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High visibility “policing”

ABOUT THESE GUIDES led, problem-oriented approach backed up by an effective

performance management system is vital.
This is one in a series of guides designed to share ideas for
tackling vandalism and other forms of criminal damage. They To maximise the evidence-base, it is important that
are based, as far as possible, on examples we have found people are encouraged to report incidents of vandalism in
from around the UK and further afield. Although in most cases their local area. However, reporting levels for vandalism
these have not been rigorously evaluated, they are reported to are low so maintaining good relations with the local
have been successful in tackling this sort of crime. community can help to augment the evidence-base and
identify what issues are causing local people the greatest
This guide covers high visibility policing – taking a wide
definition of the term policing. Other guides already produced
in this series cover: The North Wales Police encourage open communication
• tackling vandalism and other criminal damage; and two-way dialogue between senior officers and
• tools and powers for tackling criminal damage; delivery staff to gauge each others concerns and
• environmental approaches ; and
opinions. In addition, senior officers frequently visit
officers on the beat and assess how effectively resources
• tackling youth vandalism.
are being directed in the fight against crime. This strategy
Further guides are in preparation including on arson, criminal also enables the police to ensure that police community
damage to vehicles and analysing criminal damage data. If support officers and neighbourhood wardens are well
there are any other subjects you would like covered, or if you tasked.
have any comments on these guides please send them to us
via your regional Government Office or the Welsh Assembly
Government. POLICE
In addition to powers of arrest, the Police have recourse
WHAT IS VANDALISM / CRIMINAL DAMAGE? to other penalties that are especially usefully in the fight
against criminal damage. These include:
Criminal damage refers to crimes where any person without • Fixed Penalty Notices of £50 for minor graffiti and
lawful excuse intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages fly posting to individuals aged 10 years and over
any property belonging to anotheri. Activities resulting in non-
• Penalty Notices for Disorder of £80 to those aged
permanent damage (i.e. that can be rectified, cleaned off or
16 years and over for destroying or damaging
removed at no cost) such as letting down of car tyres should
property that is valued at under £500.
not be classed as criminal damage, nor should accidental
damage. A more comprehensive and detailed list of the penalties
and powers in relation to vandalism can be found in the
Any damage around a point of entry to a house or vehicle
accompanying guide ‘Tools and powers for tackling
should be treated as attempted burglary / vehicle crime rather
criminal damage’:
than criminal damage if, on the balance of probabilities, one of
those crimes is the more likely offence than criminal damageii. In March 2005, as part of Northumbria Police’s
Vandalism is the term used in the British Crime Survey. Whilst ‘Operation Odin’ – a mixture of hard-hitting enforcement
the definition has been kept as close as possible to that of and education campaigns – 48 arrests were made, 104
criminal damage, it only covers crimes against households and fixed penalty notices issued, and 76 letters were delivered
household property, including cars. to the parents of young people stopped by the police. In a
separate operation the police and licensing officers visited
POLICING a number of pubs in the area, and a pub with underage
drinkers was closed. This strict approach led to a
High visibility policing – by police officers, police community decrease in alcohol related disorder, which, in turn, has
support officers, neighbourhood or street wardens, or others – led to a reduction in vandalism in Gateshead. Moreover,
can act as an effective deterrent to potential vandals, as well relationships with local residents have improved.
as being a reassurance to the public. It is, however, resource
intensive so, to be most cost-effective, needs to be well-
targeted at the main hot-spots and times. Taking an evidence-

