By Kerry Norman
Merseyside has a population of around 1.38 million people. With the appeal of a bustling city, wild night life and growing culture bringing in more and more people; comes the huge risk of crime.
Merseyside police cover five Basic Command units of Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Liverpool. Officers aim to make the county a safer place to be, in which helping to prevent crime is an important factor.
According to UK crime statistics, anti-social behaviour and violent crimes are the two biggest issues for Merseyside.
One of the ways officials are helping to prevent crime is through an Interactive Crime Prevention Scheme. Found on Merseyside Police website, audiences can find tips for keeping yourself safe against crime in various situations, including domestic and public. Readers navigate their way through their own virtual town, clicking on houses, vehicles and people to find out more information about keeping safe. One of the pieces of advice that is given regarding personal safety is: “Carry your bag close to you with the clasp facing inwards. Carry your house keys in your pocket.”
Although direct policing provides a helping hand in preventing crime, it is not the only source. Various charities across Merseyside aim to create better lives for people who could inevitably end up in a life of crime, before it is too late. However, charities are unable to do this on their own, and this is where the Crime Prevention fund provides the necessary support.
The fund is split between eligible charities and organisations as chosen by Police Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy. The aim is to stop problems before they occur. Organisations suitable must mirror one of the Commissioners priorities. They also must address either:
-Primary prevention, directed at stopping problems before they happen
-Secondary prevention, seeking to change people
-Tertiary prevention, focusing on dealing with offending after it has happened
Over 70 charities and organisations applied for a share of the 2017/2018 fund. However, only 13 were successful and have begun using their funds. The organisation receiving the most out of the £135,020 allowance was The Royal Court Liverpool Trust. Acquiring £25,000, the money will go towards running their hard-hitting drama Terriers, a drama shown in schools that raises awareness for young people of the dangers of getting involved with gang crime. Money was also awarded to The Ariel Trust. Their ‘It’s not OK!’ project helps give teachers resources to educate young people on issues such as domestic, homophobic and online abuse.
Neighbourhood Watch is another form of crime prevention that runs throughout the country. The scheme allows neighbours to be more vigilant and have a greater awareness of what is happening in their neighbourhood, coming together with the community to make a safer and better place to live. Merseyside Neighbourhood Watch aims to cut opportunities for crime and anti-social behaviour, as well as help detect crime by prompting the reporting of suspicious activity.
With nightlife being a magnet for party goers to the city centre, increased numbers could mean increased risks. On average, there is around 80,000 people in the city centre on a Friday or Saturday night. These numbers include the large student population, making the most of their University life in a vibrant city. The concern for student’s safety is on the forefront of student representative’s minds. Caitlin Hare from Liverpool’s Student Union, told Merseydays about their plans for crime prevention among students: “We are hoping to reintroduce the safe taxi scheme. Where if a student can’t get home for whatever reason then they can get a taxi, leave their student card with the taxi and go and collect it and pay for the taxi the next day.” This scheme will look at keeping student’s safe and protected, whilst avoiding being a victim of crime.
Crime prevention will continue to be a work in progress all across the country, especially in Merseyside. With a growing population and rising crime rates, keeping residents safe is officials number one priority.