Safety initiative recognised at awards

An Aberdeenshire community safety initiative has been recognised for its efforts to reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder at summer events across the area.

The Summer Safer Streets initiative was the runner-up in the Partnership Working Award category of the Safer Communities Awards 2012. The ceremony was held in Glasgow Monday, February 20, as part of the 2012 National Community Safety Convention.

Safer Streets campaigns were previously supported by the Scottish Government and, when funding was withdrawn last year, the Aberdeenshire Community Safety Executive decided to continue delivery of the initiative locally.

Having traditionally focused on the winter period, the group decided to pilot Summer Safer Streets to target alcohol-related violence and antisocial behaviour at organised annual games and other events.

As well as reducing crime and disorder, the project aimed to increase the detection rate of crime and disorder.

The initiative ran during the summer of 2011, with two police officers, two licensing standards officers and two staff from charity Turning Point Scotland attending each event in an agreed programme of activities.

Grampian Police staff carried out patrols and engaged with attendees, while Aberdeenshire Council’s licensing standards officers worked directly with licensees. The Turning Point Scotland staff provided advice to people on alcohol consumption and promoted a healthier approach to drinking.

Over the course of the 12 weeks of the campaign there were no serious assaults at the events, and crime was at a three year low. In addition, detection rates for offences were at the highest levels in three years.

Aberdeenshire Community Planning Partnership chair Cllr Anne Robertson said: “This is a great example of how sharing expertise and resources can make a real difference in our communities.

“I am very encouraged by the success of the first year of Safer Summer Streets and that it has highlighted work that can be done on an ongoing basis to further reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder.”

Aberdeenshire Community Safety Executive chairman Willie Munro said:

“This initiative has shown how the carefully-targeted collective efforts of partner organisations can have a direct impact on alcohol-related crime and disorder, and we feel that partnership working has been strengthened as a whole by this exercise.

“We were delighted to see such positive results from the pilot scheme, and this bodes well for the future and for the quality of life in our communities.”

The Safer Summer Streets initiative is to be repeated this year, in addition to the ongoing winter events.

As well as the reduction in crime, the exercise highlighted some related areas for further investigation.

Having identified a lack of access to drinking water for those under the age of 18 at events, consideration is being given to making such provision a condition of event licences in the future.

There is also a possibility that future events will form part of the local Pubwatch scheme, which allow for information-sharing on individuals who may not be eligible to attend certain events.