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UoG students assess impact of Gloucester City Safe Scheme on 10th anniversary

A new student-led study to mark the 10th anniversary of University of Gloucestershire’s work with the Gloucester City Safe Scheme has highlighted the initiative’s achievements and made key recommendations to further tackle crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour for the benefit of businesses and the local community.

As one of the UK’s 250 not-for-profit Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRP), the Gloucester City Safe Scheme liaises with the police and local authorities to tackle and reduce crime and disorder affecting businesses.

Launched in 2014, the Gloucester City Safe Scheme membership comprises 200 businesses – including restaurants, bars, retail establishments and transport services – operating in Gloucester, Stroud and nearby areas.

The new study was carried out by University of Gloucestershire BSc Criminology, BA Sociology, BSc Criminology and Sociology, and BSc Professional Policing students to measure the scheme’s impact on facilitating a reduction in crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour.

Informed by interviews carried out by students with City Safe members and stakeholders, the report will enhance an understanding of crime and disorder, and to help inform efforts to tackle these issues.

The report found that most businesses faced challenging behaviour from customers, including shoplifting and anti-social behaviour, such as verbal abuse and intimidation.

Members said the City Safe scheme was an effective deterrent against crime, while membership provided them with a heightened sense of security that was underpinned by access to instant communications and information, via an app, web platform, radios and emails.

Members welcomed the visible presence of City Protection Officers (CPO) to increase safety and tackle anti-social behaviours, and many believed that Gloucester had become a safer city at night.  

The report’s recommendations include a continuing increase in resources for the Gloucester City Safe Scheme; support for businesses outside of the typical crime ‘hotspot’ areas; consideration of the use of facial recognition, alongside the current use of CCTV and the City Safe app and website; and more access for members to information around begging and homeless.

Gloucester City Safe Scheme Manager, Steve Lindsay, said: “This year we celebrate our 10-year anniversary as a Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP).

“It has been an amazing journey and throughout this we have worked in partnership with University of Gloucestershire with their student-led studies.

“It is always humbling to work with and support young people becoming adults, and supporting them with their studies has been a highlight of my career.

“They are a fantastic and enthusiastic bunch of students and really make a difference in the retail crime and nighttime economy areas.”  

Real-world practical experience

Dr Charlie Parker, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences within the University’s School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences, said: “The experience of carrying out research, communicating with the community and publishing an impactful report is an important element of our students’ learning each year to provide them with real-world practical experience.

“As members of our local community, they have a shared interest in supporting and informing initiatives such as the Gloucester City Safe Scheme to help make Gloucester a safe place to live, work and study.

“We would like to thank Steve Lindsay, the Gloucester City Safe Scheme Manager, its members and the various other stakeholders that supported this project and gave the students this valuable opportunity.”