Undertaking a Community Safety Assessment requires a high level of skills and understanding. Lions Gate includes a number of sanitized case studies here because they set the context and underpin the credentials of your consultant Mike Franklin. It is important to introduce this at an early stage to elicit confidence in report review.
Successful Assessments and exceptional working relationships developed with two high profile First Nations communities, with one leading to implementation support for recommendations. The biggest lesson learned is how successful community safety outcomes require strong resolve, sustained commitment, continual monitoring and evaluation, and maintenance to move from short term impacts to sustained impacts. Take the foot off the gas and the positive momentum will start to wane. With both of these detailed assessments it became clear that providing action planning recommendations did not necessarily translate into implementation. Further, without ongoing technical professional informed guidance, there is a tendency for clients to cherry pick those that take their fancy or align with their perceived needs. The recommendations in a CSAP have been balanced and integrated and are intended to be delivered as a whole, not just selected parts. In many cases the cutting out of certain recommendations will have a severe detrimental impact on outcomes. If trimming is required, then technical guidance will enable informed selection.
We provided community safety officers to manage security and safety at a temporary homeless encampment in a BC City. We found a highly organized municipality operating with a sustainable plan to manage issues in the short, intermediate, and longer term. A very credible transitional plan well backed by a great bylaw team ‘on message’ with required measured support, combing community engagement and bylaw enforcement with care. The plan, however, included components out of direct municipality control that are not proven to work nor are they evidenced based solutions. That hampers success. There is undeniably an industry that sustains homelessness and substance abuse and that in the final analysis is counter to protected success. We have operated in and see firsthand evidence of the failure to effectively tackle substance abuse, dealing, drug trafficking, and alcohol addiction in temporary homeless encampments. We see a clear correlation between encampment locations and elevated crime and nuisance levels in proximity. This will not come as news to many observers of TV media reports on the subject.
We have rebalanced the emphasis in problem solving and Scanning, Analysis, Response, Assessment (SARA) to redirect a dominant problem diagnosis mindset to place more emphasis on ‘best medicine’ within a solution profiling mindset. In many cases, and understandably, law enforcement views ‘solutions’ in detect, investigate, arrest, incarcerate, terms. I worked for three years with a dedicated crime pattern analyst to generate an appreciation for broader solution orientation while in law enforcement. The solution profile library developed was quite extensive including: Robbery, Knife Crime, Residential Break and Enter, Commercial Break and Enter, Vehicle Crime, Retail Crime, Industrial Crime, School Crime, Licensed Premises crime, etc. We got some excellent results where we could get adoption but had an uphill battle to get partners behind criminality reduction programs, and for law enforcement to embrace situational crime prevention or responsibility redistribution alongside their rightly preferred, detect, investigate, arrest, incarcerate agenda. Effectively and sustainably dealing with problems seems to be less of a priority to public service as they trudge from one election cycle to another. Politics and crime reduction are not good bed fellows. Key performance indicators based on arrest volumes don’t help much either. I also want to share how our research showed that media raising awareness to knife crime actually increased knife crime carrying and offences. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we flagged a knife crime problem the more fear was generated among youths and the more they carried protection. Unintended consequences here and in other studies routinely surface.
My experiences in tackling ‘street crime’ validate the COPS approach and pro-active approaches, targeting root cause, and draw from this UK and North West Europe pioneering approach. Consolidation of projects from Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, which recognize the communal crime and criminality dimension balance required in partnership working. The research into a number of major projects which were properly measured and evaluated demonstrated that the most effective approach across Europe combines physical approaches, focusing on architecture, urban planning, target hardening, etc.; social approaches focusing on victims, offenders, guardians, city management, maintenance, etc., and organizational approaches focusing on structuring the partnership process of implementing measures. This is fundamentally how CSAP operates.
