Hard work carried out by Safer Merton – a team of Merton Council staff and police officers – paid off when the partnership scooped third place in the Safer London Problem Solving Awards for one of its most successful projects.
The Safer Merton team started up Parklife – combating disorder through partnership after Merton Council’s 2005 Residents’ Survey revealed fear of crime in Lower Morden was higher than anywhere else in the borough.
Groups of potential troublemakers frequently gathered from across a wide area to drink and smoke in St George’s Playing Field and the disorder spilled into nearby streets.
Safer Merton crews moved in and put new three-metre high fencing around the park and helped set up resident action groups which recorded all anti-social behaviour in special incident diaries. Information gathered in these diaries led directly to the discovery of a cannabis factory operating next to the park where organisers were selling drugs to children. Police raided the factory last spring and made one arrest.
Private alleyways providing access to the park were gated off thanks to Merton Council’s much-lauded Alleygating scheme.
Teams of local police officers also involved young people in football tournaments and other events to engage them in community activities.
Safer Merton’s efforts have meant fear of crime in the area has dropped by nearly a quarter, from 75% of residents saying they were concerned about crime in 2005 to 58% in 2007. Police have also experienced a 34% drop in calls to the park and the surrounding area, while calls to clear up graffiti have fallen by 39%.
Cabinet member for Partnership and Community Safety Councillor David Simpson said: “This award shows how we are determined, through this kind of partnership working, to put our residents’ safety first and make sure that they feel safe and live in a crime and graffiti free environment.’
“The Metropolitan Police, who organised the Safer London Problem Solving Awards, commended Safer Merton for its successful partnership working and its use of problem-solving to increase community cohesion. Parklife was also the only project among the finalists to be led by the council rather than the police. Safer Merton deserves to feel very proud of this award.”
Lower Morden Safer neighbourhoods Team will be running a three day youth activity event in the park from Wednesday 9th April until Friday 11th April. For more information please contact the team on 020 8721 2456 or email LowerMorden.firstname.lastname@example.org.