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Community Safety, Cooperative Council

Troubled communities supported by innovative co-op council pilot

A neighbourhood blighted by anti-social behaviour and criminal activity has been given a welcome boost thanks to the support of a co-operative council pilot.

Vital intelligence provided by a ‘virtual ward panel’, in which residents responded to an online community safety survey, has supported the creation of a dispersal zone in the Coldharbour ward from Tuesday, September 20. The six-month dispersal zone will provide police with additional powers to tackle anti-social behaviour and low level crime. The virtual ward panel was piloted in Coldharbour Ward by the council in partnership with Lambeth Police.

In keeping with the council’s co-operative model which encourages citizens to shape and deliver council services, the pilot has helped gather information from neighbourhoods which the council and police may not have received otherwise. The Safer Lambeth Partnership, made up of the council, police, local businesses, and other partner organisations, were able to develop the dispersal zone, using some of the information gathered from the electronic survey.

Cllr Rachel Heywood, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “The co-op council model brings new and innovative ways of working with our local communities and I delighted to see how Lambeth’s citizens are empowered in shaping community services. On the basis of what we have heard from residents we have taken action against a select few who choose to behave anti-socially and delivered a dispersal zone which is tailored to where these problems exist.”

She added: “People should be able to walk down the street and use their local shops  without being intimidated or harassed and we simply will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.” The main issues within the Coldharbour Ward are that many roads which fall within the area serve as meeting points for teenagers who intimidate residents and commit low level crime.

There have been particular concerns in Styles Gardens and Major Close involving loitering, mini-mopeds, and threats to residents. Residents have said they are reluctant to allow their children to play outside their homes because they feel “uncomfortable” and “afraid” of the size of the groups and their behaviour.

The North East section of the ward which includes Loughborough Road was also identified as suffering from youths stealing from local shops. Stolen goods in connection with the recent public disturbances and looting have been discovered by police who carried out arrest warrants at addresses within the area. In addition to concerns expressed from communities toward the North East of the Coldharbour Ward, a number of further community safety concerns were identified by the Safer Lambeth Partnership toward the South East area and in particular roads in and around the Moorlands Estate. These included complaints involving noise issues, dangerous dogs in the nearby park, and young people throwing objects at residents. In many cases residents told the virtual panel they felt too intimidated and vulnerable to talk to the council and police.

Within the designated areas the Police and PCSOs have the power to:

  • Disperse groups (of two or more people) where the relevant officer has reasonable grounds for believing their presence or behaviour has resulted, or is likely to result, in a member of the public being harassed, intimidated or distressed. Individuals can be directed to leave the locality and may be excluded for up to 24 hours.
  • Return home a young person under the age of 16 years after 9pm.
  • A refusal to follow the officer’s directions is a summary offence. The penalty onconviction for this offence is a fine or a fine or a maximum of three months imprisonment for adults.

To report incidents of anti-social behaviour contact the anti-social behaviour reporting line on 020 7926 4000. For more information on the Safer Lambeth Partnership visit http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/SaferLambeth/

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