·  London: 22,236 cases of youth violence and 71,042 reports of anti-social behaviour – in two years
·  Youth Violence: Security-checked Londoners could deter muggers, bullies and child abusers by turning their homes into Canadian style “Safe Houses”
·  Anti-Social Behaviour: Citizen street patrols could help deter street drinking, drugs and vehicle nuisance

There were 22,236 reported cases of youth violence in London between April 2011 and March 2013. 11-14 year olds were victims in over a third (8,213) of these crimes.

A new report, “Home Safe Home”, proposes setting up a pilot of Canadian-style “Safe Houses” in five small communities across the Capital. Under the scheme, local people, who have been security checked and interviewed, could open up their homes to children and older people if they are in trouble.

‘Safe Houses’


Known as “Block Parents”, volunteers would sign up to the scheme at their local police station and go through enhanced security checks. If successful, they would be interviewed at home by the programme, before being given adhesive window signs and placards, with serial numbers and watermarks, so they cannot be replicated or stolen. To ensure safety, local volunteer coordinators would input vital details such as names, addresses, and serial numbers into an online database.

Author of the report, GLA Conservative Assembly Member Andrew Boff, said:

Andrew-opinion“Far too many of our children are victims of senseless violence. Not only do Safe Houses offer a safe place if you are bullied, mugged, followed or attacked, but the prominent signs and placards would act as a deterrent to gangs, muggers and child abusers, who would think twice before committing a crime. I urge the Mayor to pilot this scheme in the Capital. The cost to the public purse is minimal, as demonstrated in Canada, where the bulk of the small cost of recruiting volunteers and producing signage is met by businesses. It’s one way to make our neighbourhoods safer by encouraging closer working between small communities and local police teams.”

Canada has about 25,000 – 30,000 Safe Houses currently. It costs about $1,500 (approximately £820) to recruit 10 Block Parents in a community with 25,000 residents and three primary schools.

Linda Patterson, National President of the Block Parent® Program of Canada, said:

bp_mini_logo"Safe Houses have been a main stay in Canadian Communities for over 45 years. They are a safety net for our children as well as elders. It gives local residents the chance to give something back to their community – without even having to leave their house. Safe Houses are needed even more nowadays in transient cities such as Winnipeg and London, where neighbours don’t know each other like they once did. This programme works best in small communities. My advice is to start in small pockets of London, and gradually grow it, ultimately having individual projects running side by side in different neighbourhoods.”


‘Citizen Patrols’


The report also calls for a pilot of Citizen Patrols to work in partnership with safe houses and local police. Approved and monitored by the police, local volunteers would gather information and intelligence on low level crime such as anti-social behaviour. Citizen Patrols would not replace local policing, but rather act as the eyes and ears of the local community, help deter crime, and allow the police to focus on preventing and investigating crimes.

Between April 2011 and March 2013, the Met received: 3,202 calls about street drinking; 3,515 complaints relating to littering and drugs paraphernalia; 21,844 reports on abandoned vehicles and 42,481 vehicle nuisance complaints – totalling some 71,042 anti-social behaviour related calls.

Author of the report, GLA Conservative Assembly Member Andrew Boff, said:

“Our communities would hugely benefit through joined up working between Citizen Patrols, Safe Houses and local police officers. Everybody wins, people become involved in looking out for their neighbours and community, local police get extra help, and criminals know they can’t get away with violent or loutish behaviour on our streets.”



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Press Coverage




LBC Radio Clip 1: Safe houses in London, Kristen offers her home for a future program;


LBC Radio Clip 2: Safe houses in London, Liam has his life saved by a safe house;