Partners against crime
A partnership that shares a vision to make Inverness safer and more vibrant is gearing up for its second year following successful projects across the community.
The Inverness Community Safety Partnership (ICSP) was established to help create and sustain an environment where communities and visitors to the area remain safe and reassured.
A key focus of ICSP is to lead projects with positive benefits and to pay close attention to the concerns of people so that sustainable solutions can be found. Its target is to maintain and develop the vibrancy of Inverness city and surrounding communities by promoting crime prevention and addressing antisocial behaviour through reassurance, communication, education and positive engagement. Part of this remit includes supporting education and prevention of alcohol and substance misuse.
The partners include private, public and voluntary sectors such as Highland Council, Northern Constabulary, Inverness BID, Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service, Inverness Drug and Alcohol Forum, NHS Highland, Inverness Street Pastors and Crimestoppers.
It is chaired by Jim Ferguson, local business owner and chair of Crimestoppers (Highland and Islands). He says the first year has given them clear focus: “With any new partnership we base our success on feedback and evidence. Both give the resounding message that what we are doing is working well, and we continue to drive this forward.”
“We are keen to support the local community and encourage both businesses and residents to come together to support the agencies who are already working hard on their behalf. Every person who lives and works here has an important contribution to make in terms of supporting one other in all aspects of community safety.
David Haas, Highland Council’s Inverness City manager says progress is encouraging: “The ICSP’s success can be attributed to the fact that the partners involved are real decision makers. They’re focused and they deliver. So far, we’ve tackled concerns about HMO’s (houses of multiple occupation) in the city centre and bogus cold-callers.”
The multi agency approach has also introduced taxi marshals who keep order at the city centre taxi rank which is a recognised flashpoint for tired revellers. It’s also made use of street pastors who routinely patrol the city instilling a sense of safety, security, and approachability for locals and visitors alike.
David says they have a powerful presence: “We see the street pastors as on-street ambassadors for the area. They boost vitality and help ensure that people feel safe and want to stay in the area for longer and enjoy the amenities. It’s about making the most of what the area has to offer .The Highlands in general is recognised as one of the safest places to work and live and we know that the street pastors, and the ICSP helps to keep it that way.”
The diverse range of initiatives introduced by the ICSP seeks to ensure that the community as a whole is catered for in the appropriate manner. Temporary Superintendent Graeme Murdoch explains: “Inverness represents a really diverse community with the vast majority of residents having a real pride in the city and what it has to offer .The police enforce the law but we need to maintain a wider view of what makes our communities safe and successful if we are to provide a service of real lasting value and impact. We also know that we can’t do this alone and that is when partnerships like ICSP come into their own.
“The True Grit initiative, Operation Respect and the recent doorstep crime campaign launched with Trading Standards are examples of simple but effective partnership working which promote community safety that also focuses on the needs of particularly vulnerable sections of the community.
“Looking forward to 2012 and beyond, the partners are all agreed that we need the community to buy-in even more to what we are trying to achieve for Inverness.”
The ICSP held a well-attended consultation event in October 2011 to ensure that its focus is meeting the needs of the communities it serves. It intends to hold a further event this year and wants to encourage a real cross-section of individuals and businesses to attend to share their views and establish potential solutions.
The partnership thrives on working in synergy and takes a holistic approach to ensure that it is providing a high quality and reliable service. Chairman Jim Ferguson concludes: “We’re very reassured and motivated by the positive feedback that we’ve received about the ICSP. It’s extremely encouraging to have such a strong focus across the participating agencies, and also to have such solid interaction and support from the private business sector. We relish the opportunity to drive the partnership forward and thank everyone for their concerted efforts to date.”