History of Outer North Community Safety Team (ONCST)

The Greater Shantallow community has consistently articulated its problems / concerns and the need for concerted action to address crime, the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour within the area. 

Numerous community audits and studies were carried out in the late 1990’s endorsing a number of broad needs, for example: The Leafair Community Association Audit (1996) surveyed households (120) and this revealed especially complex problems facing young people including alcohol and drug abuse, crime and alienation. The Shantallow Community Residents Association Household Report in 1998 surveyed 537 households and it highlighted the need for, facilities and activities for young people, environmental improvements, locally based training and employment initiatives, the need to control anti-social behaviour often centred around street drinking and more community-based and community-led activities.

GSAP’s ‘Planning for Real’ exercises (May & June 2001) as part of the Community Cohesion Programme consistently highlighted the poor condition of the physical environment especially where crime and vandalism can go unnoticed and the need for a properly integrated network of leisure, park and play facilities.

The Northside Network Health and Social Needs Audit (2001) identified a number of social and health issues impacting on individuals living within our community such as a high level of alcohol use, a high percentage of people suffering from stress and a high number of complaints about joy riding, vandalism and drugs abuse. In the summer of 1999 NIACRO and a number of community organisations carried out a very comprehensive community safety survey audit of the Galliagh area. A survey of some 2000 households was carried out and the findings, along with information from a wide range of agencies and community groups working in the area was published. The report, which ran to almost 70 pages, detailed many of the problems and issues facing those living in the area. A taskforce of statutory and community representatives was convened to scrutinise the report and develop an agreed way forward.  

 The most frequently mentioned concerns in the area include:

Anti-social behaviour by young people                                        (75.2%)

Young people hanging around street corners                               (71.6%)

Underage Drinking                                                                    (68.7%)

Litter                                                                                       (67.2%)

Joyriding (including quads and motorbikes)                                 (60.9%)

Speeding vehicles                                                                      (58.2%)

Vandalism                                                                                 (56.2%)

Graffiti                                                                                      (51.6%)

Under the heading anti-social or nuisance behaviour a number of other issues were mentioned frequently:

  • Dogs roaming around and fouling the streets and greens.
  • Motorbikes, quads speeding over greens and footpaths.
  • Children out late at night.
  • Noisy neighbours.
  • Litter and general appearance of neighbourhood.
  • Verbal abuse from young people.
  • Vandalism of property, hedges, fences etc.  

Crime, the fear of crime and anti-social activity has a significant impact on the health and social well-being of many vulnerable groups in the area, including, the elderly, children, young people and women.  The community safety audit indicated that many of those living in the area believed that levels of crime have increased over recent times. Almost 70% of those surveyed thought anti-social behaviour had become worse to some degree over the past two years.  The net result was elderly people living alone frightened and isolated, women afraid or nervous of walking in certain parts of the estate and children at risk from drug taking or speeding vehicles.

 

 

Key Community Safety Issues

 

The issues contained in the table below represented feedback from the research carried out and highlighted people’s perceptions of what the community safety issues were facing the Outer North area. These were not listed in any order of importance; rather it was a reflection of the engagement that took place. 

 

Key Community Safety Issues

Anti-social Behaviour

  • Joyriding & runabouts – still a problem although not as bad as in the past
  • Under-age drinking
  • Attacks on emergency services
  • Fireworks
  • Stray dogs & dog fouling
  • Nuisance type behaviour – eg throwing mud at houses, throwing stones, breaking & burning fences, stealing & burning wheelie bins

Young People

  • Lack of facilities for young people
  • Not enough youth workers
  • Safety among young people – abuse, mental health, drugs & alcohol
  • All programmes are short-term interventions – no-one takes a longer term approach to working with young people
  • Current provision may not even be sustained
  • Large congregations of young people – creates fear within the local community

Parenting

  • Shortage of positive role models
  • Parenting skills appear to be lacking
  • Parents should be held accountable for the actions of their children

Fear of Crime

  • People are afraid in their own homes
  • People do not feel safe to walk alone after dark

Criminality

  • Burglaries are perceived to be common – particularly amongst d at older people
  • Crime still goes unreported
  • Thefts – particularly of home heating oil

PSNI

  • Lack of confidence and trust locally in the PSNI
  • PSNI need to prove that they can deliver within the local area – need to make a real difference to people’s lives
  • Have limited resources which limits their ability to deliver
  • Experiences of PSNI responses to reported incidents have not always been positive
  • Keen to get involved with the local community
  • People are unaware of how to report incidents to the police
  • Speed and accuracy of response need to be examined
  • Some people will never use the PSNI
  • There is a lack of understanding of how the PSNI operates

