Safe environment for young people in Luton a 'key aim' of new 4-year community safety partnership plan

Downwards trends in several areas of crime – but significant challenges remain for the town
Close-up of an adult talking to a group of teenagers. Picture: Ground Picture/ShutterstockClose-up of an adult talking to a group of teenagers. Picture: Ground Picture/Shutterstock
Close-up of an adult talking to a group of teenagers. Picture: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Enabling young people in Luton to thrive in a safe environment is key to a new four-year plan from the town’s community safety partnership (CSP), a meeting heard.

The current document expires this month, with a new strategy for 2024 to 2028 scheduled to take its place.

Downward trends have been recorded in several areas of crime during the past 12 months, but significant challenges remain.

The Luton CSP undertook a review and analysis of crime and community safety issues across the borough in 2019/20, according to a report to the borough council’s scrutiny crime and disorder committee.

This took into account national and local priorities, trends, the volume and prevalence of incidents, the harm caused to individuals, the economy and the community impact, said the report.

“It identified seven priority areas to focus activity and published a plan for shaping delivery of these themes from 2020 to 2024 around youth offending, extremism, town centre and neighbourhood crime, violence and exploitation, drugs, alcohol and mental health, domestic abuse and reducing reoffending.

“The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 places a statutory duty on the local responsible authorities to formulate a plan to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, tackle drug, alcohol and substance misuse, and cut reoffending.”

Local authority chief executive Robin Porter told the committee: “The delivery period for our four-year plan finishes at end of this month. At the same time, we’ve been preparing our new one under the title ‘Working together to help our community be and feel safe’ for 2024 to 2028.

“Many of the figures in the report are looking incredibly positive. The majority of areas progress has been made and we can see a downward trends in the level of crime.

“That applies to anti-social behaviour, burglary, hate crime, domestic abuse and on-street sexual exploitation. That’s not to say everything in the garden is rosy.

“There has been a substantial increase in graffiti and also litter. We know communities continue to be impacted by criminality. Trust, communication and engagement are absolutely paramount here.

“This is the foundation of our work with the community. We’ve initiated some fresh approaches, including the rapid and sustained response to tackling knife crime and criminal exploitation of young people across the borough.

“Our fairness task force programme has given us a new focus in bringing forward work to address inequality and disproportionality in the criminal justice system.

“In many ways, these steps mark a shift towards the next four years of our partnership and are reflected in the draft of our new plan. We’re also continuing to strengthen our partnership collaboration across the themes.”

Mr Porter recalled community safety portfolio holder councillor Maria Lovell saying at a recent knife crime feedback event ‘if young people in communities in Luton don’t feel safe, they won’t be able to thrive’.

“Working more collaboratively together will help with that crucial work around prevention and early intervention,” he added. “This cooperation is needed to address the social traumas and vulnerabilities which we know so often can drive people towards criminality.”