One in three feel unsafe

ALTHOUGH figures have improved, new research shows that a third of people still do not feel safe on the streets after dark.

A Mori poll found that 13 per cent of residents feel “very unsafe” and 21 per cent “fairly unsafe” in the evenings.

Street lighting, groups of intimidating youths gathering at off-licences and other hotspots, along with perceptions about police presence, were cited by residents as reasons for their fears.

The statistics were gathered from more than 2,600 people around the borough, which has been hailed as one of London’s safest.

Last year, the borough won beacon status in the after dark category of a government-run award scheme for creating a safer environment in Romford.

Harold Hill Cllr Denis O’Flynn says perceptions of safety often affect the elderly.

He said: “We have a high number of people in their 60’s in Harold Hill and quite a few in their 80’s. And after they get home in the evening nothing is going to get them out again.

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“The three things that often get thrown at me are the lack of street lighting, CCTV cameras and community policing.

“People say they don’t see many police around after 5pm, when they should be starting then.”

The figures have improved slightly on last year’s when 14 per cent of people felt “very unsafe” and 23 per cent “fairly unsafe”.

One 76-year-old, from Harold Hill, said: “I know there are lots of people in the flats around Briars Estate who won’t go out at night because of the young people hanging around the shops.

“It can be frightening. There are drugs being sold and the police try, but what do they do? When they see police, they run away.”

Only seven per cent of residents reported feeling “very safe”, while 40 per cent said they felt “fairly safe”, according to the Mori poll.

Perceptions surrounding anti-social behaviour have improved with many people feeling that loitering teenagers, vandalism, drugs and litter were not as big a problem as they used to be.

Leader of Havering Council Cllr Michael White said: “As a councillor, I know that Havering is one of London’s safest boroughs, but as a resident I also know that any crime is too much crime, and I can understand why people might think the borough is less safe than it actually is.

“Councils and police forces all across the country have to wrestle with the issue of a higher fear of crime than local crime rates perhaps deserve.”

Cllr White said he would continue to work closely with the police, improve street lighting, remove graffiti and keep the borough tidy. We want people not just to be safe, but also to feel safe as fear of crime can impact very negatively on people’s overall quality of life,” he added.