The Safer Croydon Partnership (SCP) has been credited for helping to curb concerns about community safety on the Shrublands Estate.
Croydon is one of six entries shortlisted as a finalist for this year’s Problem Orientated Partnership (Pop) Awards.
The awards, now in their 13th year, are run by the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London and the Mayor of London. They seek to credit good partnership work between the police and communities to reduce crime and disorder.
The SCP has been nominated for its work to stop hate crime and antisocial behaviour on the Shrublands Estate in Shirley, following the attack on Kurdish Iranian Reker Ahmed, which left him fighting for his life.
Residents joined with the rest of Croydon to condemn this crime, and also raised concerns about the criminal activities and antisocial behaviour on their estate.
A small group of offenders had left some feeling too intimidated to use local shops as groups of youth congregated outside, smoking cannabis at the front and back of the businesses, where there was a poorly-lit garage area.
Police and council teams worked together with residents, businesses and local groups to improve community confidence by finding solutions to crime, noise complaints, verbal abuse, intimidation and vandalism.
The SCP set up a joint task force that took a zero-tolerance approach to minor crime.
Enforcement action followed, with arrests made for robbery, theft, burglary, handling stolen goods, shoplifting and disorder. Ten trespass notices were also served, barring offenders from entering the estate.
30 offenders were identified, along with several locations that were causing concern. This included the Broom Road shopping area and several flats. The task force also checked noise levels at several locations. There was a clampdown on vehicle crime and prosecutions brought for drinking and driving.
The police met weekly with residents at a Broom Road cafe, which helped deter youths from congregating outside, and increased trust with the community.
And weapon sweeps were carried out regularly, focusing on Broom Road and the playground area, with knives and, machetes recovered. A year later not a single weapon has been found.
South BCU Commander, Jeff Boothe, said: “This is a real case study for the power of partnership working. Not only is the success reflected in the statistics; just 32 reports this year compared to the 110 we recorded last year, but also in the reaction of the community. Both residents and shopkeepers are telling us they no longer see young people congregating outside the shops and intimidating people and that is because of a 360 degree approach to the problem.
“I hope the success of this initiative encourages more partnership working in our communities as together we really do achieve more.”
The council’s youth outreach team were also deployed to Shrublands to engage with local young people and to raise awareness of the youth services on offer in the area.
Croydon’s youth offending team commissioned a six-week boxing, fitness and crime diversion programme, which included workshops on crime awareness, youth violence, gangs and weapon awareness.
The gangs team, local police team, youth outreach and housing officers all referred young people they thought were at risk of possible offending and gang involvement on to the course.
Staff from the ‘Croydon Works’ project also spent several weeks on the estate, helping young people and older unemployed residents into education, training and potential employment opportunities.
Meanwhile the council’s neighbourhood safety officers worked closely with the anti-social behaviour officers to encourage local retailers to keep their shop fronts free from rubbish, and to take pride in the place.
Support was also provided for two people at risk of harming themselves or others in the community, which led to positive outcomes for both.
The task and finish group also bid for funding to deploy two CCTV cameras on Broom Road to monitor activity and provide community reassurance.
The money also helped to improve the estate’s appearance, which included redesigning three raised flower beds to stop deter people from hanging around the shopping area, and removing railings surrounding the green space which was also used as seating for the groups of youths.
Solar powered security lights were also installed at the rear of the shops to make the space feel safer at night.
Regular meetings are still held between the neighbourhood policing team, housing officers and ASB team.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities
“The hate-motivated attack on Reker Ahmed shocked Croydon and the nation. Our partnership approach in this important work to tackle hate crime and antisocial behaviour has made clear that we will not tolerate hate crime and antisocial behaviour in our borough.
“Knowing the community feels safer in their neighbourhood is hugely important – one resident said ‘the change up here is not only visible to us, but it feels like home should do, and the community no longer fear a trip to the local shops’.”