Education

  • Low literacy levels and underachievement in school

Environment

  • Use of green spaces e.g. quads
  • Littering, fly tipping and burning of rubbish
  • Poor street lighting
  • Graffiti
  • Vandalism
  • Vacant houses – fear may be used as drinking spots & gathering points

Paramilitaries

  • Still some activity in some areas 
  • Carrying out a policing role on certain issues e.g. drug dealing
  • Support remains for some paramilitary organisations

Self-esteem

  • People have low levels of self-respect – reflected through how they treat themselves, others and the local environment
  • Morale of local community is very low
  • Unemployment and lack of opportunity has a direct impact on how people view themselves and their area

Geographical Area

  • Outer North covers a large geographical area – difficult to have an impact on specific issues
  • Some areas are not covered by already limited services
  • Lack of social facilities – most people leave the area to socialise

Domestic Violence

  • Often goes unreported to police or other agencies

Resources

  • Community resources may be lost, including the knowledge and expertise held by workers

Population

  • Large population to service
  • There is a young population within the area which generally is not provided for

 

To address the above needs and concerns a Galliagh Community Safety Action Plan was developed. The plan contained 11 objectives with approximately 30 separate actions. The employment by GSAP of a Community Safety Co-ordinator through funding secured under the Community Foundation NI ‘Investing for Healthier Communities’ programme in 2001 was pivotal to the implementation of the plan. The work of the Community Safety Coordinator included:

  • Acting as a contact point for local residents regarding safety issues.
  • Assisting in the development and promotion of effective community dispute mechanisms.
  • Offering advice and support on safety issues.
  • Liaising with the Community Safety Team.

 

In early 2000’s, ONCST played an integral role in the development of a range of community safety initiatives including;

 

  • the set up of Good Morning Galliagh,
  • the installation of  additional security equipment to 72 dwellings in the Galliagh area,
  • the set up of a show house in Galliagh in which we installed a range home/child security devices and opened it for two days for local residents,
  • Off the Streets Initiative ‘Dusk till Dawn’ programme that offered young people out door activities conducted by qualified instructors between the hours of 10pm and 3am on Friday nights.
  • The set up of the Galliagh Youth Forum
  • The ‘Other Side of Galliagh’ video project produced by the Nerve Centre in conjunction with the Greater Shantallow Community Arts and the young people of Galliagh. The aim of the video was to show a more positive side of the community from which the young people come.
  • Held Emergency Service Visits to the Community for young people to witness for  themselves exactly the benefit of these services, the terrific work the emergency services do and how important it is for the services to come into areas without any interruptions.
  • Return Unwanted Medicine campaign led by Galliagh Womens Group which volunteers delivered envelopes to homes for the householder to empty the contents of the unwanted medicines and return to the local pharmacy. 
  • Summer Diversionary Project supported by WELB. The target group were young people who did not normally take part in any other summer activities. Most had never been outside the area and had never had experience of the activities outlined in the scheme eg. Team building, canoeing, bowling, quad bike and archery. The program ran in the month of August each year when young people had nothing else to do and to provide an alternative to hanging around the streets with little or nothing else to do.
  • The need to resolve community disputes was also a priority therefore in conjunction with Community Restorative Justice Group, accredited mediation and conflict resolution training for participants who deal with complaints on a daily basis was undertake.
  • Installation of welcoming signs into both entrances into the galliagh estate,
  • Poster and media campaigns to educate the community on various safety issues eg.Drugs, Bonfires, Dog Fouling, Home security, Personal Security etc
  • Community Murals by young people to remove graffiti
  • Bring the Dogs Trust into area to offer free neutering and chipping to dog owners.

In 2003, the ONCST led by GSAP submitted a funding bid to the NIO Community Safety Unit so to continue the work of the Community Safety Co-ordinator/warden and new ways of working for the next three years so as to enhance the safety of the people living within in the area.

In summer 2007 project came to an end and Holywell Consultancy were appointed to complete an evaluation report. See Holywell Consultancy Report oncstevaluationreport2008.doc

Following recommendations emanating from the Outer North Neighbourhood Action Plan (March 2007) and subsequent Community Safety Positional Paper (Holywell Consultancy 2008), the Outer North Community Safety Team was re-established in December 2009.The Outer North Community Safety Team (ONCST) was reestablished primarily to discuss the community safety needs of the Outer North NRA and how these needs could be addressed through collective action. 

In addition, it has been agreed that only issues identified as requiring collaborative partnership working would be brought to the ONCST table, so that those who are best placed can address them