‘We’re the best’.
That’s the message from a group of community leaders who have rallied together in an effort to keep the north west safe.
It’s a message that’s coming from a lot of places, not just in this part of England, but also in the rest of the country.
The people who come to the North West Counties Sheriff Court, to the community centre or to work, and say: ‘We’ve got the best, we’re the most compassionate, we’ve got no crime, no drugs, no violence.
We’ve got a community we love and we love to be here.’
There are plenty of examples of what they’ve achieved, including the creation of a community drug and alcohol support service, as well as the construction of a new community centre, the first of its kind in the country, in the North Wales town of St George.
They’re all part of a movement, called Project Safe, that has gathered momentum in recent years, with more than 500 people signing up to the campaign.
It began in the south west of England and it’s spreading.
There are people in every part of the north, with different backgrounds, but they all agree on one thing: We need to do something.’
We are not the same’Project Safe, which was launched by the North East Police and Crime Commission, has been joined by hundreds of people across the country who want to see the North-West Counties safe again.
But there’s something very different about what they’re doing.
This is a community initiative that’s been built in the past three years, in conjunction with community organisations, faith organisations and local government.
People are joining because they’re tired of the drug and crime in the area, they’re sick of the people who live in the wrong part of town, they want to get away from it and they want something positive to come out of it.
And for them, this is something that’s different to just joining in on a social cause, this isn’t just about getting together to say “Hey, what can we do to help?”, but this is about saying “This is the right thing to do”.
What makes Project Safe so different from other community policing projects is that they’re all designed around a community’s needs, not the needs of a specific area.
For example, the North North West has been hit by an unprecedented wave of violence in recent months, with the number of deaths and serious injuries rising sharply.
People who live on the South Coast, like myself, know that if you don’t have a safe place to live, you’re going to have a bad time, you’ll be isolated and that’s just not acceptable in the communities we live in.’
You can’t make communities safer’Project Safety is built around the community’s own needs.
They’re not interested in getting involved in policing, because they’ve got their own community needs, and that includes drug and other issues.’
They’ve got to be able to see what’s going on around them, see what happens around them,’ says Detective Chief Inspector Richard Smith, of the North Midlands Police.
And he’s right.
When the North Coast Council began work on a drug and drug dealing unit in the 1990s, it was clear to everyone involved that this would be a hard problem.’
There were lots of drugs and guns in the streets, there was a lot more violence in the community, and I’d say we’re seeing the results of that,’ says Det Chief Inspector Smith.
‘So what we decided was that if we wanted to see any change, we had to take the police to the communities.’
There have been a number of successes in the South West, but many people there say that the current approach is not working.’
The problem with police in the west is, we have no understanding of where people live,’ says one person.
‘We have no idea what their lives are like.
We have no concept of how they live their lives.’
It’s not a place that is open to us.
It’s not open to everyone.’
Project Safer is about creating an environment where the police can’t get involved, so they can focus on what’s really important.’
What’s happening in the region is not just a crime problem, it’s an economic problem.’
That’s what Project Safe is about.
That’s what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself.’
When we say we have to take this community to the centre, we need to create a place where people can be able take their children and their children’s children to and from school, where they can go and see their neighbours, to play, go to the shops, get their kids to the gym, get them a job.’
And what we’re doing is creating an opportunity to give them the opportunity to go to work.’
That’s where they’re going, that’s where we’re going.’The