Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Russell Holland and Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, met last week (1 February) to see how nearly £1m will be spent to make Swindon’s streets safer.
In October last year, Swindon Borough Council, supported by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Wiltshire and Swindon, announced that after a successful bid to the Government’s Safer Streets scheme, it would benefit from £550,000 of funding to increase the safety of public spaces for all, with a particular focus on tackling violence against women and girls.
This round of funding was in addition to £432,000 of Safer Streets funding, previously awarded to the OPCC with support from the Council, with a focus on tackling violent crime and acquisitive crime, such as burglary.
Since the funding was awarded last year, the two authorities have been working collaboratively to put together a plan of measures they hope to introduce across Swindon, to make the town safer for residents.
Last week, Deputy PCC Holland and Councillor Martyn were taken through the town centre by members of the Council's Community Safety Team, as well as Sgt Richard Fay from the Swindon Community Policing Team, and shown how the Safer Streets funding would be used.
The town centre is one of three areas in Swindon where the money will be spent, alongside the Railway Village and the Rodbourne area. Measures expected to be introduced in the coming months include improved street lighting and the installation of new CCTV cameras in places like the Bristol Street Tunnel.
Additionally, work has also been ongoing on the development of toolkits for professionals and workplaces; training for those working with the street community; a community support programme, and guidance for pubs and nightclubs. Training packages and mentoring schemes are also being developed for school and college students, as well as support systems for women and girls who have been impacted by sexual harassment.
It is hoped these sessions will raise awareness of the impact on victims and how support can be provided, as well as providing the opportunity to discuss the importance of reporting concerns and incidents, and the responsibility of everyone to be aware of these type of behaviours.
Deputy PCC, Russell Holland, said: "We understand and recognise the fear and concerns that women have reported about their safety when in town. We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe and this Government funding will bring tangible benefits to making Swindon town centre safer.
"What people will see is better lighting, more CCTV coverage and other physical changes to improve safety. In addition, funding is going to be used to have a preventative role by providing training in schools to promote safety. This is another great example of how partnership working can unlock funding and help reduce crime.”
Councillor Cathy Martyn, Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “Following our funding announcement last year, a lot of work is going on to begin introducing measures across the town that are proven to cut crime, and which will help residents feel safe when out and about in Swindon.
“Our walk was an excellent opportunity to review some of the planned measures for the town centre, including the installation of additional CCTV and lighting, as well as an opportunity to discuss some of the additional educational and behavioural measures taking place outside of the town centre, which could really make a difference in our community.
“I know a lot more work is planned for the coming months, and I have great confidence that the funding we have received and the measures we hope to introduce will help us to address the problem of violence against women and girls head-on and at all levels.”
The Safer Streets funding sits alongside other efforts to respond to violence against women and girls (VAWG), including the publication of the Government’s Tackling VAWG Strategy and the launch of the Home Office and National Police Chief’s Council’s StreetSafe online mapping tool, which allows all members of the public to flag areas where they feel unsafe and say why.