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In Bexley, London, about £100,000 of criminal damage was POLICE COMMUNITY SUPPORT OFFICERS
caused to Welling School over 2 years. All the partners Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) provide a
involved agreed to the police team having an office in the visible and uniformed presence in the community, directly
school as the long-term solution. The police at the school also helping the police to tackle criminal behaviour, and freeing
set up activities, such as simulation police training, and a up police officers from some of the time spent on routine
young persons’ film-making club, which gives young people tasks. Moreover, they provide a valuable service in
the chance to make films tackling real issues affecting their reassuring the local community.
lives and communities. Moreover, the school hosts regular
meetings with local residents to ensure that concerns can be In relation to vandalism, PCSOs can be particularly useful
raised and addressed in an open manner. Vandalism and anti- in:
social behaviour has virtually been eradicated in the school, • attending incidents of low-level disorder and anti-
and complaints from local residents about people being on social behaviour;
school grounds outside school hours have stopped. Staff and • dealing with community issues such as littering and
pupil morale has increased. dog fouling;
• reporting and removing abandoned vehicles;
With their expertise in crime reduction, the police are also well • gathering evidence through observation;
placed to help address the underlying causes of criminal • speaking to young people who might be drunk and
behaviour. Safer Schools Partnership (SSP) Officers can help causing problems, confiscating alcohol and tobacco,
deliver law and order education as part of the citizenship if necessary; and
curriculum, whilst police in areas without SSPs can engage in • assisting the police with recording names and
local schools and youth inclusion projects by giving talks or addresses or door-to-door enquiries.
holding workshops. Such initiatives also assist in developing
stronger relations between the police and the local community, Some PCSOs – depending on their role – are given police
particularly young people. powers. Those most relevant to vandalism include issuing
fixed penalty notices, and the ability to detain an individual
Operation Mullion: Mayfield School in Portsmouth suffered for up to 30 minutes – enabling them to obtain back-up
from serious anti-social behaviour and was considered a from a police officer.
magnet for criminal activity. In the year before the initiative
started, the police spent approximately £18,000 investigating In Gateshead, there was a lack of communication
crimes at the school, whilst the school itself spent over £20,000 between the residents of Nest Estate and the local
in repairs. Operation Mullion set out a series of long and short agencies, as well as a lack of community confidence. A
term interventions to give students responsibility for introducing multi-agency response from all agencies was undertaken,
crime reduction strategies, and improving partnerships including a high level presence from police community
between public agencies. After 12 months the project achieved support officers, clean up operations and housing
reductions of 42% in police attendance; 100% in criminal inspections. A large amount of information regarding
damage, mobile phone thefts, and vehicle crime; residents’ concerns was gathered, and enforcement
approximately £9,225.00 in police investigation costs; and 42% action was undertaken against a number of households
in student exclusions. on the estate. Moreover, relationships have been
improved with local residents and the front line services,
In Kent, the Safer Schools Partnership was set up in 1998. including the police, PCSOs and the housing company.
The police monitor security in and around schools, and have
encouraged students to identify, design and lead the
development of approaches to deal with crime and safety
issues. Moreover, training and support is given to schools that Neighbourhood or street wardens provide a highly visible,
want to develop integrated peer-led approaches to deal with uniformed, semi-official presence in residential and public
bullying, vandalism, racism, and drugs. Whilst reducing crime areas, town centres and high-crime areas. Their overall
and nuisance in and around schools, this approach also purpose is to improve quality of life and contribute to the
reduced truancy and school exclusions; improved the regeneration of an area.
perceptions of young people in the local community; and
Many schemes have systems that enable wardens to
helped prepare them to engage in decision-making processes.
report instances of vandalism and graffiti to the relevant
Between 1998 and 2000, incidents of vandalism in and around
authorities. Some neighbourhood wardens themselves
schools in Kent decreased by 63%.
are responsible for cleaning up minor incidents of
vandalism – for example, over 2 days the Wyre Forest

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Community Housing Scheme’s Wardens dealt with 216 In Birmingham, the city centre warden team is working
incidents. with Connexions to help prevent young people committing
A national evaluation of the Neighbourhood Wardens Scheme crimes over the school holidays. A ‘Big Brother’ service
found that there has been a 28% decline in the overall rate of was set up to encourage young people and their parents
crime in warden areas, compared with a 5% increase in the to talk about their perceptions of the city, and how they
comparator areas (residents’ survey evidence). This is could be made to feel more part of it. Moreover, youth
significant because residents in warden areas are often at a outreach workers have offered guidance and support from
higher risk of becoming a victim of crime than the national a series of mobile units around the city. Wardens used
average. vouchers and tickets to encourage young people to begin
talking to them about their views and the issues they
The evaluation identified four key elements of successful and faced. One positive consequence was that the perception
sustainable neighbourhood warden schemes: of wardens changed from being law enforcers, to a
• Employing people with good interpersonal skills; valuable and approachable source of community
• Tailoring approaches to local problems – many schemes information and support.
organise clean up campaigns with young people and visit
schools, in addition to providing information and
assistance to groups in the community that are particularly NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH
The police and the local community need to work together
• Strong and effective partnerships;
to tackle criminal damage. Neighbourhood Watch is a
• Good scheme management. partnership that enables local people to help make their
Since 2001, neighbourhood wardens in Gorton, Manchester, communities safer by liaising with the police and other
have run the ‘On the Streets’ Project, which focuses on local agencies. It brings people together to protect
breaking down barriers between young people and the themselves and their properties, to reduce the fear of
wider community. It provides a forum to engage young crime and improve their local environment.
people who have been perceived as causing a nuisance, The existence of a Neighbourhood Watch scheme can
enabling them to discuss their problems and at the same time deter certain criminal behaviours. If a crime is committed
instilling a sense of community responsibility. Leisure activities it is often best to observe calmly and discreetly, to provide
are provided as a reward for positive interactions in the the best chance of registering and reporting what is seen
community, such as ‘clean up’ campaigns and improving quickly and accurately.
gardens. In addition, education is provided on various issues
important to young people including sexual health, alcohol / The partnership aspect of Neighbourhood Watch
drugs awareness and bullying. Organisers of community schemes is an important means of making police and
events increasingly invite along young people from the project, local authorities aware of residents’ concerns. Frequent
showing that greater community understanding is being communication between partners is essential to motivate
developed. members and keep schemes active.
2005 ‘Taking A Stand Award’ winners
Joined-up approaches, which have the support of the public,
tend to more effective crime fighting than agencies working • Carol Sutton, Oldbury, organised a Neighbourhood
alone. Therefore, if groups concerned with tackling vandalism Watch scheme that identified the ten youths that were
– and promoting safer communities more generally – liaise at the centre of a gang that terrorising her estate.
effectively with each other they can share expertise and Two of them were given ASBOs, and three others
understanding, and co-ordinate their activities. Neighbourhood went to prison. Her £1,000 award money provided the
and street wardens, and police community support officers, in local Neighbourhood Watch scheme with radio links.
particular, are well placed to act as a valuable link between the • Bob Stradling, Southmead Estate, Bristol, helped the
police and local residents. police shut down a crack house associated with large
amounts of graffiti and smashed glass. He organised
his neighbours to make statements to the police, and
negotiated with BT to stop incoming calls to a public
telephone box that was being used for drug drop-offs.
He ploughed his award back into Neighbourhood

