Sunderland Echo - - Front page - By Echo Re­porter [email protected]­east-press.co.uk Twit­ter: @sun­der­lan­de­cho

More po­lice on the streets would help us feel more safe and se­cure in our city and neigh­bour­hoods.

That was the mes­sage from Echo read­ers who took part in our Big City Sur­vey when it came to the is­sue of crime.

Mat­ters of law and or­der is the lat­est topic we are look­ing at when analysing the re­sults of the sur­vey, in which nearly 1,000 read­ers par­tic­i­pated.

More than half of those who took part said they had not been a vic­tim of crime in the past 12 months, while al­most one in three (31.6%) agreed when asked if they felt safe when out and about in the city.

But crime nonethe­less re­mains a ma­jor is­sue for peo­ple, with our sur­vey show­ing that:

30.8% agreed and 15% strongly agreed that crime is a ma­jor is­sue in the city while just 4.5% strongly dis­agreed with that state­ment

25% dis­agreed and 16.8% strongly dis­agreed with the sug­ges­tion that Sun­der­land is safer now than it was five years ago – with only 2.2% strongly agree­ing

35.8% agreed and 22.7% strongly agreed with the state­ment that they avoid cer­tain ar­eas for be­ing a vic­tim of crime

And 39.5% dis­agreed and 25.6% strongly dis­agreed that po­lice of­fi­cers have a high pro­file in the city – with only 2.4% strongly agree­ing with that state­ment

But while it is clear peo­ple still have con­cerns, Sun­der­land’s po­lice chief pointed to work be­ing done by of­fi­cers in the city to com­bat crim­i­nals – as well as high­light­ing the vis­i­ble po­lice pres­ence seen at ma­jor events in the city and on com­mu­nity walk­a­bouts in our neigh­bour­hoods tack­ling anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

Tem­po­rary Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent Sarah Pitt said: “First of all we would like to thank the res­i­dents in Sun­der­land for com­plet­ing the Sun­der­land Echo’s Big City Sur­vey and giv­ing their feed­back on crime in the city. It’s in­cred­i­bly use­ful to us to hear their views and un­der­stand the is­sues that mat­ter most to them.

“We work very closely in part­ner­ship with Sun­der­land City Coun­cil to make the city a safe place. Over the past year we have car­ried out tar­geted op­er­a­tions which have fo­cused on bur­glary, an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, pro­tect­ing vul­ner­a­ble vic­tims and hate crime, to name but a few, right across the city. “We’re ab­so­lutely com­mit­ted to lis­ten­ing to what res­i­dents tell us as it’s only then we can get to the root of their con­cerns and find out what the is­sues that re­ally af­fect them are. We know one of the big­gest con­cerns lo­cal res­i­dents have is anti-so­cial

be­hav­iour and over the past few weeks se­nior of­fi­cers have been out and about in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties where we know anti-so­cial be­hav­iour has been an is­sue.

“Along with Sun­der­land City Coun­cil, Gen­too and lo­cal coun­cil­lors we have been speak­ing to res­i­dents and lo­cal busi­ness own­ers, find­ing out what the main is­sues are and gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion so that we can do some­thing about it. Of­fi­cers will now be visit­ing lo­cal schools in the ar­eas is­sues have been iden­ti­fied to talk to pupils about the im­pact of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour and what could hap­pen if they are found to be in­volved.

“In re­sponse to com­mu­nity con­cerns we have put in place dis­per­sal no­tices to move trou­ble­mak­ers out of an area, worked with our part­ners to evict nui­sance neigh­bours and con­tinue to en­force Op­er­a­tion Gryphon – our ini­tia­tive that adopts a three-tiered ap­proach to anti-so­cial be­hav­iour.

“Po­lice teams across Sun­der­land are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing the city is a safe place for our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Pro­vid­ing a highly vis­i­ble po­lice pres­ence through­out the city is im­por­tant to us. How­ever, we recog­nise not ev­ery­one will see us all of the time. I would like to re­as­sure res­i­dents that we are there, and more im­por­tantly, we will be there when they need us.

