Safer Westminster How weâ€™re keeping our cityâ€™s streets safe
Westminster City Council Westminster City Hall 64 Victoria Street London SW1E 6QP
020 7641 6000 westminster.gov.uk
Foreword As a resident I understand how important it is to feel safe in your neighbourhood. Westminster is a wonderful place to live and has so much to offer but like every other big city; we have our fair share of crime and antisocial behavior. In our five year plan Better City, Better Lives, launched earlier this year, we announced a number of initiatives that would help us to reduce crime and work in partnership with local police.
Contents Useful Numbers............................................................03 Don’t be conned this Christmas..............................04 Tackling begging and rough sleeping in Westminster............................................06 Addressing anti-social behaviour.........................08 How to report crimes and problems in your area................................................09 Support for victims of domestic violence..........10 Reducing reoffending.................................................12 Community Payback...................................................13 Helping young people make the right choice....14 Tips to help you enjoy the city safely..................15
Safer Westminster booklet 2013
One example is our Starting Over programme aimed at reducing reoffending among those people who have served less than a year in prison; the most common reoffenders. A top priority for us is tackling the problem of gangs and youth violence in the city. Through our Your Choice gang programme, we have been working hard to help young people exit gangs and make the right choices for their future. This year we have seen a real breakthrough and a significant reduction – nearly 60% – in serious youth violence. On the back of this success we have secured funding so we can continue our work for the next four years.
One issue which we know is a major concern for our residents is the continued problems with aggressive begging, particularly in the centre of the city and around the West End. We are working hard with the Metropolitan Police to address this and we have carried out several joint operations to remove these beggars from the streets. Whilst we have seen some success we are continuing to look for ways to stop this kind of anti-social behaviour for good. Since last year we have achieved a great deal, and we know we are on the right track. Our recent City Survey has shown that 94% of residents â€“ the highest number since 2005 - say that they feel safe in the area they live. But there is still more to do and we we will continue to work hard to drive down crime so we can ensure everyone feels who lives in Westminster feels safe. I hope you all have a Happy Christmas.
Councillor Nickie Aiken Cabinet Member for Community Protection, Premises Management and Parking
Useful numbers Safer Neighbourhoods You can find your local police Safer Neighbourhoods team at: met.police.uk/saferneighbourhoods Police In an emergency, always dial 999. For non-emergency calls, or if you would like to speak to your local police, call 101. 34501_Met_101_Magnet-Sticker.indd 1
Other useful numbers Environmental Action Line: 020 7641 2000 Neighbourhood Watch: 020 7641 2117 Victim Support: 020 7828 4142 Crimestoppers: 0800 555 111 Council switchboard: 020 7641 6000 westminster.gov.uk Safer Westminster booklet 2013
Don’t be conned this Christmas Our Trading Standards team has recently received several reports of bogus traders operating in Westminster posing as people such as tree surgeons, loft insulators, fire alarm suppliers and roofers. The rogue traders attempt to persuade people to have unnecessary work done, overcharge them or increase the price during the job and provide a poor standard of work. They rarely provide paperwork setting out cancellation rights as required by law, or any genuine details making it very difficult to establish who they actually are. We recently received a complaint from a local resident worried about her elderly mother who had been conned by a rogue roofer. Her mother had been cold called at the door by a seemingly friendly builder who offered to clear her gutters for £20. After doing the work the man said her roof was in a poor state and offered to repair this for £5,000 cash. He did not offer any written quote, explain her cancellation rights or provide any receipts for the payment. She was taken to her bank by the builder to ensure she withdrew the money. The builder never finished the work, which was done to a very poor standard. When the resident tried to complain the builder became aggressive. In some instances these callers may intend to burgle your home, with the con men posing as the London Fire Brigade, council staff or even the police - all with plausible stories to get access to your home and money. 04
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If you have concerns about someone knocking on your door or a neighbour’s, contact Trading Standards on 020 7641 1111. In an emergency call the police on 999.