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In Flintshire, Neighbourhood Watch has been active in In Bloomsbury, an internet-based local community
engaging all generations in the fight against crime, the fear of network for reporting, tracking, and combating nuisance
crime and anti-social behaviour. Since 2004, Neighbourhood behaviour has been developed by the chair of the
Watch and the local police have planned and coordinated a resident’s association, the police, and Camden Council.
series of “Community Safety Surgeries” to gauge the concerns ‘CommunityAlert Bloomsbury’ allows a local person to
of residents. They have reactivated interest in Neighbourhood report and get local action on persistent (non-emergency)
Watch, which has led to the development of a substantial anti-social behaviour. Reporting is anonymous, and
number of new schemes, as well as increasing the activity of reports are passed on by the CommunityAlert Co-
existing ones. These surgeries also highlighted that young ordinator to the local police – thereby allowing people to
people had their own safety concerns, which resulted in them feel that they are not wasting police time. Moreover, the
being involved in a number of campaigns about crime, safety system provides practical information and on-line
and the local environment. Activities such as these, which resources on how to approach and solve local crime and
involve the participation of a number of different groups, help to quality-of-life concerns; and links the community with legal
restore faith in the community, and encourage people to take and other services which are able to assist them. The
action to improve their locality. result has been a decline in anti-social behaviour, and the
system is being expanded to cover other areas of
Vandalism and graffiti can reduce the quality of life in a
community if not dealt with quickly and effectively. If it remains NEED MORE HELP?
unaddressed it can encourage further incidents of vandalism,
Further information and assistance on tackling criminal
and further increase fear of crime.
damage is also available via your regional Government
Moreover, a large number of young people interviewed claim Office / Welsh Assembly Government or from:
that, with few crimes reportediii, they were not scared of being
i) Crime Reduction website (
caught – therefore it is important that people are encouraged to
report crimes of vandalism so that action can be taken against ii) Together Academies which bring together
the perpetrators. practitioners to provide advice and training on
specific issues to transform the way that they tackle
To increase the reporting rate:
anti-social behaviour.
• A single contact number in the local authority / police,
which can be easily identified, makes reporting of less iii) ASB Action Days when an expert practitioner will
serious crimes much easier. meet with ASB teams and their partners to help find
• Local agencies should make it clear that this crime is solutions to intractable problems, refocus action to
worth reporting. get results, encourage use of the full range of new
• Local agencies should follow up queries quickly and anti-social behaviour powers or remove blockages
efficiently and, if possible, inform the person who reported that are preventing progress.
the incident that action is being taken. This will lead to iv) ASB Action Line (0870 220 2000) and website
increased confidence in the way police and other agencies ( which provide information,
respond to reports of criminal damage. solutions and best practice to help practitioners tackle
anti-social behaviour.
v) Overseas websites such as the International Centre
for the Prevention of Crime (http://www.crime-; the Center for
Problem-Oriented Policing (; and
the National Criminal Justice Reference Service

i Criminal Damage Act 1971 Section 1

ii Home Office Counting Rules for Recorded Crime
iii The BCS estimates that less than a third are reported to the police

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