We responded to public news headlines and local insight relating to an increase of Anti-Social Behaviour and crime in a particular area of Widnes, Halton.
Local residents where reporting increased levels of crime and increased challenges with young people congregating in the area. Impact of this, which is from local consultation and media, includes people moving away from the area , businesses falling victim to criminal damage, and a petition set up by with solutions such as the park to be closed during certain times or park infrastructure removed, as they felt that it was unsafe for local residents and families to use and was a hub for anti-social behaviour.
After meeting with Widnes Police and consulting with many partners within the sports sector to provide positive activity in the area, there was a lot of hesitation. No coaches, leaders or partners wanted to deliver activity in a park due to the challenges that existed. Challenges included missiles being thrown at police, arson, drug and alcohol use and weapons found in the local park. Without a police presence, sports activators and coaches did not want to enter the park. But after conversations with police and our youth insight, we knew that once police enter the area, young people run away.
MSP responded to Widnes Police call for action. We offered our services to use the power of sport and physical activity as a tool to reduce youth crime and anti-social behaviour and encourage local residents to use their local facilities.
After meeting with Widnes Police and consulting with many partners within the sports sector to provide positive activity in the area, there was a lot of hesitation. No coaches, leaders or partners wanted to deliver activity in a park due to the challenges that existed. Challenges included missiles being thrown at police , arson , drug and alcohol use and weapons found in the local park . Without a police presence, sports activators and coaches did not want to enter the park. But after conversations with police and based on our youth insight, we knew that once police enter the area, young people run away.
As we learned more about the environment, MSP decided to change its approach to tackle this issue head-on. MSP engaged a local voluntary youth service, called Trust R Youth, who specialise in anti-knife crime campaigning and giving young people positive opportunities.
Trust R Youth previously had no experience of delivering physical activity, however they were experts in youth services and local provision, which was essential for this project to be successful. They were also ready to work in partnership to engage young people, signpost to supporting services and provide young people with positive activities to contribute to their local community. Importantly, they were willing to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour head-on alongside MSP.
To support sports delivery in this environment, and mentor Trust R Youth in the use of sport and physical activity as part of their service, MSP engaged Merseyside Sports Foundation. Merseyside Sports Foundation were willing to be on the front line without a police presence, alongside Trust R Youth, to engage and support young people who needed positive opportunities.
MSP worked with a collaborative network involving Merseyside Sports Foundation, Trust R Youth, Police and local Councillors for the ward in which the ASB was prevalent. This allowed all interested stakeholders to work together to tackle the issue head-on. By achieving further investment via local councillors, the project was sustained and able to have a bigger impact on the local community.
Through this partnership network, reported crime and ASB significantly decreased in the area. This is evidenced here by the 6 months data before this project began, compared to the first 6 months of the project delivery.
The following are the statistics for crime and ASB, within the Birchfield Ward of Halton according to the statistics for Cheshire at www.police.uk
Feb 19 – July 19 (before the project began)
Reported crime incidences = 242
Reported ASB incidences = 88
Aug 19 – Jan 20 (during project delivery)
Reported crime incidences = 141
Reported ASB incidences = 40
Reported crimincidencese = 41.7% reduction
Reported ASB incidences = 45% reduction
We received anecdotal understanding while consulting and speaking to the local community during the project. We are currently in the process of measuring qualitative impact from local residents to understand the impact of reduced reported crime and ASB.