South Tyneside residents urged to make their voices heard

13/09/2010

Residents in South Tyneside have been reminded they play a crucial role in helping tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

A unique event staged earlier today at South Shields Town Hall stressed the importance of communities making their voices heard, letting the criminal justice system know about local problems and issues.

Around seventy people attended the event, organised by Safer South Tyneside and Northumbria Crown Prosecution Service and supported by Northumbria Police and the other criminal justice agencies.

Called "Your Neighbourhood, Your Voice," residents were invited to explore the most effective ways of ensuring they are listened to.

Wendy Williams, Northumbria Chief Crown Prosecutor said: "Every community has its own identity and its own set of issues. That's why this event was an important opportunity for us to stress that we need to understand community concerns and whether there's more that we can do to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. No-one knows a neighbourhood better than the people who live in it.

"For us to be an effective prosecution service, we must be in tune with local opinion and work with the police to deal with local concerns. The charging decisions we make daily affect more than just the person who commits the crime, but also the victim, the victim's family and friends, and the wider community."

Acting Chief Superintendent John Chappell said: "The views of our communities have always been important to us and our officers regularly engage with residents to hear their opinions, issues and concerns.

"This event was an excellent opportunity to hear how the public would like to be consulted with in the future by all agencies involved. We are determined to provide the best possible policing service to the people of South Tyneside and building trust and confidence in our communities along with our partners.

"Through public consultation, we get to hear what people think which will influence and shape our future activity in South Tyneside."

Councillor Joanne Bell, South Tyneside Council's Lead Member for Innovation and Safer and Stronger Communities, who chaired the event, said: "Crime and anti social behaviour has a negative impact on communities and seriously affects the quality of life for residents.

"It's important that local people have a strong voice when it comes to driving down crime and disorder effectively. This event offered them an opportunity to meet with the agencies involved and put forward suggestions on the most effective ways of getting their voices heard and tell us what we could be doing better.

"Talking and listening to residents also helps us to get a better understanding of the issues of concern in their communities and to develop a more co-ordinated approach to tackling them. By working together we can bring about real improvements in people's quality of life in neighbourhoods across the Borough."