NEWS: Public Space Protection Order finally back on Erdington High Street

Words & pics by Ed King

After years of campaigning, Erdington High Street and the surrounding streets are now back under a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) – giving local law enforcement greater powers in tackling street crime, drinking, and anti-social behaviour.

Following a combined effort from the Erdington Business Improvement District (BID), Erdington Ward Councillors Robert Alden and Gareth Moore, and members of the North Local Partnership Delivery Group (LPDG) – working alongside West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council – Erdington’s PSPO was finally approved and back in operation from Monday, 16 May.

Brought in under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, a PSPO allows local police teams to forcibly remove anyone from the ‘Restricted Area’ they suspect are intoxicated, behaving aggressively, or causing problems for other people – without an official crime being reported.

Starting on the corner of Oakfield and Wood End Road, the PSPO for Erdington covers from Orchard Road and across Sutton New Road – encompassing Abbey Catholic Primary School and Highclare School – then back up Summer Road to Six Ways Island and Erdington High Street.

With the previous PSPO running out in 2018, many residents, businesses, and constituency stakeholders have been championing to have it reinstated.

The latest application being submitted in December 2021, following a period where objections against the order could be heard.

But despite seeming to be a unified ambition, there have historically been some objections against the PSPO in Erdington which stymied the process of reinstating the order.

Several reasons for the four year delay have been suggested, with Terry Guest, Erdington Town Centre Manger, previously telling Erdington Local:

“There’s a few stories about why it hasn’t been renewed. One is that someone objected on the grounds that the PSPO included beggars, and there was an objection against the human rights of beggars – because initially the order included the removal of beggars off the High Street.

“No one should be homeless, and we’ve done quite a lot of work with the police and their partners in helping people who are homeless.

“There’s another aspect to this and that’s professional begging, where people aren’t homeless, aren’t poor, and are begging on the High Street as a crime basically.”

Policing across the West Midlands has been slashed since 2010, with the regionwide budget losing £175m over the last 12 years. Over 2200 police officers have been lost, including around half of all officers allocated to neighbourhood and community policing.

With policing resources stretched and response teams taking priority, many have felt the PSPO would give much needed support to those officers still patrolling Erdington High Street.

However, even after the PSPO was passed at the end of 2021 the order still required Birmingham City Council to install signage before it could be enforced – which took nearly another six months.

Special training for local business owners was also needed from West Midlands Police, working alongside the Erdington Street Warden, Erdington Street Pastors, and private businesses security staff.

Following the eventual reinstalment of the PSPO last month, Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden said:

“We’re disappointed it has taken as long as this to get the signage up and training in place – for the zone to be enforceable it requires signs to go up on lampposts and training to be provided by the police, which we needed to get the Council to implement.

“But it’s now really positive that everything’s in place, and Gareth (Moore) and I have been working with the Erdington BID and the police to make sure that got moving.

“Now the police can start enforcing it (the PSPO) and hopefully it will lead to a safer High Street for people to be able to enjoy spending their time and shopping on.”

NEWS: Public Space Protect Order hopes to curb anti-social behaviour in Erdington

Words by Ed King

An application is underway for a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in Erdington, giving local police the power to forcibly remove anyone from the ‘Restricted Area’ they suspect is intoxicated or causing anti-social behaviour.

Starting on the corner of Oakfield/Wood End Road, the ‘Restricted Area’ continues down to and up Orchard Road – cuts across Sutton New Road, embracing Abbey Catholic Primary School and Highclare School, then comes back up Summer Road to Six Ways Island.

If successful, the application would see a PSPO come into force on 20 December 2021 – just in time for Christmas and the New Year, when alcohol related and street crime is often known to soar. If enforced the PSBO would run for three years, staying in place until 19 December 2024.

Public consultation is currently being sought, with any ‘interested person’ invited to appeal against the order via the Birmingham Be Heard website by 19 December. An ‘interested person’ is defined as ‘someone who lives in, regularly works in, or visits the restricted area’.

Full details of the PSPO application for Erdington, alongside a place to comment or appeal, can be found here: www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/place/erdington-public-space-protection-order-consultati/

Led by the North Local Partnership Delivery Group (LPDG), the application for a PSPO in Erdington is seen by many constituency stakeholders as an essential step to help clean up the High Street and encourage public safety.