What you should do if you receive a cold caller: • Always ask to see a caller’s identification if they claim to be from a utility company, the council, the police, the fire brigade and check it independently by calling their switchboard number. • Don’t agree to anything immediately. Give yourself time to shop around for another quote. • Never let them into your house unless you are satisfied you know who they are. We are currently talking to banks in Westminster to be aware of sudden or suspicious cash withdrawals by vulnerable customers. We are also delivering leaflets to residents in areas we know there is a problem to help raise awareness of the issue. You can help by warning your family, friends and neighbours and showing them this booklet.
Free handyperson service We offer a free handyperson service for residents over 60 or in receipt of a disability allowance to carry out minor repairs. For more information call 020 7641 8959. Safer Westminster booklet 2013
Tackling begging and rough sleeping in Westminster In recent months we have experienced continued problems with rough sleepers and beggars in Westminster. We have outreach teams across the city twenty four hours a day, to provide help and support for people sleeping on the streets. They can refer people into temporary accommodation and assist with funding a home outside or within Westminster. We work in partnership with hostels and homeless charities to make sure that everyone we speak to has the option to sleep somewhere warm and safe if they choose. However, whilst some begging is passive, other begging can be aggressive and intimidating. Begging is illegal in this country and we work closely with the police to remove aggressive and intimidating beggars from the streets.
Safer Westminster booklet 2013
Why do people beg? People who beg generally fall into two categories.
1. Those who see it as a form of working These people see begging as a form of income or a way to supplement their benefits. Often coming from outside the capital or even Britain, some have made very large sums of money by targeting the streets of London. Many are not real rough-sleepers and have accommodation elsewhere.
2. Those who use it to fund drug or alcohol addiction These people beg for cash to fund a drug habit, usually an addiction to very hard drugs such as Crack Cocaine or Heroin. Others are severe alcoholics.
Where do they go?
What can you do to help?
You will usually notice people begging in busy areas with a high footfall such as: train stations, underground trains and tourist hotspots. Some individuals will even move throughout the day from commuter areas, to retail areas and to business night-time areas in order to maximise their income.
Donâ€™t give money to beggars. Sometimes itâ€™s better to say no, but do give to rough sleeping charities where you know your money will be well spent. Beggars who are drug users or alcoholics are more likely to remain in the cycle of addiction because the money they receive allows them to fund their habit. By giving money to people who beg you are making it possible for more people to make a living this way.
Rough sleeping helpline: 020 7641 3841 If you see a person sleeping on the streets call our hotline number so that an outreach worker can find them and offer assistance. The number is available 24 hours a day. For more information about the charities we work with, visit our website: westminster.gov.uk/roughsleeping Safer Westminster booklet 2013
Addressing antisocial behaviour Occasionally communities are blighted by the behaviour of certain individuals or groups of people. The council works with affected residents to bring these problems to an end. Kathy Riley is a caseworker at the council and her job is to investigate reports of anti-social behaviour and ensure residents feel safe in their communities.
A day in the life of Kathy Riley, Antisocial Behaviour Caseworker
“I start work at 8am. Today I am attending Hammersmith Youth Court to put forward an application for an anti-social behaviour order against a young person. It is the start of a long process as we have to hear the case against the young person first, then after an outcome has been reached, the application can be heard. “I leave court at 1.15pm and head back to Westminster. I’m due to meet police at Luxborough Tower to carry out a leaflet drop and talk to people about how they can report anti-social behaviour. “After lunch I attend a professionals meeting where we discuss a possible vulnerable person whose home is being used as a hang out to take drugs and drink alcohol. We received information from the police that this person may be dealing drugs from the property. There isn’t any evidence yet to suggest that this person is vulnerable but we’ll carry out further checks. “At around 3.30pm I get back to the office where I learn there have been reports of antisocial behaviour from residents about a young person in Westbourne and lives in council housing. I talk to the housing team and we agree to send a letter informing him about the complaints and what the consequences will be if his behaviour continues.”
