By Oonagh Brown
Edinburgh City Council has joined forces with the Lothian & Borders Police to tackle antisocial behaviour.
Together they have launched The Antisocial Behaviour Strategy 2010-2013, aiming decrease the capital’s rates of vandalism and potential crime.
The strategy plans to tackle the “root causes” of problems before they begin to affect the community. This includes dealing with aspects of antisocial behaviour such as noise and vandalism.
The new strategy builds on some of the council’s recent successes. Police figures show that there was a 14% drop in vandalism in 2009-2010, and a 27% decrease in anti social behaviour complaints.
A 2009 annual neighbourhood survey also found that 75% of the public were satisfied with how the council dealt with antisocial behaviour.
Community safety leader Councillor Paul Edie said: “We want to be smarter in how we tackle antisocial behavior by addressing the causes and not just the symptoms.”
Counciller Edie also added that it was important for the public to take an active role in their community. He said: “It’s important the public don’t ignore issues affecting their community like nuisance neighbors, litter, fly-tipping, noise and graffiti, all of which can really impact on the quality of their lives and weaken communities.”
The new strategy has also placed particular importance on how young people can be encouraged to engage with the police and report violent or antisocial behaviour.
Superintendent John Hawkins wants the police to work with young people in the community to deter antisocial behaviour.
He said: “We don’t want to demonise young people because they themselves are likely to be victims of crime but they also contribute to a large number of antisocial instances. Therefore we would like to work with young people and allow them to report instances of antisocial behaviour anonymously.”
The Citadel Youth Centre’s project manager Willy Barr claimed that encouraging young people to work with the police would be a long process.
He said: “Young people need to be engaged with this issue and given an understanding of what antisocial behaviour really is.
“The best way to encourage young people not to participate in antisocial behaviour is to provide them with a service like the Citadel Centre where they have an emotionally and physically safe space.”
Barr also felt that antisocial behaviour could be further decreased if police were more available to the public. He said: “Our youth centre often holds programmes between the police and young people who attend the centre, but police officers often have to drop out because of their workload and internal pressures.”
The Lothian & Borders Police aim to counter this problem through The Safer Neighborhood Teams. This initiative has seen police officers becoming more accountable to the community and local organizations. Superintendent Hawkins said the programme would help the police address issues which were of a high priority to the community.
He added that emergency services and local authorities were now working together to protect the community.
He said: “From a preventative perspective, the partnership between emergency services, local authorities and housing associations allows for monthly coordinating meetings where the services which attend can come up with plans and activities which will address the problems of antisocial behavior.”