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Making Our Cities Safe: Evaluating the Safer Cities Programme in Scotland - Research Findings

DescriptionThe aim of each evaluation was to chart the history and strategic development of individual projects, and assess their impact.
ISBN0 7480 5088 4
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 29, 1998

Crime and Criminal Justice Research Findings No. 9 (1996)

Making our Cities Safe: Evaluating the Safer Cities Programme in Scotland
James Carnie


ISBN 0-7480-5088-4 Publisher The Scottish Office Price £5.00

The Safer Cites Programme, announced by The Scottish Office in 1989, is a crime prevention initiative designed to tackle crime and the fear of crime through community based multi-agency projects. After a phased introduction projects were established in four locations: Central Edinburgh, Castlemilk, Greater Easterhouse and Dundee (North East). A fifth Project was established in Aberdeen in 1992. The Projects shared three main objectives: to reduce crime; to lessen the fear of crime; and to create safer cities in which economic enterprise and community life could flourish. In 1993, the Department commissioned an evaluation of each of the first four projects established in Scotland together with an overview report on all four projects. The aim of each evaluation was to chart the history and strategic development of individual projects, to describe and analyse local crime trends over the life-span of each project and to assess the extent to which each project had met its primary, secondary and developing objectives. The evaluation report of the Safer Edinburgh Project was published in December 1994 and those for Safe Greater Easterhouse, Safe Castlemilk, the Dundee (North East) Safer Cities Project and the Overview Report were published in February, 1996.
Main findings
  • The importance of harnessing the goodwill and experience of well established community groups was vital to the success of the Safer Cities Projects.
  • One of the main functions of each Project therefore was to act as a 'broker' or 'catalyst' to bring together local service providers and community organisations to work collectively.
  • Home security was a significant part of the Safer Cities Programme and in 3 out of the 4 Project Areas housebreaking levels were reduced. Between 1989 and 1994 housebreaking fell by 56% in Castlemilk and 17% in Dundee (North East). In Greater Easterhouse recorded housebreakings fell by 49% between 1991 and 1994.
  • Each of the projects devised its own summer activities scheme to occupy local youngsters in positive pursuits as a method of diverting them from potentially mischievous or delinquent behaviour. The majority of these schemes were successful in gainfully occupying young people.
  • One indication of success is the degree to which the crime prevention and community safety work developed by the Projects continued after the life of the Projects themselves. In Lothian, a new Community Safety Unit was established in 1994 which built on the experience of the Safer Edinburgh Project. In Tayside, plans for a similar Unit were formalised in the Spring of 1995. It will build on the lessons learned from the Dundee Project. In Castlemilk, the Partnership created and funded a post to continue developing within the area a crime prevention and community safety agenda. In Greater Easterhouse, the Project has secured an additional year of funding for its work and is aiming to secure a longer term future.
Introduction
The Safer Cites Programme is a Government crime prevention initiative designed to tackle crime and the fear of crime through community based multi-agency Projects. The Scottish Office announced the Safer Cities Programme in 1989. After a phased introduction Projects were established in four locations: Central Edinburgh, Castlemilk, Greater Easterhouse and Dundee (North East). A fifth project was established in Aberdeen in 1992. The Projects shared three main objectives:
  • to reduce crime;
  • to lessen the fear of crime and;
  • to create safer cities in which economic enterprise and community life could flourish.
In 1993, the Department commissioned evaluations of the first four Projects established in Scotland together with an overview report highlighting the main features of each Project. The evaluation report of the Safer Edinburgh Project was published in December 1994. The aim of each evaluation was to chart the history and strategic development of the individual Projects, to describe and analyse local crime trends over their life-spans and to assess the extent to which each Project had met its primary, secondary and developing objectives. In each case the evaluations draw upon four principal sources of data: information and data from project files; interviews with key informants; data from local crime profiles; and 'before' and 'after' household surveys conducted in the Project Area.
The goodwill and experience of well established community groups was vital to the success of the Safer Cities Projects. It was important for the community to know that it had, through its representatives and organisations, a significant voice in events and decision making which could impact upon residents' lives. Lines of communication between professional service-providers and community representatives also needed to be clear so that tensions did not arise over the quality or effectiveness of service delivery.