Kathy Riley 08
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For more information about anti-social behaviour, visit westminster.gov.uk/ antisocialbehaviour
How to report crimes and problems in your area The police and council can only resolve the problems that they know about. If there’s something in your community that’s not right, please let us know. Information from local people is vital as you know what happens on a daily basis in your neighbourhood, and who or what shouldn’t be there. Don’t assume someone else will have already reported it – the chances are they haven’t. Our Wardens work across local communities resolving environmental issues including noise, nuisance, litter, dog mess, abandoned cars or graffiti. Recently residents in the Hyde Park area reported an ongoing problem that emerged after the closure of the Royal Mail office. The area surrounding the former office became used by homeless people and was constantly littered by passers-by. There were also problems with people using the area to urinate. The council worked with partners Veolia, London Underground, Network Rail, Royal Mail and theatre company Punchdrunk to resolve the issue. The council arranged for the area to be thoroughly cleansed and damaged railings to be covered up. The new occupants Network Rail also agreed to put in place a regular cleaning schedule to manage the problem and deter people from congregating there.
If there is a problem in your area that you would like to report call the council on 020 7641 2000 or speak to your local warden.
Reporting a crime: • If a crime is currently taking place or the criminal has only recently fled the scene, please dial 999. • To report a crime which is not currently happening or to pass on information relating to anti-social behaviour, call the police on 101. • If you wish to report a crime anonymously call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
After Safer Westminster booklet 2013
Support for victims of domestic violence If you are experiencing domestic abuse, or you know someone who is, there is help available. The Butterfly Project is a free confidential community based support group for women who have experienced or are currently experiencing domestic abuse. It offers emotional and practical support and aims to provide women with a safe space to help each other and find time for themselves. The group is directed by the women who attend and previous activities have included meditation and relaxation, confidence workshops and art therapy. As this is a drop-in support group you can attend as many meetings as you want as often as you like. There is also limited childcare available at all of our group meetings.
Help improve the services available The Phoenix Group is for people who have experienced domestic abuse and accessed services in Westminster for support. The group wants to hear from survivors to help shape and challenge the support available for those currently experiencing domestic abuse. If you would like to find out more, please email domesticviolence@ westminster.gov.uk All correspondence will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
• Call Helen Sweeney on 07896 352 781 or Cristina Gillio on 07964 121 967 • You will be asked for your name and contact details. This is so we can let you know about future meetings, training opportunities and activities. • You will receive an invite to attend the meetings. Men can also be the victim of domestic violence. For help contact the Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 10
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Useful numbers National 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 If you are in immediate danger, dial 999 Victim Support Westminster 020 7828 4142 Police Community Safety Unit 020 7321 9382 / 020 7321 9318 Forced marriage unit (Government assistance for people abroad and in the UK) 020 7008 0151 Forced marriage and honour violence helpline (counselling, support and advice) 0800 5999 247 Childline 0800 11 11 Broken Rainbow (helpline for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people) 08452 60 44 60 Rape Crisis Centre 020 7619 1369 westminster.gov.uk/domesticviolence
Domestic abuse surgeries If you are experiencing any form of abuse, or have questions about abuse talk to us Westminster Domestic Abuse Surgery Every Thursday 9am-12 midday Bayswater Childrenâ€™s Centre Free crĂ¨che available Or call 0808 2000 247 for the National Domestic Violence Helpline (999 in an emergency) Safer Westminster booklet 2013
What the service offers:
In October, the council launched a new service offering support to people who have served a prison sentence for less than 12 months. Previously reoffending services only supported people who served a prison sentence for longer than one year. The new service will help prisoners with a shorter sentence to settle back into their communities and reduce their chances of reoffending in the future. The new service ‘Starting Over’ was launched on the back of evidence from the Ministry of Justice that shows that around 50% of those who serve shorter sentences are more likely to reoffend. On leaving prison, many people find that they have lost their job or benefits, their home and that their families have been under a great deal of strain. Previously there was little support available to help them find work and settle back into normal life and as a result, many will resort to reoffending in an attempt to make ends meet. The new service is being funded jointly by Westminster City Council, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham councils and Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC).
