The number of crimes and incidents reported in Stoke-on-Trent parks has reduced by 38% since the introduction of new initiatives led by the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Violence Reduction Alliance (VRA) in 2021, according to police data.
The VRA initiatives aim to stop violence before it begins and were implemented following an increase in reports and a survey completed with women and girls in 2021 highlighting that 67% of female respondents had experienced harassment, intimidation, or violence in a public place.
Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime and Chair of the VRA, Ben Adams said:
“Protecting people from harm is a top priority in my Police & Crime Plan, which is why I am pleased to see a reduction in the numbers of crimes and incidents reported in Stoke-on-Trent parks since the start of these initiatives.
“By taking a coordinated partnership approach to improving our open spaces, we have not only helped to increase our communities’ safety, but ensured they have access to spaces to allow them to live healthy and fulfilling lives.”
Partners of the VRA, including Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire Police’s Violence Reduction Team, have led a number of initiatives including:
- enhanced police patrols;
- visual upgrades such as, cutting back overgrown hedges to help the parks look and feel safer;
- online learning for park staff around Child Exploitation (CE) and reporting;
- additional lighting, CCTV and alley gating;
- improving the safeguarding of children through information sharing between services;
- £3.1m funding secured by the Commissioner’s Office to improve safety for women and girls, ASB and home and business security.
In addition to the initiatives led by the VRA, Stoke-on-Trent community group, Chit Chat 4 U, have fundraised for the provision of six lifesaving Bleed Control Kits and completed numerous knife sweeps across the City. The kits contain a tourniquet and other trauma dressings which are vital to help save the lives of patients who suffer major trauma with catastrophic bleeding, whether caused by an accident or assault. The Bleed Control Kits have also, recently been added to 200 Staffordshire Police cars as part of a jointly funded project with the Staffordshire Commissioner.
Last month partners completed a walk in each of the hotspot locations to identify further improvements. Staffordshire Police and Stoke-on-Trent City Council are aiming to encourage community groups and youth leaders to use the parks to help increase visibility and support for young people.
The Space summer activity programme, funded by the Staffordshire Commissioner, also identified a need for more positive activities for children and young people and will be in Stoke-on-Trent until 1 September 2023. The programme brings together public, voluntary and private sector organisations to provide fun, positive activities for vulnerable young people to help increase their skills, improve their health and wellbeing and create opportunities, while also aiming to reduce levels of anti-social behaviour.
Chief Constable Chris Noble said:
“These figures are certainly encouraging and we are pleased to see these initiatives have had a positive impact on crime rates in the area so far.
“By working with partners within the Violence Reduction Alliance and the local community, we’re determined to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, and create safe and secure neighbourhoods across Stoke-on-Trent.
“We look forward to continuing this work and seeing further improvements throughout the summer.”
Councillor David Williams, cabinet member for communities, education and safety said:
“I am pleased that by adopting a partnership approach we are starting to see that this is having a positive impact within our parks and across the wider community. However, we know there is always more to do and we are determined to work collaboratively so that people feel safe.
“By working together, we can reduce crime, prevent it happening in the first place, and support the most vulnerable people in our city who are victims of crime, or at risk of becoming a victim.”