One of the main functions of each Project therefore was to act as a 'catalyst' to bring together local service providers and community organisations to work collectively. The following were identified as factors which contributed towards effective partnerships:
  • where objectives were commonly held and priorities were agreed beforehand;
  • where initiatives were service driven with community backing;
  • where there was a general empathy with the aims of Safer Cities;
  • where a spirit of compromise prevailed when problems arose and;
  • where tangible benefits were perceived to accrue from co-operation.
Although all of the projects identified the reduction of fear of crime as an important strategic objective it continued to be a significant problem for many sections of each community, especially elderly and vulnerable people.
Important lessons were learned from the Safer Cities Programme. The Projects' own attempts at monitoring and evaluating their performances were at best ad hoc and uneven. While some initiatives were fully evaluated others received scant attention in this respect. Overall, Projects did not routinely or systematically evaluate their performance.
The importance of exchanging ideas became apparent early in the lives of the Projects. Twice yearly meetings of Project Co-ordinators proved an invaluable forum for discussing and sharing initiatives and ideas.
Safer Edinburgh
The first Household Crime and Safety Survey conducted in 1991 by the Safer Edinburgh Project revealed that concern within the Safer Edinburgh area focused more upon disorderly conduct, such as drunkenness and rowdiness, than it did upon crime. The survey also indicated that many women were concerned about the issue of harassment with a large proportion of the women who took part in the survey (45%) saying they were 'very' or 'fairly' worried about sexual assault.
As a result of this survey the Safer Edinburgh Project developed an Action Plan which focused on three main themes:
  • late night alcohol-related violence;
  • fear of crime and women's safety and;
  • young people and crime.
In response to the problem of late night alcohol-related violence and disorder, the Safer Edinburgh Project devised a 4-part strategy. This aimed to develop a multi-agency approach to the reduction of these problems by emphasising the need for 'high visibility' police patrolling; a revised local Licensing Board policy on extended licensing hours, and for the introduction of practical crime prevention measures. Safer Edinburgh played a facilitative and productive role in putting alcohol-related disorder on to the local licensing agenda and in bringing together interested parties to tackle related problems.
Safer Edinburgh's response to women's safety was to develop a number of initiatives to improve the physical environment and widen the dissemination of safety information. The Project also funded a women's self-defence training programme and part-funded the Zero Tolerance campaign.
Safer Edinburgh's work with children and young people also took the form of a 4-part strategy involving:
  • educational work in schools;
  • detached youth work;
  • financial support for a range of youth activities within schools and the community;
  • capital expenditure on projects to provide new facilities for young people.
Crime levels in a number of key areas declined within the Safer Edinburgh Area during the period the Project operated, though it is impossible to ascertain fully the extent to which such reductions were due to the Project. The number of incidents of assault and robbery reported in the Project Area decreased from 1991 onwards at a proportionately greater rate than for Lothian & Borders as a whole. The incidence of serious assault also declined. Late night/early morning peaks of assault and robbery also showed a tendency to diminish in size as a proportion of incidents within the Safer Edinburgh Area over the duration of the Project.
The number of housebreaking incidents over the period 1988-93 rose in Lothian & Borders by 5%, but declined in the Project Area by 16%. Similarly, the number of motor vehicle thefts increased by 19% in Lothian & Borders over this period, but fell by 10% in the Project Area.
The second household crime survey revealed that, in 1993, fewer respondents considered issues such as vandalism, late night street violence and drunkenness to be 'big problems' in the Project Area. Women's fear of crime had also reduced with 37% of women being worried about sexual assault in 1993 compared to 45% of women in 1989. However, women's fear of sexual harassment had increased over the same period from 40% to 44%.
While the Safer Edinburgh Project played a prominent role in bringing agencies together to promote particular initiatives, many of which will continue to be of benefit to the Project Area in the future, the research found that the Project had only a limited success in promoting its own public profile. Only 15% of City Centre residents who responded to the second household survey were aware of the existence of the Safer Edinburgh Project.
Safe Greater Easterhouse
Safe Greater Easterhouse conducted a Household Crime and Safety Survey in 1991 which revealed that concern within Greater Easterhouse focused upon unemployment, lack of facilities for young people, thefts from cars, vandalism and drug abuse. Parents expressed concern about their children being run down by a motor vehicle, playing in dangerous places, finding used needles and syringes and being attacked by stray dogs.
