Belfast Telegraph

Community safety report is launched

By Michael Bashford

A report looking at community safety in Ards, five years after the area’s Community Safety Partnership was formed, has been launched.

More than 50 people from the local community, as well as representatives from organisations like the PSNI, Women’s Aid and Age Concern, attended an event last week to launch the new report which details the progress made in improving community safety across three priority areas — anti-social behaviour, violent crime and fear of crime among vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly.

Funding over the last five years has been used to support a range of initiatives, from small youth diversion schemes to large, long-term projects.

Among the notable successes have been the partnership’s contribution to securing the six camera CCTV system which now operates in Newtownards town centre and the establishment of over 40 Neighbourhood Watch schemes across the Ards borough.

The Links’ MARC (Making A Real Change) project which aims to support individuals struggling with addiction problems has also received funding, as has the ‘Good Morning’ project which provides reassurance and appropriate help via a free daily telephone service for those who live alone and at times can feel anxious and vulnerable.

Youth forums, social issues associated with bonfires, band parades, intergenerational work, domestic violence, fire education and children’s safety are also examples of issues which have been tackled since 2005.

An analysis of crime figures shows that in the period since the partnership has been in operation, reported crime in Ards has fallen by 25 percent and since 2006, anti-social behaviour has dropped by 28 percent.

The statistics are, according to Councillor David Smyth, chairman of the partnership, encouraging.

He said: “The Community Safety Partnership is one of many organisations working to improve how safe Ards is and so, while a drop in crime figures can never be attributed solely to our work, we do believe that the initiatives which have been undertaken since 2005 have had an impact. Clearly, we would like to see residents’ views on how safe they feel, but it is not an unsurprising result given extensive media coverage of crimes which do occur, particularly against older people, and a natural time lag between work being done and people’s opinions changing. This is an area of work which we need to address through our future activities.”

Copies of the report are available from Bob Wilson at Ards Borough Council on telephone 9182 4047.

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