The plan: A safer stronger neighbourhood
Crime and the fear of crime is the key factor that makes people want to leave their neighbourhood, so maintaining low levels of crime is essential for the future sustainability of Castle Vale. Environmental issues, estate services and the general upkeep and appearance of the estate also impacts on fear of crime and perceptions of an area. From a position in the early 90’s where there were high levels of crime, Castle Vale today is one of the safest places to live in Birmingham.
The reduction in crime figures has been brought about by successful partnership working and in particular a far more visible Neighbourhood Policing Team, with the establishment being increased by the equivalent of 1.6 equivalent officers funded by the Castle Vale Endowment Trust Fund. Recent and imminent changes to the way local policing is carried out following the Force’s Continuous Improvement programme and funding cuts of 25% will mean significant changes to operational arrangements such as smaller neighbourhood teams, and we will need to closely monitor arrangements to ensure a continued effective and responsive service in Castle Vale.
The introduction of a Community Warden Team in Castle Vale in 2002 has proved successful in contributing to a reduction in reported crime, a reduction in fear of crime and providing an effective link between the community and service providers. The partnership working of the Youth Outreach Team with the Community Warden Team has also been successful in accessing and engaging young people on the estate.
The Neighbourhood Tasking Group meeting continues to develop, with partner agencies being tasked to respond to community priorities and targeted activity on ‘hot spots’. There have been a number of successes including a positive response to mini motorbikes and a significant reduction in the number of complaints. CCTV along with Catch Radios also both play a key part in keeping crime low and helping people feel safe
Information from the community is clear that the level of satisfaction and feeling of safety within Castle Vale is high. There is no shortage of people wanting to live on the estate and those leaving are very low in number. House prices reflect that Castle Vale is not viewed as an unsafe or problem area. Fear of crime is still an issue for some older members of the community and it is most closely associated with the behaviour and activities of young people. The young people also have a view of older people as being intolerant and failing to understand issues affecting young people today. Activities which promote inter-generational contacts can go some way to breaking down barriers and improving understanding.
The future effective management of Castle Vale both in the narrow sense of the Castle Vale estate and the broad sense of Castle Vale as a district neighbourhood relies on active resident participation. Some of tomorrow’s leaders will be found among the young people of today. It follows that there needs to be a clear policy of identifying individuals and encouraging participation together with developing skills in organisation and management. Opportunities to develop active links to encourage local participation and develop management and organisational skills between the Castle Vale Youth Council, CVCHA Board of Management and Castle Vale Neighbourhood Partnership Board need to be taken.