The costly consequences of a social band aid mentality, late interventions, and community court revolving door recidivism. We undertook a systematic and detailed study of neighbourhood and the built environment interfaces with the street in commercial and retail districts, which suffer from street crime and other problems associated with the consequences of a drug market and street populations. This project detaches from Crime Opportunity Profiling of Streets and applies it outside the larger cohort of projects in the UK and North West Europe. It’s a great fit. We identified a whole raft of built environment features that offer opportunities to commit crime or generate fear of crime in this BC Downtown and also features that provide sites for drug taking and drug dealing and other anti-social behaviour. What was also patently clear in a review of approaches to address crime and nuisance is that criminality reduction interventions and initiatives had been introduced far too late and were just
symptomatic in nature. The Community Court in this City location could process up to 100 cases per day. I attended the court as part of a contracted piece of work and had to bypass drug users, actually using on the community court steps, as they awaited a summons to appear. For an area reportedly costing public taxpayers $365 Million per year for social programs this is a frightening indicator of almost irretrievable neighbourhood decay. Intervention at recidivism. Design mistakes continue to be made with weather protection canopies being built outside stores providing shelter for the homeless. I can still see the street population eyeing up new spots in the back of my mind.
We assembled a thoroughly researched proposal for a Business Improvement Association at their request. A proposal developed after extensive research which clearly identifies a correlation between risky facilities, and ‘built environment’ decisions taken that failed to legislate for negative crime and nuisance impacts, offender movement patterns and locations of choice, a geographical overconcentration of support services to make them accessible but attracting a concentration of those disposed to offending (build it and they will come). Unwitting decisions I will concede, but definitely community crime enablement and with massive consequences for increased victimization for business owners, tenants, residents, in an area out of their direct control. As an example, we did some assessment work for a prominent oil and gas client and in this same location. Our research uncovered that the gas station was regularly used by sex workers soliciting for business at the pumps, with their procurer, and substance supplier on site. Accessible power sockets, on the forecourt (a design flaw) allowed phones to be charged, gas station rest rooms a convenient washing facility and an offender convenient public seating area attached to the site and part of community ‘beautification’ design, inadvertently providing an excuse for loitering. We must learn that each decision may have negative consequences and adjust to ensure that on balance crime and nuisance reduction results.
How, catalyzing multiple community projects, with Government seed funding into a program, allows added value through project overlap by design (POD). Just as a sample for this bullet but in just three of 43 projects over six years I managed; in excess of $25 Million Dollars were saved in public safety expenditure, and losses reduced, and profit margins measurably increased in the private sector in treated locations. There is no room here to expand on the benefits of having control of a program of interconnected projects and an ability to ensure the direction taken with each has a complementary impact on the others. We see enterprise-wide strategies and economies of scale realized in some multi-site commercial locations. Why not in communities? The tax dollar saving is quite evident and cross border thinking and approach integration has to be feature of affordable community safety. As an example of project overlap by design Northamptonshire Police targeted and catalyzed four major projects in one mixed use town centre area. The municipality introduced a road closure program to reduce vehicle accessibility and enhance street lighting to increase surveillance. The strategic placement of new municipality monitored CCTV cameras and the addition of automatic license plate recognition capability was integrated. Funding from the same Home Office government department was also invested in an ALPR Response team for the Police. The net impact using project overlap by design techniques was a highly effective deter, detect, delay, deny and response outcome.
You need to know what you are looking for. In the space of a single day Lions Gate established over 20 factors contributing to escalating violence in the City pop 12,000 and in doing so also established that a number of zoning decisions, allowing an over concentration of risky facilities, and ill-considered social support strategies including a housing project, which were directly contributing to that increase in violence. This is a city seriously challenged with crime and nuisance levels which are arguably self- inflicted injuries resulting from very poor coordination, silo approaches over time and failure to consider implications of decisions. There is a strong correlation between this location and the Municipality City proposal in terms of community crime dynamics. In the hand of professionals that understand community crime dynamics and with the advantage of looking in from the outside without prejudice, objective answers will lie.