Policing across the West Midlands has suffered cuts of £175m since 2010, resulting in the loss of over 2200 police officers – including 50% of all allocated to community policing. The lack of uniformed officers on patrol has often been cited as the reason anti-social behaviour and street crimes started to spike.

Erdington previously held a PSPO which ran out in 2018, with many questioning why it was not immediately reinstated.

Terry Guest, Erdington Town Centre Manger, explained: “Now, there’s a few stories about why it hasn’t been renewed. One is that someone objected on the grounds that the PSPO included beggars, and there was an objection against the human rights of beggars – because initially the order included the removal of beggars off the High Street.

“It’s a bit of a contentious issue because one of the things I’ve been working with the police with is to help anyone begging if they’re homeless.

“No one should be homeless, and we’ve done quite a lot of work with the police and their partners in helping people who are homeless.

“There’s another aspect to this and that’s professional begging, where people aren’t homeless, aren’t poor, and are begging on the High Street as a crime basically.”

Jack Dromey MP for Erdington recently joined the Erdington Street Pastors and West Midlands Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, on a tour of Erdington High Street.

When asked about the application for a PSPO in the area he told Erdington Local: “I strongly support the reintroduction of a PSPO, I strongly support it. There’s no question of it, one of the problems here on the High Street is street drinking and sometimes the bad behaviour that goes with that.

“Now there is an issue in relation to often vulnerable people who congregate here, therefore there needs to be support for those people to divert them from behaving badly in our community.

“Having said that I’ve just seen earlier today an incident with four people, one of who was clearly drunk – and this is 10am – who blocked the pavement and there was woman trying to get by with her buggy and they wouldn’t let her get by.

“Now that kind of behaviour is absolutely not acceptable, so clamping down on street drinking I think is an essential part in making people feel safe about coming to their High Street.”

As Erdington Ward Councillors, Robert Alden and Gareth Moore have been championing the fight to get a Public Space Protection Order restored in Erdington ever since the previous one expired without the Council renewing it.

Cllr Alden, who is also Director and Vice Chair of Erdington Business Improvement District, said:

“Sadly the Council had not been acting with the urgency required to get the PSPO back in place in Erdington, despite all the efforts of the local Police and BID in providing evidence.

“Therefore, we have been demanding the Council get this moving and recently brought the Chief Executive down to Erdington High Street to meet with the BID, local police team and ourselves to discuss the need for the Erdington PSPO and the need for the Council to work with the Erdington community to help make our High Street safer.

“Thankfully following this visit and meetings with senior officers from Community Safety in the Council we have managed to get the consultation launched for reintroducing the PSPO”.

Cllr Moore added: “We have worked with the Police to also get the area the new PSPO will cover enlarged so that it can help tackle areas of concern in wider Erdington as well, for example down Station Road and Church Road.

“It is vital that residents now take part in the consultation supporting the PSPO for Erdington so that it can be approved to commence before Christmas and help keep residents safe.

“Thank you to the efforts of local Police, Town Centre Manager and businesses for working with us to help force the Council to finally get the consultation launched”.

For more on the application for a PSBO in Erdington visit www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/place/erdington-public-space-protection-order-consultati/

NEWS: West Midlands Crime Commissioner celebrates ‘fantastic job’ by Erdington Street Pastors

Words & pics by Ed King

On Saturday 13 November, the Erdington Street Pastors were joined on their morning patrol by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster – walking with the team up and down Erdington High Street.

Celebrating the efforts of the Street Pastors, Simon Foster told Erdington Local: “My message to the Street Pastors is that they’re doing a fantastic job on Erdington High Street.

“I think it’s a brilliant initiative and I’ve been very pleased to support it as Police and Crime Commissioner.

“It really does help the neighbourhood police teams; helping them prevent crime, protect people, and ensuring that vulnerable people are kept safe.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey, who also joined the Street Pastors and Simon Foster on patrol and talking to people on Erdington High Street, added: “The Street Pastors reassure the local community that the High Street is a welcoming place that they can go to.

“As Simon (Foster) has said, they reach to and put their arms around sometimes some of the most vulnerable in our community who have fallen through the net and as a consequence of which sometime behave badly.”