The strategy adopted by Safe Greater Easterhouse involved, therefore:
  • promoting safety through raising awareness and changing attitudes and behaviour in a number of key community groups including children and young people, parents, senior citizens and the unemployed;
  • different aspects of safety were identified including safety from crime, from the fear of crime, in the home, within the environment, at play, on the roads, at work and from fire.
Home security was a key feature of the Project's strategy and in 1993 Urban Aid funding totalling £680,000 over a 3 year period was awarded to fund an initiative which offered home security equipment free of charge to all 16,000 households in the area. A Business Security Scheme was also developed which offered financial assistance to local businesses to install and improve security systems.
As part of its commitment to women's safety the Project funded a variety of initiatives including self-defence courses, workshops on domestic violence, personal attack alarms, educational programmes and public awareness campaigns. The Project was also instrumental in setting up 2 Victim Support Schemes in the area.
Another initiative involved the funding of 2,100 smoke detectors for the homes of elderly tenants in the area. The Project was also active in the field of road safety, campaigning for appropriate traffic calming measures in the area.
Over the period 1990-94 crime rates in a number of key categories declined in the Project Area. Against a general background of falling crime rates, the decline of 23% in the Project Area was greater than the 13% fall at Divisional level, 16% fall at Force level and 11% fall at National level. Crimes of dishonesty reduced by 33% in Greater Easterhouse between 1991 and 1994. This contrasted with a reduction of 21% at Divisional level, 24% at Force level and 18% at National level. The 41% downturn in the number of housebreakings between 1991 and 1994 was also significantly greater in the Project Area than the 28% fall at Divisional level, 30% fall at Force level and 24% fall at National level.
A second household survey, carried out in 1994, revealed that crime still remained a problem for over one-fifth of those responding (22% in 1994; 21% in 1991). Fear of crime, however, had been reduced for some people over the same period (3% in 1994; 7% in 1991). Road safety continued to be seen as a critical issue by local people (35% in 1994; 31% in 1991).
The Project was relatively successful in promoting its own public profile with some 38% of local residents having heard of Safe Greater Easterhouse. The Project was, therefore, an effective 'catalyst' in bringing together a variety of agencies to work collaboratively on a wide range of initiatives. The Project has managed to secure a £78,000 funding package which will ensure that Safe Greater Easterhouse will continue until May 1996. It remains to be seen whether further funding can be obtained to ensure the contribution of crime prevention and community safety activities in the Greater Easterhouse area thereafter.
Safe Castlemilk
A Household Crime and Safety Survey, conducted in 1991, revealed that concern within Castlemilk focused upon unemployment, drug abuse, lack of facilities for young people, housebreaking, community safety, road safety and vandalism.
  • Safe Castlemilk developed an Action Plan which, inter alia, targeted the following key areas:
  • children and young people;
  • drug abuse and;
  • safety in the home.
Community safety issues in general were central to residents' concerns and Safe Castlemilk set out a 'mission statement' to encourage the promotion of safety in the activities of all agencies and organisations working within the Project Area; to develop a sense of security in Castlemilk; to reduce the potential for crime; and to create a safe environment in which community life and economic enterprise could flourish.
The Project adopted a collaborative approach with other agencies to develop educational packages and various schemes to involve children in sporting and leisure pursuits. Similarly the Project funded a number of drug awareness and drug prevention initiatives, including a Drug Prevention Fund, a Drug Line telephone service, a Drug Information Library and an anti-dependency advice and counselling service.
The security initiative in the Croftfoot/Tormusk area of Castlemilk (a joint venture with Glasgow Housing Department) fitted 227 houses with a comprehensive alarm and monitoring system. Additionally, the Castlemilk Action Against Fire Injury Project installed smoke detectors in every house in the area.
Over the period 1990-94 crime rates in a number of key categories declined in the Project Area. Against a general background of falling crime rates, the decline of 26% in the Project Area was greater than the 16% fall at Divisional level, 16% fall at Force level and 11% fall at National level. Crimes of dishonesty reduced by 38% in Castlemilk between 1991 and 1994. This contrasted with a reduction of 26% at Divisional level, 24% at Force level and 18% at National level. Between 1989 and 1994 the level of housebreaking in the Project Area more than halved.
