A major £1.1 million project targeting drug dealing, antisocial behaviour and attacks on women has been drawn up for two crime hotspots in south Bristol.
The Bristol City Council-led scheme could see better CCTV surveillance and improved lighting along with a greater spend on youth work, support groups and community-led initiatives.
The planned project has emerged in a £750k funding bid to the Government under a Safer Streets Fund. The council will also put in around £350k.
It would focus on an area in Hartcliffe which includes Morrisons at St Peterson Avenue and the three council-owned tower blocks in Silcox Road - Millmead House, Hayley House, Middleford House.
The money would also be spent on an area in Bedminster east which includes East Street, Dame Emily Park and Asda.
The city council was unable to put anyone up for interview, but its funding application reveals a growing problem of antisocial behaviour in the locations, and it says the work could cut the number of offences by 30%.
In its bid, the council said: “There was a consensus amongst partners that antisocial behaviour in South Bristol is escalating rapidly but it is also underreported, therefore, the statistics are not a true reflection of the problem.”
Asked about the project, Mayor Marvin Rees told BristolWorld: “We’ll always do our best to keep people as safe as possible - but being a local government leader doesn’t mean I can just pull a lever and get an outcome.
“What I can assure you is we’re doing our best and that’s why we bid for this money, we’ve done lots of other things on street safety as well.“
Where will the money go?
The first area is the three council-owned tower blocks in Silcox Road - Millmead House, Hayley House and Middleford House, along with the surrounding area which includes the Morrisons precinct.
Both Millmead House and Hayley House have high volumes of antisocial behaviour driven by drug dealing, says the council which found defecation and urination along with evidence of drug use in the internal stairwells.
Across the three blocks, 192 police incidents were recorded last year.
The second area is east Bedminster, in particular East Street, Dame Emily Park, Lucky Lane, Catherine Mead Street, including the Asda supermarket, which the council says accounts for most calls to the police in the area.
What do the crime figures say?
In Peterson Avenue area, which includes Morrisons and other shops such as Greggs, there were 123 incidents police were called to over the past six months, with more than a third classified as antisocial behaviour. The number of incidents spiked in January.
At Millmead House, Hayley House and Middleford House in Silcox Road, police were called to 103 incidents over the past six months, with just nine classified as antisocial behaviour.
However, the funding bid by the council says work with agencies has found that many antisocial behaviour incidents do go unreported.
How will the money be spent?
The biggest bulk of the money, almost £350,000, will be toward new or improved lighting in 70 locations across the two areas, plus the enhancement of CCTV in and around the council blocks and Dame Emily Park in Bedminster.
A new ‘overview’ CCTV camera from the tower blocks will help gather evidence of crime, and improve surveillance.
More than £250,000 will go on expanding youth work by more than 50%, in a bid to offer activities away from crime and improve youth engagement in the two areas.
There will also be an awareness campaign on the seriousness of antisocial behaviour, equality training in two schools, spend on substance misuse harm reduction and the launch of six mini community projects aimed at connecting public services with residents.
What the police have said
South Bristol Inspector Chris Green told BristolWorld that the police supported the council’s bid for the Government funding.
He said the force often dealt with ‘peaks and troughs’ in calls on antisocial behaviour, but added he had noticed a recent slight rise in antisocial behaviour in some areas ‘which we need to do something about’.
He said: “In the tower blocks it is impacting the quality of some people’s lives. They are coming into the stairwell of the flats and seeing drug litter, human excrement and people not associated with their block.”
Last month, police were granted a three-month long closure order of Millmead House in a bid to tackle drug-related crime and antisocial behaviour. It meant the block was restricted to resident-only use.
Insp Green said the order had helped, and he would not rule out the measure being used on others areas in a bid to reduce crime.
On the council project, he said: “This is all about working together in a bid to reduce crime and make residents and shoppers feel safe. If that means bringing in more CCTV to improve surveillance, then it is a measure I’m happy we take.
“We all want the best for the community.”
What Mayor Marvin Rees said
“Working with local groups, community-based organisations and the police, we’re working to make these areas as safe as we can.
“Remember that anti-social behaviours can be complex, too. Perpetrators of ASB can be victims of failures themselves.
“So we need an approach that’s strong but also empathetic and compassionate, and offers pathways to restoration and more constructive activity.
“Hence the need to work with a wide range of interventions in order to take on this challenge.”