Quite alarming findings as we sought to guide an already stigmatized municipality by assembling a proposal for our CSAP at the request of one of its Councillors. At the heart of the problems, exceedingly high levels of drug offences, extremely high crime, and nuisance levels, and after analyzing locational maps and crime type maps, and undertaking spatial and temporal analysis we found the crime levels proximal to the drug safe consumption site in the City to be ten times that of surrounding areas. It is to the credit of the City Police that they choose to publish sufficient information for some analysis. We found business and community groups lobbying for immediate action to save their livelihoods and communities. We found a municipality council where members actually came to blows and an abject failure to put community safety ahead of personal agenda. We found a massive sum allocated to City image and sport in a public relations exercise to attract tourism rather than spent on community safety. Another city seriously challenged with crime and nuisance levels which are arguably self- inflicted injuries resulting from very poor coordination and silo approaches over time. They are also seriously hampered by an inability to advance appropriately and achieve a bipartisan direction. We found City officials in the City and in Local Law Enforcement denying there were any issues. That same City is now in a far worse condition than it was when we submitted our proposal and has moved no further forward.
Examples of joined up multi agency partnership working, with extensive community engagement, turning round crime in residential ‘sink’ estates. Three major projects with quite distinct issues as well as predictable similarities. On the Blackthorn Housing Estate crime reduced from over almost 900 recorded offences per annum to just under 300 reported offences just three years later. A two thirds reduction. The partnership project won an urban renaissance award from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in the UK. The judges noted that something palpable had happened to change the community mindset in Blackthorn. That community became proud, more confident, more trusting in authority, more territorial and started to claw back ownership. The other locations has similarly impressive results. On the Bellinge Estate which had been on the verge of riot, with Molotov cocktails being stockpiled for a confrontation with police, we worked closely with the local authority to use decorative wrought iron fencing to create spaces where a collection of residents could exercise some control. Prior to intervention, the estate had almost 100 pathways, which acted as routes of criminal
conveyance. A dedicated community officer with knowledge of all the problem families and the youths involved in nuisance and criminal behaviour was a massive plus removing offender anonymity very quickly indeed. In Semilong the major issue was kerb crawling and the 100 plus sex workers who routinely operated in the area. All community consultation included the sex workers as well as all other stakeholders. It is worth emphasizing how critical it is to include all members of the community in any consultation. With our partners we changed the traffic flow in the whole area, effecting street closures, and changing the risk to kerb crawlers as they moved into the area. Supported by local authority monitored CCTV and enhanced lighting, the layered solution has immediate impacts. The sex worker numbers reduced and interestingly those that remained said they felt safer under the eye of the cameras and less exposed to assaults.
Successful grant funding application to the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation in an application shaped and developed by Mike Franklin. Local Authority Funding in addition allowed a holistic estate wide security management plan utilizing state-of-the-art technology as well as other security controls. Before interventions, a small number of the 150 businesses were either closed or contemplating closure. A number of the big hitters were considering relocation. Coca Cola for example. After interventions, the turnaround was significant. Coherent considered solutions retaining tenants, generating massive public savings, casualty reductions moved to zero as a result of highway regulation changes and enforceable parking regulations, the negative media coverage and a growing stigma associated with the locations was removed, boosting economic returns by attracting new facility clients, with increased employment opportunities. This was no small undertaking with an Industrial complex of over 150 businesses and 12.75 hectares of land. 150 thefts of semi loads in five years reduced to zero in the first year immediately following security implementation. This was achieved because partnership cooperation led by an Estate Management Board comprised of Business Leaders, Police, Local Municipality representation, Public CCTV monitoring, enforcement resources and preventive patrols, created a front to back Deter, Detect, Delay, Deny and Response package, without half measures.
From stigmatized criminal hotspot to safer ‘feelgood’ customer choice. A rape at gunpoint, a serious assault, serious recurring shop thefts, including steaming and intimidating nuisance, vandalism, graffiti, customer harassment. Offender routes of convenience in and out everywhere, rail lines, canal towpath, classic leaky colander. This location was the most victimized parking location anywhere in Northampton (pop 200,000) and after four years became an accredited safer parking location, with incredible economic benefits for property management and big box store tenants. Interesting was the fact that tenant in store thefts reduced little. This is as clear an indicator as you can get, that communal solutions require store owners or tenants to support, by ramping up their own measures cognisant of the likely impacts of external communal security improvements.