It aims to reduce reoffending among this group of people by 10%. 12
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• Support whilst in prison
developing an action plan to meet the individual needs of offenders, meeting offenders at the gate when released from prison and providing intensive supervision and support during the critical two weeks upon release, when offenders are most vulnerable to reoffending.
• Mentoring • Help finding work • Training and skills development • Help finding accommodation • Support with drug and alcohol abuse. For more information please visit westminster.gov.uk/ reducingreoffending
The service will also save taxpayers over £1million and up to £6 million in five years.
Community Payback Community Payback is when offenders provide a service to communities as a way of making amends for their crimes. Offenders can take on a range of tasks including clearing gardens, painting communal areas and undertaking other odd jobs to benefit the local community. If you have an idea for a project in your area, contact the Community Payback team on 020 7593 3120.
You can have a say in what type of work is carried out in your area by nominating a Community Payback project. This year the Community Payback scheme has been working at Church Street, Lisson Green, Amberley, Warwick and Churchill Gardens Estates. They have also taken part in projects at St Augustineâ€™s Church in Maida Vale. In August 2013 the Community Payback team worked with local residents and staff from the council and CityWest Homes to clear up a communal area on Fisherton Estate.
Local residents on Fisherton Estate Safer Westminster booklet 2013
Helping young people make the right choice In Westminster, youth violence has reduced by nearly 60% but we know it remains a real concern for residents and neighbourhoods. Continuing to tackle this issue is a top priority for the council, which is why we have worked hard to secure funding for our Your Choice gang programme for the next four years. Over the last year we have been working with around 40 young people to help them end their association with gangs. We have rolled out an early intervention programme, Growing Against Gangs, to all of our schools in the city. And we have established a special unit – the Integrated Gangs Unit – which brings together the Metropolitan Police and council officers to pool resources, share information and develop a joint approach to tackle the issues. The aim of the Your Choice programme is to help young people make a real choice – to take the support on offer and become upstanding members of our community, or to face serious consequences.
After the first year we have seen: A reduction of 59% in serious youth violence across the city with a 54% reduction in the north and south of Westminster and a 72% reduction in central Westminster Through our engagement work we have helped to reduce violent offences against other individuals by a third
The programme identifies gang members and uses shared intelligence from the Metropolitan Police, the council, the Probation Service and the voluntary sector to stop young people from becoming involved in gangs in the first place and helps those already in gangs to leave. If you want to talk to someone about gangs, whether you are in a gang or worried about someone who is you can phone 020 7641 3977 or e-mail us at: email@example.com 14
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Tips to help you enjoy the city safely Christmas in the West End is a busy and exciting time of year. Thousands of visitors come to the city to enjoy a night out, take in a show, do their Christmas shopping or visit a gallery or museum. If you’re planning an evening out, or a shopping trip to the West End, follow our tips to ensure you enjoy it: • Don’t leave your mobile phone or wallet on tables where they can be easily seen • Don’t hang bags or rucksacks on the back of your chair – many bars and restaurants provide hooks on tables, use them wherever possible. • Always shield your PIN when using an ATM machine and never keep your PIN with your card • Keep your cards and your wallet separate. In case you lose your wallet, you will still have access to your bank account.
Get home safely If you are planning an evening out in the West End, why not take a moment to plan your journey home. Go to our website to plan your route in advance and set text reminders for your journey home. You can also enter our competition to win a range of great prizes and fun nights out in London. At the start of the night remember: • Keep money on you in case you miss your train and need to get a cab home • Top up your oyster card before you go out, in case you misplace your wallet • Store safe cab numbers in your phone and never get in an unmarked or unbooked minicab. Text CAB to 60835 to recieve the number of three local, licensed minicab firms sent to your phone. The Metropolitan Police are also setting up departure points at busy areas in the West End. You can visit these points if you need assistance or information about getting home. To find out more visit gethomesafelondon.com Safer Westminster booklet 2013
London Bridge Brixton
www.gethomesafelondon.co.uk How will your night end? Plan your route home before a night out Set text reminders for your journey home Play the game to win a night out in the West End
Published on Nov 14, 2013