Baroness Newlove asks communities to reclaim streets

  • 29 March 2011
  • From the section UK
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Media captionBaroness Newlove: Communities can be "the eyes and ears on the ground"

The widow of a man who was murdered by a gang is calling on ordinary people to "reclaim the streets" from criminals.

Baroness Newlove, the government's communities champion, says those who play an active role in making their communities safer should be rewarded.

One idea, called Bling Back, would see money seized from drug dealers given to the community that provided information to secure their conviction.

Ministers say the proposals will help to shape their approach to activism.

In 2007, Garry Newlove was attacked and suffered fatal brain damage after spending months trying to stop troublemaking youths from vandalising his neighbourhood in Warrington, Cheshire.

His widow Helen, who carried on his campaign, was made a peer by Prime Minister David Cameron shortly after the 2010 General Election.

Ministers asked her to visit community activism projects around the UK, gather ideas via a blog and to report back to ministers about what would work in making neighbourhoods safer.

Council tax rebate

In her report, the peer argues that communities can take more responsibility for dealing with anti-social behaviour and crime and become less reliant on agencies such as the police.

In return for doing so, she says they should be rewarded, and suggests giving those who take part a council tax rebate or vouchers to spend on local services.

Baroness Newlove also wants people to be able to set the speed limits on their local roads, and says they should be given speed guns with which to enforce them.

She says such grassroots enforcement already happens in Cambridgeshire, Devon and Cornwall.

Speaking after the report's publication, she told the BBC: "For too long now, too many people have either not known how to get involved, have not been listened to when they have tried to speak out, or simply felt that it wasn't worth it as nothing would ever change.

"This report sets out how we can change things by empowering local communities to reclaim their streets.

"Everyone has a role to play, communities must begin to take more responsibility and local agencies must begin to lessen their grip on the decision-making process and trust the people they serve to solve problems for themselves."

Image caption Garry Newlove had spent months trying to stop youths from vandalising his neighbourhood

She also said she believed there was a big appetite among residents for volunteering to improve their neighbourhoods.

"To cynics who may be saying, 'Here we go again, another set of recommendations, another report to gather dust,' I'd like them to remember the spirit that sustained, then rebuilt this shattered country during and after the war," she added.

James Brokenshire, Minister for Crime Prevention, said: "Since her appointment, Baroness Newlove has been working tirelessly to inspire, challenge, support and learn from areas across the country.

"I look forward to seeing how her report will help to shape how we approach community activism in the future."

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