Alice (one of our members) has now received a reply from Alan Whitehead (which he received from the Community Safety Operations Manager) – it is copied below for you all the read. ‘Reclaim the Common’ is in response to recent attacks on the Common; if you’d like more information, please have a read at the first blog post here.
Dear Mr Whitehead
Thank you for your recent letter highlighting the concerns from a resident about the safety of Southampton Common.
The Common is a safe place in terms of the number of incidents that occur. Unfortunately when something like this most recent incident does happen it hits the headlines and we are given the impression in the media that it is a dangerous place. It is not. This was an isolated incident and not linked to any known series of offences. The Police are still investigating the matter but have not raised any concerns with us over any issues that may impact on general public safety in the area.
Our message when we receive such enquiries is always to refer people to the set of safety messages that we have developed for the Safe City Partnership:
Stay Safe – • Stay alert – be aware of your surroundings
• Keep your valuables out of sight
• Walk in safe, busy well lit places
Safer Nights Out – • Plan a safe journey home
• Stick with your friends
• Watch what you drink and how much
Safer Neighbourhoods – • Report anti – social behaviour – your report will be taken seriously
• Keep a log of incidents
• Be a good neighbour, respect others
Protect Your Possessions – • Keep your home and vehicle locked and secure.
• Keep valuables out of sight.
• Mark and insure valuables
In the case of The Common we encourage people to use well lit and busy places.
There is often the request to install more lighting and more CCTV. These are not the solution to the problem. The main access routes onto The Common are already well lit and existing lighting will be upgraded to the improved white lighting under the PFI project. We do not normally have CCTV in any of our green spaces. The main reason being the fact that they have limited views because of trees and shrubs. Also there is a huge cost associated with the installation of any new cameras. The Police are aware of the incident and they mount regular patrols of the area. Our own staff are always alerted to any such incident and remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity or persons.
The incident referred to is still under investigation and we do not have all of the facts at our disposal.
The media tend to publicise such incidents whether isolated or not and such reporting by default encourages the negative perception that it is unsafe to use our parks and open spaces. We prefer to send out positive messages such as those highlighted above.
I hope this helps.
Community Safety Operations Manager
Southampton City Council
Tel: +44 2380 832779 Mob: 07770703332
I’m not sure about this response as it seems to be kind of denying there is an issue with attacks and blaming the media for reporting them, when I don’t think it has been over-reported at all. Also the most recent attack and others have been in the Cemetery road area which is quite badly lit and well known as dangerous.
Hampshire Constabulary have now issued an e-fit in connection with the indecent assault on the 19th of January – see the Hampshire Police Appeal for more information.
If you think personal safety in public areas is an important issue that needs to be considered urgently, please consider writing to the local MP for the area, Alan Whitehead (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the 3 local councillors, Matthew Claisse (email@example.com), Linda Norris (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Adrian Vinson (email@example.com) to ask what they have to do with this issue and hopefully increase their awareness.
Alice has also set up a running group for members (and interested non-members) who still want to safely enjoy the Common but in a group. More information is available on Facebook.
Do you feel strongly about this issue too? Have you got any good ideas on how we can improve personal safety around Southampton? Please get in touch!