A follow-up household survey, carried out in 1994, revealed that unemployment and drug abuse remained the biggest concern for local people although vandalism and a lack of facilities for young people also remained a concern. There was a perception, however, that housing, road safety, street lighting and pollution had improved. Parental worries about children lessened, concern about housebreaking diminished and residents appeared to feel safer while out on the street.
The Project was relatively successful in promoting its own public profile with 64% of local residents having heard of Safe Castlemilk. When questioned about tackling problems effectively, 48% were content that home security had been addressed, and 40% believed housebreaking had been tackled successfully.
Safe Castlemilk undoubtedly provided a focus for collaborative inter-agency action and was successful in attracting funding for specific initiatives from sources other than The Scottish Office, its principal contributor.
Dundee (North East) Safer Cities Project
The Dundee (North East) Safer Cities Project, which covered the areas of Whitfield, Fintry, Linlathen and Mid Craigie, carried out a Household Crime and Safety Survey in 1991. The survey revealed that housebreaking was the single most important crime-related problem in the Project Area. Other issues of concern were unemployment, lack of facilities for young people, litter, graffiti and vandalism.
The Dundee (North East) Safer Cities Project adopted a collaborative inter-agency approach to alleviating crime problems in the Project Area and actively sought input from local community organisations. The Project concentrated on 4 main themes:
  • physical crime prevention;
  • social crime prevention;
  • fear of crime (including women's safety and victim support) and;
  • community safety.
Within these main areas of concern, however, home security was given priority status. Following the success of pilot schemes in Whitfield and Mid Craigie an extensive programme of home security improvements was undertaken in collaboration with Dundee Housing Department.
Local concern over the lack of facilities for young people led to the introduction of an initiative called 'Passport to Sport'. This initiative was designed to occupy young people constructively during their school holidays.
Over the period 1991 to 1994 crime rates in a number of key categories declined in the Project Area. Against a general background of falling crime rates, a decline of 11% in the Project Area compared favourably with a 6% fall at Divisional level and a 4% fall at Force level, and matched the fall at National level. Over the period 1989 to 1994 the number of housebreakings in Dundee (North East) dropped by 17% which was better than the 5% decrease at city level and the 4% increase at regional level.
A second household survey, carried out in 1994, revealed that unemployment was still considered in Dundee (North East) to be the biggest problem affecting the Project Area. There continued to be concern over the lack of facilities for teenagers, which was seen to contribute to under-age drinking and vandalism. Housebreaking remained a concern, although anxiety was lower in 1994 than it had been in 1991. Concern about the built environment had also diminished over the period with fewer people regarding housing, empty properties, street lighting and shopping facilities as problematic.
The Project was successful in promoting its own public image with around one-third of local residents having heard of the Project. In relation to Project activities, a quarter of local people were aware of individual activities such as the home security campaign, the car crime campaign, and the personal alarm initiative.
The Project played a prominent role in acting as a 'catalyst' to bring together agencies to work co-operatively in promoting crime prevention and community safety. A significant legacy has been left to the community in the form of the home and business security schemes, Douglas Lads Club, Mossgiel Playpark, Safe Taysiders and the Passport to Sport initiative, as well as many small scale initiatives which enhanced the lives of local citizens.
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This Research Findings paper is based on research carried out by Dr James Carnie, between May 1993 and April 1995. The full reports were published as part of the Central Research Unit series of research papers, and are available from HMSO at a cost of £5.00 each.
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Previous Papers in this series:
1. The Scottish Crime Survey 1993: First Results
2. A Fine on Time: The Monitoring and Evaluation of the Pilot Supervised Attendance Order Schemes
3. Use of Controlled Drugs in Scotland: Findings from the 1993 Scottish Crime Survey
4. Live Television Link: An Evaluation of its use by Child Witnesses in Scottish Criminal Trials
5. Information Needs of Victims
6. Public Interest and Private Grief: A Study of Fatal Accident Enquiries in Scotland
7. An Evaluation of The Scottish Office Domestic Violence Media Campaign
8. Does Closed Circuit Television Prevent Crime? An Evaluation of the use of CCTV Surveillance Cameras in Airdrie Town Centre