If we were to believe everything we saw on the news or read in the papers, chances are we wouldn’t dare venture past our own front door.
Knife-wielding gangs lurking in dark alleys.
Angel-faced yobs intent on making our lives a misery.
Alcohol-fuelled hooligans creating no-go areas in our town centres.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth because Wigan is a safe place to live. “In fact, ours is the safest borough across Greater Manchester,” says Chief Supt Shaun Donnellan of Greater Manchester Police, Wigan Division.
“Crime on our streets has been consistently falling with overall reductions in burglary, vehicle crime and violent crime. Since 2001/02, total reported crime across the borough has reduced by 45% from 34,761 reported crimes to 19,122 in 2010/11.”
Whilst incidents of serious violent crime make attention-grabbing headlines, our town centres in particular have seen a notable reduction of 42% over the past 3 years in this type of crime.
“In Wigan town centre we have a thriving night time economy, with people travelling from right across the region to visit popular haunts on King Street,” says Cllr Kevin Anderson, Wigan Council’s cabinet champion for safer communities.
“Inevitably, any town centre which attracts up to 20,000 revellers on a typical weekend night will encounter some alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder. But serious incidents of this nature are rare, in no small part due to the way agencies work together.”
So what makes Wigan town centre safer?
There are a number of tools and measures employed by partners to make our town centres safer.
- Operation Dominator is a measure rolled out on Bank Holidays in anticipation of a likely rise in alcohol-fuelled disorder. Visitors to King Street are left in no doubt that policing has been stepped up, with officers using knife arches and wands in a bid to keep the area safe. High visibility patrols in the surrounding area also ensure that trouble isn’t simply displaced to other parts of the town centre.
- Wigan’s award-winning CCTV operation has contributed to the overall reduction in crime across our borough, and plays an important role in crime prevention and detection in our town centres - as well as in boosting public reassurance.
- Practical measures in partnership with pubs and nightclubs, such as the use of polycarbonate glasses and the successful PubWatch scheme, also help to make our town centres safer. Police also regularly visit licensed premises offering advice on regulations around drinks promotions and under-age sales, and to ensure doorstaff and managers are checking for customer identification.
- Powers such as the Section 30 Dispersal Zones and the boroughwide Designated Public Place Order are effective tools in combating alcohol-fuelled disorder and anti-social behaviour. Section 30s give police officers and PCSOs greater powers when dealing with groups congregating in public places and causing a nuisance whilst the DPPO makes it a criminal offence to consume within a designated area.
- Agencies also regularly take part in high profile awareness-raising campaigns. Operation Lockdown highlighted the consequences of alcohol-related violent crime amongst young adults and attracted the support of Wigan Athletic FC manager Roberto Martinez who added his endorsements.
“We believe that prevention is better than cure,” adds Chief Supt Donnellan. “That’s why we work proactively with a range of partners and employ a wide variety of joint measures to nip problems in the bud and stop trouble from escalating.”
For non-emergency calls or to report a crime call police on 101, or for more information visit gmp.police.uk/wigan
Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Use 999 only in emergencies where there is a threat to life or property or a crime in progress.
For more information about crime prevention initiatives in your area, contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team:
To find out about crime in your area, visit the national police crime website (external link)