Baroness Newlove asks communities to reclaim streets


Baroness Newlove: Communities can be "the eyes and ears on the ground"

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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.

Start Quote

Local agencies must begin trust the people they serve to solve problems for themselves”

End Quote Baroness Newlove Communities champion

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."

Garry Newlove 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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  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Yes, I think it is a good idea; anything that reduces crime has got to be good. We should not always expect the police to do the dirty work. The baroness is right. Reclaim the streets from the yobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Without funding, support and powers any policing by community groups or residents is doomed to failure and would amount to little more than local mob rule. As for Baroness Newlove's suggestion of arming local people with speed guns, who would ensure that these guns are calibrated, maintained and not tampered with?

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    3) There is a significant risk of wasting time and money on the reporting of rumour, false reporting of crime and the community subjecting certain individuals who may not fit in to the local dynamic to unjustified claims of crimes/ antisocial behaviour.
    This as far as I see it is a way of removing the responsibility of the police and placing it on the victims of the crime/ antisocial behaviour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    The root of the problem is that there are a large group of people who take no notice of the criminal justice system.

    Their offences are persistent but minor so they don't go to prison.

    They have no money or are on benefits so they cannot be fined.

    They have no shame so asbo and the like don't work.

    Community orders are innefective because they cannot be forced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Interesting to read the posts here against all these ideas - what people don't realise is this is what we all used to do, many years ago. Kids messing around in the street were confronted by local residents and packed off home. The local policeman lived locally and people knew him. People regularly got involved because they were out there, communicating, building their presence in the community.


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