Crime, intimidation and anti-social behaviour have no place in our town or neighbourhoods, which is why I’m appalled by recent outbreaks of violence in Crawley.
First the good news, although fear of crime remains fairly constant, actual crime has been on a downward trend for a very long time. However, hard won gains are easily lost and every crime affects lives. Events like these show more must be done to protect residents from crime, both through prevention and punishment.
When it comes to prevention, particularly dealing with gangs, it’s important we engage with communities to ensure those at risk of criminal behaviour are challenged early and by those they’re most likely to listen to.
The council has a budget for community safety improvements and we must ensure it’s used effectively to ‘design out’ criminal activity where possible. I would also like to do more to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB), something which changes to the rules on how councils enforce by-laws would enable us to do.
Unfortunately, despite a commitment to bring forward these changes before the next election, we are still waiting for the Government to enable councils to take real action on ASB.
Obviously those involved in crime must be caught and punished in line with the crime they committed, and that raises a serious issue. On Monday, the Shadow Home Secretary raised concerns over the way community resolutions are being used to address issues of domestic violence rather than a traditional prosecution.
Community resolutions and restorative justice have their place but the extent to which they are now being used even in the case of serious offences is worrying and some have suggested the shift is more to do with the costs involved in going through the court system than what is best place to secure justice. This is a concern I have raised with the Police Commissioner in the past.
After the London riots a number of boroughs sought to evict tenants who had participated in destroying their community. I hope that Sunday night marks the end of this sort of behaviour in Crawley but ultimately we will not tolerate yobbishness infecting our neighbourhoods.