In 2022 Torbay Council was awarded £750,000 from the Government’s Safer Streets fund to carry out work and take action to discourage anti-social behaviour (ASB) and reduce violence against women and girls (VAWG).
The work which has taken place since then has been carried out with further match funding totalling over £375,000 from the council, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the police and the Melville Community Group.
The project area has a resident population of about 8,000 and includes the town centre, harbourside, and key green spaces across the seafront.
Torquay remains a safe, low crime area. However, the project area is in the top 10% most deprived in the country, there is above national averages for unemployment and it’s a meeting point for some individuals with challenging behaviours and offending patterns.
The project uses four approaches to help people feel safer:
- Reducing opportunities to commit ASB and VAWG crimes in key hotspot locations. This includes additional CCTV and street lighting and improvements to two town centre car parks. Making changes to neglected public spaces so they are less likely to suffer with antisocial use.
- Deploying teams to increase visibility and enforcement in hotspot locations for ASB.
- Working with pubs, clubs, and restaurants to develop a new Safety of Women at Night Charter (SWAN), offering education initiatives including bystander awareness, targeted campaigns and the launch of a new accredited safe places network offering safe havens to women and girls who feel unsafe or need help on a night out.
- Working with local community groups to improve public spaces through a new community innovation fund.
Activities are not undertaken in isolation but alongside wider partnership work to change culture and underlying behaviours.
What we’re doing
- CCTV - installing 13 cameras, providing two re-deployable mobile units and two new monitors for our control room, and installing power equipment
- Street lighting - upgrading 45 LED lights and columns
- Car parks - installed 21 new sets of doors at Lower Union Lane car park, which replaced doors which were regularly being vandalised. Eight new window grills were installed to prevent misuse. Ten sets of gates were installed at Union Square car park which secured the two emergency stairwells.
- Employing a town centre officer
- Employing an extra CCTV operator
- Target hardening of the street scene – visible improvements to the public realm to encourage pro-social use of spaces and increase feelings of safety.
- Additional police resources for two to four shifts a week - patrols focus on the key areas and at the times when the highest volume of issues occur.
- Police VAWG rapid response car - employed for 30 nine hour shifts exclusively deployed in Torquay town centre at night between April and June 2023, with similar coverage planned from June to September 2023.
- Police cadets - carrying out eight days of social action which could include park improvements (planting/benches), graffiti cleanups, diversionary games days for young people, raising awareness of the impact of ASB and VAWG issues.
- Youth ASB outreach - building relationships with young people to support access to wider youth provision and to engage in activity that increases positive activity and aspirations.
- Street marshals - two marshals will work through the busiest summer months to disrupt ASB and reduce the fear of crime within the community. They will also engage with vulnerable people to keep them safe, reducing demand on the police.
- Street Pastors - street pastors have held a vital support role in the local night-time economy in providing support, advice and first aid to those who need it. This work will include the refurbishment and maintenance of the street pastors’ bus to develop it into a safe place used to support vulnerable people at night.
- Training - courses aimed at employers will empower their staff people to take an active role in addressing VAWG and become active bystanders.
- Community Innovation Fund - this fund will empower local people to take some ownership and drive change in their community. The fund will be used to improve the appearance of areas and create a greater sense of responsibility. The initiatives will focus on improving spaces through engagement and physical improvements and have a positive impact on the crime types covered in the project.