A global initiative, Street Pastors are currently active in over 240 cities and town across the UK – including 20 in the West Midlands alone. Twelve Street Pastors have been patrolling Erdington High Street since their ‘commissioning’ on Saturday 18 September.

Working with the police and local community leaders/groups, the Street Pastors help tackle issues around anti-social behaviour and public disturbances, whilst offering a friendly face for anyone who needs help or just wants to talk.

Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim is lead pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Erdington and Chair of the Erdington Street Pastors, who joined with churches across Erdington to bring the inititive to the area.

An active Street Pastor himself, Pastor Rasaq led the Saturday morning team on patrol with Simon Foster and Joack Dromey. He told Erdington Local: “It’s greta to have Simon (Foster) join us on patrol in Erdington, he has been humbly walking with us for two hours – meeting popel and seeing what we do.

“Erdington Street Pastor have been well supported by the West Midlands Crime Commissioner’s office and we look forward to building on that partnership.”

But since 2010 the West Midlands has had £175m pulled from its policing budget, seeing a drop of over 2000 police officers – around 25% of those in active service, and over 50% allocated to community policing..

Recently re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the region, Simon Foster has put this top of his agenda.

He added: “My key campaign pledge is to rebuild community policing in the West Midlands because I think dismantling it was a big mistake; it was counterproductive, it’s a false economy

“It’s really important that we have community initiatives like the Street Pastors, like Neighbourhood Watch, like Street Watch, Speed Watch, Street Wardens, all of those different projects play a really important role in providing that help, reassurance, and support to local communities.”

A very real concern for many across Erdington, Jack Dromey has been hearing about street safety from local residents during sessions at his surgery.

He explained: “If you lose 2000 police officers, if you lose so much of the social fabric that diverts young people from crime, what you see as day follows night is a rising crime and that’s wrong.

“Time, and time, and time again I get people who come to my surgery – people I’ve met today on the High Street here with Simon (Foster) – who say, at the most extreme, we’re afraid to go out at night, we no longer feel comfortable in our community, on our High Street. That is absolutely and fundamentally wrong.”

For more information about the Erdington Street Pastors and to see if you can get involved email Pastor Rasaq at chair.erdington@streetpastors.org.uk

For more on the Street Pastors initiative visit www.streetpastors.org

NEWS: Stockland Green to get £432,000 anti-crime investment from Government’s Safer Streets Fund

Words by Adam Smith

CCTV and other anti-crime measures will be installed in Stockland Green after a £432,000 grant from the Government’s Safer Streets Fund.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner and Birmingham City Council applied for the money after a rise in crime in Stockland Green attributed to increased exempt housing in the area.

As well as CCTV, improved lighting, and security gates, the money will be used to clamp down on burglary, robbery, and vehicle theft.

The Government promised more funding will be available to target changing the behaviour of some men, so women and girls feel safer.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said:

“After years of essential preventative public services being starved of funding it is good to see we’ve been able to secure some additional money to make small, but not insignificant, improvements to our streets.

“We know there are simple things that can be done to prevent crime and, working with the council, we intend to use this money to do them.

“We’ll tighten security where we think it can be tighter and make sure CCTV is fitted in crime hotspots.”

Councillor John Cotton, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “This is very welcome news and will be a real boost to our efforts to tackle anti-social behaviour and support the community.

“The Council will be working closely with residents, the PCC, and the police to make sure this extra money helps to deliver a safer neighbourhood for everyone who lives or works in Stockland Green.”

Erdington MP Jack Dromey welcomed the cash injection after constituents complained about the changing nature of Stockland Green, blaming a mushrooming number of HMOs on the increase in anti-social behaviour and crime.

He said: “I have been contacted by numerous constituents who are worried, many say they do not feel safe in their local area.

“Securing almost half a million pounds from the Safer Streets Fund will help protect local communities from crime by funding the installation of additional street lighting to deter criminals and the fitting of CCTV in problem areas so we are able to catch those committing crimes to ensure they are brought to justice.”

He added: “I’d like to pay tribute to West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council and local campaigners who have worked hard to secure this funding that will improve the lives of residents in Stockland Green.”

For the latest news from West Midlands Police visit www.west-midlands.police.uk/news