This feature was written using shorthand in order to mix multimedia elements with classic feature writing.
CITIES across the UK fall prey to crime each night as criminals take advantage of nightfall to terrorise innocent communities shaken with fear.
Southampton Locals no longer feel safe in their own homes, the latest crime statistics on Police.UK establish they are right to feel this way. The data shows that Southampton residents are 20% more likely to be a victim of crime compared to similar cities in the UK such as Portsmouth.
You can sense the fear in the people. Online community forums filled with panic over reports of burglaries, anti-social behaviour and citizens held up at gunpoint. Residents are locking sheds, installing light-triggered motion sensors, and having the police dialled at the ready.
In the SO19 postcode area of Southampton covering Thornhill, Itchen, Sholing, and Woolston. The community is taking a stand, creating the SO19 Neighbourhood watch to combat the crime crisis. Nightly and early morning patrols to ward off potential criminals and reporting anything witnessed to the police.
Citizen patrollers protect themselves through group walks, reporting not intervening, and remaining anonymous. “The reason why we started it, the main reason was everyone has been affected by some sort of crime.” Says one of the founders of the SO19 Neighbourhood watch.
The glooming yellow light from lampposts lining the streets barely denting the surrounding pitch-black night, as small groups of patrolling citizens survey the roads and parks, for suspicious activity. Small walks beginning at nightfall and as winter draws near eight pm is as dark as night. The biggest concern for the patrollers? “Weapons” the Founder explained: “I think the weapons now… it’s a worry, we’ve all got kids, they’ve got to grow up on these estates.”
Over 40% of crime in the SO19 area is violent crimes with over one-thousand-two-hundred and sixty-seven reported crimes in this category between November last year and October this year. In comparison to burglaries with only two-hundred and thirty-five total reported crimes.
“What we’ve achieved I think brought the community a bit closer together in terms of people now find it easier to communicate and tell the police when stuffs happening.” The founder made clear, referencing the SO19 Neighbourhood watch Facebook page with ongoing events such as kid patrols and daily reminder posts on locking your car or reporting a crime to 101.
“My first meeting with the police was about a month ago and they were like we’re not getting reported these crimes so to think what we’ve been doing this past month is making a difference… the fact we’re getting people to actually call the police now.”
“We’ve had issues on how some people portray us. As vigilantes” The Neighbourhood watch is determined to step away from this depiction. “their (the police) happy with what we’re doing. They’ve given us a few more tips and they’ve taken a lot of information from us. It’s really positive.”
PM, Boris Johnson has pledged to put 20,000 new police officers across the UK. This pledge would undo the reduction in police numbers since the Conservatives came to power. Between March 2010 and March 2018, the police in England and Wales lost twenty-one thousand-seven-hundred and thirty-two officers according to Home Office figures.
Southampton Itchen conservative candidate and previously elected MP, Royston Smith spoke on the matter at a hustings event on the 28th: “we need more police on the streets now.” Going onto justify the reductions in police numbers as a response to lower crime statistics and clarifying that police are needed now as the number of violent crimes across the country is on the rise.
Southampton Itchen labour candidate, Simon Letts argued: “twenty thousand is a slogan on every piece of conservative literature. You’ve (conservative party) got on rid of twenty thousand experienced officers and going to replace them with brand new people with no training or experience and recruiting officers will be impossible in the short term.”
Southampton residents are frustrated at the failure of the police to act on the rising crime epidemic. Councillor Christopher Hammond spoke on the matter of the number of officers in Southampton in a recent council meeting. Angry at local police and the crime commissioner’s failure to respond to the request made by the councillor for more police officers.
The lack of officers and the rising crime rates has created a demand for more police action, but the unknown capabilities of the future twenty-thousand police officers pledged by the current government leaves many people across the country wondering what next.
SOUTHAMPTON Itchen candidates arrived yesterday to speak with students as the upcoming general election nears closer.
Solent University held the hustings event on the 28th of November to give students the opportunity to question candidates that are running in the upcoming general election with the vote on the 12th.
Candidates from Liberal Democrats, Labour, UKIP, Green Party, and Conservatives answer and discuss with students their aims if elected. Conservative candidate and previously elected MP, Royston Smith said: “infrastructure is needed so the city works, so the economy works.” As well as referring to housing and homelessness explaining a need for estate regeneration.
Simon Letts, labour candidate said: “Everybody that steps out on the streets will see the issue with homelessness which is the tip of homelessness.” explaining the need for investment in mental health and addiction services. Speaking on the environment: “climate change which is a far bigger issue than Brexit.”
Green parties plan to become carbon-neutral by 2030 explained by the candidate, Osman Sen-Chadun was supported by the liberal-democrats. The liberal-democrats New-Forest west candidate and stand-in for candidate Liz Jarvis, Jack Davies said on the matter of Brexit, saying: “Brexit will make us poorer and less influential.”
UKIP candidate, Kim Rose stated: “17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. This isn’t about Brexit it’s about democracy.” Royston stated: “you can remove me from office with a simple cross in a box which you can’t do with the EU.”
ON NOVEMBER 1st, 2019 Southampton’s civic centre home to Southampton city council, sea-city museum, art gallery, and the library opened the city’s historic clock tower to the public to climb the towers two hundred plus steps.
The Tower once referred to as Kimber’s Chimney after the former mayor, Sidney Kimber, who pioneered the building of the Civic Centre created the tower in the aim of being visible around the entirety of the city at the time, however as Southampton has expanded and high-rise developments have been built those aims of the creation of the tower has been undermined.
Tours of the tower run on the first of every month as an opportunity for locals to look at a part of the heritage of Southampton. The tour guide of this event, Nick Baker on the significance of the clock tower he said: “They wanted it to become a focal point as an iconic structure in the city so everybody could always see.”
The learning and Engagement officer at Southampton City Council, Andrew Skinner said on the importance of historical tours like the clock towers: “if you know where you’ve come from, so if you know the stories of the identity of a place then you have a bit more ownership on who you are.”
ON NOVEMBER 9th, Climate activists marched in protest of airport plans to expand its runway requiring twenty-seven trees to be cut down in.
Extension rebellion protesters began the march at Southampton Airport in Marlhill Copse, the woodland for the proposed expansion. Walking to the civic centre containing Southampton city council.
Campaigners stated: “no airport expansion in a climate emergency. Extinction rebellions second demand is carbon neutral by 2025, the science is clear we have to stop the burning of fossil fuels, not increase it. Already the effects of climate change are devastating lives across the planet and if we want to avoid a global temperature of above 1.5 degrees we have to act locally to stand up against big polluters and unsustainable growth.”
Neil Garwood, director of Southampton airport stated in an interview with the BBC: “I agree that Passenger confidence, consumer confidence does seem lower and we are seeing that as far as slightly softer booking scores this year, but I agree as well that infrastructure and investment is critical.”
Councillor Steve Leggett stated on the issue in a council meeting: “When this planning application is made publicly available, we will also be able to scrutinise these documents… we will also take into account comments made by citizens.”