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.
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.