OPINION

Women’s safety put at risk by the council’s weak approach to crime

Posted On 12 Jan 2022 at 3:11 pm

The safety of women is being put at risk by Brighton and Hove City Council’s weak approach to crime and anti-social behaviour.

Seven rapes have been recorded in three years in the Pavilion Gardens and surrounding area close to where nine out of ten council street lamps have been left broken for over a year.

And a small area of central Brighton was ranked the eighth worst for crime out of 33,000 areas in the whole country, with hundreds of violent and sexual offences reported in six months.

These shocking crime figures show that the council is failing to keep streets and open spaces safe while it neglects its responsibilities to the people who live and work here and thousands of visitors.

And while women feel unsafe and the vulnerable are exposed to more danger, making some places feel like ‘no go’ areas, this also puts our conference trade and tourist industry at risk.

Council policies such as scrapping public space protection orders (PSPOs) and permitting tents and begging are inviting anti-social behaviour to the centre of Brighton.

The scandalous crime figures merely confirm the fears and concerns of local residents living in the city centre.

The Old Steine Community Association has spoken about the problems with tents, open drug dealing and violence in the public spaces next to the Royal Pavilion over the past year.

Since this Green-Labour council took charge in 2019, it has been implementing policies making Brighton a soft touch on crime and increasingly putting our city out of step with neighbouring councils and the police.

Under this council, our city failed to renew its PSPOs for parks and public spaces because of “equalities” concerns. It took away a tool that council officers said was having a positive deterrent effect on anti-social behaviour.

Then, last year the council decided to become the only council in the country to introduce a Homeless Bill of Rights, legitimising begging across the city and making it harder for officers to remove tents from public parks.

With neighbouring councils such as Worthing taking a more common-sense approach, Labour and the Greens are in effect inviting anti-social behaviour into the centre of Brighton.

The council even declined a chance to apply for a sizeable government grant for better CCTV and lighting in the first round of Safer Streets funding. It claimed not to have the capacity to put in an application.

And this was despite Sussex Police having identified the central Brighton area – including the stretch with broken street lights – as being the most in need of new measures. There are just 95 CCTV cameras covering public spaces and an inadequate monitoring set up.

Councillor Dee Simson at the Victoria Fountain

To make things worse, the council has given up using the powers that it has at its disposal, with by-laws not being adequately enforced.

No wonder women feel unsafe, particularly in the rundown and badly lit areas neglected by the council.

It has also failed to employ a full complement in its anti-social behaviour unit – the newly created field officers – for long periods.

As highlighted by my colleague Nick Lewry in an opinion piece for Brighton and Hove News, the city went through a whole summer with only a third of these important posts filled.

I will be calling for an urgent review of the council’s policies and commitment to tackling crime after the shocking figures above were published.

The council is simply not making safety a priority, especially for women, and this must change.

Councillor Dee Simson speaks for the Conservatives on community safety on Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Gareth Hall Reply

    Perhaps Dee should have a chat to Katie Bourne the Tory police commissioner for Brighton to see what she can do about crime levels in the city and whilst she’s at it maybe check to see if local tories have been holding any parties ?

    • Martin Burtenshaw Reply

      Gareth Hall
      Okay, did you actually read the whole article ?
      First, if or not the Tories, Labour or greens had parties or not isn’t an important matter here and now.

      Before we even consider talking to Katy Bourne, if you HAD read the article, you would realise the council need to answer the following :

      1) why this Green-Labour council took charge in 2019, it has been implementing policies making Brighton a soft touch on crime and increasingly putting our city out of step with neighbouring councils and the police.

      2) Under this council, failed to renew its PSPOs for parks and public spaces because of “equalities” concerns. It took away a tool that council officers said was having a positive deterrent effect on anti-social behaviour.

      3) Last year the council decided to become the only council in the country to introduce a Homeless Bill of Rights, legitimising begging across the city and making it harder for officers to remove tents from public parks.

      4) Explain why neighbouring councils such as Worthing are taking a more common-sense approach while Labour and the Greens are in effect inviting anti-social behaviour into the centre of Brighton.

      5) Explain why the council declined a chance to apply for a sizeable government grant for better CCTV and lighting in the first round of Safer Streets funding.
      It claimed not to have the capacity to put in an application.
      6) Why the council has given up using the powers that it has at its disposal, with by-laws not being adequately enforced.
      7) It has failed to employ a full complement in its anti-social behaviour unit – the newly created field officers – for long periods.

      8) A reasonable excuse for not repairing broken street lamps for over twelve months.

      Those questions need to be answered, and I won’t accept government cuts as a reply, this council recently announced an underspend so that excuse is out the window.
      To be politically correct, valurnerable people have been attacked and the council should be held partly responsible for their lack of in action, not repairing a light is completely unacceptable in my opinion.

      So come on Gareth, please give us a educated response and defend this incompetent council.

  2. James Reply

    Every time there’s an issue the Conservatives try to claim it’s nothing to do with them. The council is currently made up or 20 Green, 15 Labour, 13 Conservative and 5 Independent councillors. Yes, Conservatives have fewer councillors, but claiming their hands are tied is just ridiculous. And all this opinion piece does is suggest that crime has gone up because of a more compassionate approach to homelessness, there’s no evidence to support it cited here and it’s just what you’d expect from a Tory.

  3. Ren Reply

    It’s not more compassionate to outsource homeless people to die in Newhaven and Eastbourne, but that’s very much a policy of the current Administration. It dumps the most vulnerable people in this City, miles from home, and miles from any support. By this, I mean among other things their doctors and the pharmacies where they get their repeat prescriptions, so they end up buying drugs from dealers, fuelling crime and anti social behaviour in Newhaven and Eastbourne.
    I’m no fan of the Tories, but they are easily outvoted time and again in Brighton and Hove. The other parties slate the Government and cuts and austerity, yet it beggars belief that hundreds of thousands of pounds were on offer and the council couldn’t find the time to put in a bid. I see it has since done so, and succeeded.
    The Greens and Labour blame the Tories for everything, even when they have the power and responsibility. But to call them compassionate towards the homeless is to take their words at face value and to ignore their heartless actions.

  4. Rachel S Reply

    It’s not just women that feel unsafe in the town centre. The situation has become so unpleasant many people of both sexes feel unsafe. Shocking that Brighton council and the police just let junkies congregate and beg everywhere with no thought for the safety of women or tourists that visit.

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