“Our ac­tiv­ity has been car­ried out across the city as a whole as well as at a lo­cal level within lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. We have car­ried out both the lighter nights and darker nights cam­paign, tar­get­ing crimes that of­ten peo­ple per­ceive rise when the clocks change, as well as car­ry­ing out a lot of work to tar­get mo­tor­bike dis­or­der and ac­tively sup­port­ing na­tional aware­ness weeks such as hate crime aware­ness week.

“Op­er­a­tion Guardian con­tin­ues to be en­forced in the city cen­tre which is aimed at safe­guard­ing any­one who may be, or be­come vul­ner­a­ble, dur­ing a night out. Op­er­a­tion Guardian sees us work­ing with li­censed premises, se­cu­rity guards and taxi driv­ers to en­sure the city cen­tre is a safe place for peo­ple to en­joy a night out.

“Lo­cal neigh­bour­hood of­fi­cers reg­u­larly at­tend lo­cal com­mu­nity events in their neigh­bour­hood which gives them the op­por­tu­nity to meet their lo­cal res­i­dents in a re­laxed in­for­mal set­ting, which hope­fully builds their con­fi­dence to come and speak to us when they need us.

“Neigh­bour­hood Polic­ing Teams reg­u­larly hold PACT (Part­ners and Com­mu­ni­ties To­gether) meet­ings and po­lice surg­eries pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity for res­i­dents to come and dis­cuss their con­cerns, as well as hear about the work po­lice have been do­ing in the area.

“We have a reg­u­lar pres­ence at the many ma­jor events the city hosts, such as the Sun­der­land In­ter­na­tional Air­show, Sun­der­land Pride and Sun­der­land Mela and look for­ward to at­tend­ing these events each year. Of­fi­cers are not only there to of­fer re­as­sur­ance but they also get in­volved and we al­ways en­cour­age mem­bers of the pub­lic to come up to us and say hello. We have had some fan­tas­tic feed­back from vis­i­tors who wel­come our pres­ence and in­ter­ac­tion with the pub­lic.

“Our own Safer Com­mu­ni­ties Sur­vey, which we carry out in con­junc­tion with Sun­der­land City Coun­cil, found al­most 90% of peo­ple think po­lice tackle lo­cal prob­lems in Sun­der­land, with al­most 100% say­ing they felt safe in their lo­cal area. Al­most 85% say they think po­lice do a good job at keep­ing the city cen­tre safe.

“There has been a rise in recorded crime, not just in Sun­der­land but across the Northum­bria Po­lice area and na­tion­ally. This is in part down to the way crime is recorded, put in sim­ple terms in­ci­dents that are now classed as a crime would not have been classed as such pre­vi­ously. It is im­por­tant to point out that we have not seen a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of in­ci­dents re­ported to po­lice, it is sim-

ply that in­ci­dents that would not have been classed as a crime be­fore are now classed a crime.

“In ad­di­tion to this, over the past few years we have car­ried out a lot of work aimed at giv­ing vic­tims of cer­tain crime types the con­fi­dence to come for­ward and re­port these to po­lice, for ex­am­ple vic­tims of hate crimes and sex­ual of­fences.

“We recog­nise there have been some sig­nif­i­cant is­sues around demon­stra­tions in the city in the past year that have had an im­pact on our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and now want to be able to look for­ward. We want to con­tinue to build and im­prove pub­lic con­fi­dence in po­lice, and hope by con­tin­u­ing to work with our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties right across the city we can do this.”

Armed po­lice at the Race for Life in Sun­der­land ear­lier this year. Firearms of­fi­cers will be back on pa­trol for Great North Run week­end.

Po­lice of­fi­cers Supt Steven Heat­ley, Chief Insp Mark Hall, PC Iain Todd and Sgt Louise McClen­nan, with coun­cil of­fi­cer Stu­art Dou­glas

Chief In­spec­tor Mark Hall, left, and Su­per­in­ten­dent Steve Heat­ley, chat to peo­ple at Pen­ny­well Shops.

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