Thursday, 8th November 2018

Community Safety Team in High St

A new team of community safety officers has had an immediate and positive impact in the central Southend area.

The team of six community safety officers are now patrolling the streets of the town, helping to tackle intimidating and anti-social behaviour and making the town safer.

The community safety team was discussed as part of an update on the High Street summit and action plan given to the council's cabinet on Tuesday 6 November. This can be viewed on the Democracy website. 

Cllr James Courtenay, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “The community safety team were a direct result of the High Street summit meeting held at the end of September and it is a great example of how getting key decision makers together and agreeing actions, can produce results.

“It is clear that the uniformed and visible presence is welcomed by shoppers and businesses alike. I am particularly pleased to hear that the new officers have been supporting the hard work our housing and outreach teams already do and have played a part in helping two rough sleepers into supported temporary accommodation.”

Whilst the team has initially focused on the central Southend area, they are a borough wide team and there have also been some concentrated effort in other areas.

Cllr Courtenay, added: “This is not just about high visibility and presence. It is about ensuring those who want and need help and support, are given it.”

The interim community safety team started on 15 October, three weeks after the High Street Summit.

In the first three weeks (16 October to 5 November), the team helped with:

  •        128 instances of anti-social behaviour
  •        74 instances of individuals begging
  •        46 instances of people drinking alcohol and requesting them to stop
  •        18 crimes, assisting the police
  •        22 first aid incidents
  •        Four missing people incidents
  •        Reporting 11 health and safety issues to the council.

In addition, in the first week the team helped:

  • Support two long-term rough sleepers into accommodation – the community safety team assisted with this process, helping to engage with the rough sleepers and checking on them the next day to see how they were settling in
  • Engage with other rough sleepers, some of whom are accepting outreach support which in turn is helping to reduce rough sleeping on the High Street

The team have helped identify hot spots for anti-social behaviour and now routinely patrol them, as well increasing their visibility during Halloween and bonfire night for additional reassurance.

Positive feedback about how the new team are already making a difference has also been received from the public and businesses, with more than 44 comments praising their visibility, the reassurance they are providing and effective partnership they are making with police officers and BID Rangers.

Comments made to the council and on social media include:

“I would like to say a massive thank you to one of your community safety officers. My mother-in law had a fall in the High Street and he looked after her until I could get to her. Even when I did arrive at the scene of where she had the accident he still did not leave and walked with myself and her to the car. Thanks so much for your kind help.”

“The new patrol has made customers feel so much safer. They are so well mannered and polite. They have really helped the High Street and I wanted to call in to commend them.”

“Popped into the High Street and it seemed calmer down there with the presence of the new team.”

“Very good to see across central Southend providing reassurance to shoppers.”

Dennis Baldry, Chair of Southend BID, said: “We have already seen some huge improvements and universal praise for the efforts being made and the results achieved so far.

“Aggressive begging during normal business hours has massively reduced and, on some days has been non-existent. The partnership approach has also seen some fantastic results, with several entrenched members of our street community now in accommodation and engaging with local services. It is a great start and I think will give the new partnership extra focus on the task of delivering a safe and inviting environment for all to enjoy.''

The council’s cabinet also discussed the draft homelessness and rough sleeping strategy and a recommendation to hold a consultation about introducing a public spaces protection order in central Southend was approved.