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Operation Be Safe – making Walsall a safer place to visit.

July 5, 2010

Over the past ten years, the night-time economy in Walsall has developed and the town centre is now recognised as one of the favourite places for young people in the West Midlands to visit at the weekend.

Part of the attraction is that people consider Walsall to be a safe place to visit. This feeling hasn’t come about by accident, it is as a result of a lot of work from the police, the local authority, the fire service and businesses in the town.

Ten years ago it was a different story. The following video was compiled from CCTV footage taken in Walsall. Some people may find the scenes disturbing, so don’t watch if you think you may be upset by it.

If you’ve watched the clip right through, you may have noticed something. In most of them, there was a lack of a visible police presence in the street. The fights went on for some time before officers got on the scene, so people were getting some serious injuries.

A number of inititatives were put in place to resolve this issue. The Licensing Act of 2003 (which didn’t come into force until November 2005) placed the control of licensed premises in the hands of local authorities. Working with the police, Walsall council were able to introduce conditions on the licences of the largest venues, encouraging them to improve safety and reduce the risk of alcohol related violence.

Police tactics were changed, so instead of responding to calls reporting a large fight, officers were posted to work in and around the town centre. At first, they were sat in police vans, but this didn’t always work, as an incident could be happening round the corner and no-one would see it.

Operation Be Safe came into being in 2007 and the combined efforts of all the licensing authorities has produced outstanding results. Using lessons learned over the years, a number of tactics were introduced:

  • Police officers are deployed on foot, posted at key location around the town;
  • Officers are alert to developing situations and intervene early to prevent escalation;
  • Regular checks are made inside venues, looking for trouble spots and signs of excessive drinking;
  • Partners undertake regular checks of licence and other safety conditions to ensure compliance;
  • Venues use a link radio system to inform CCTV operators and police of potential flashpoints;
  • Crime pattern analysis is used to identify problem areas and action taken to address the issues;
  • Regular operations are conducted to deter and detect offences related to drug use.

This combined approach has led to year on year reductions in crime in the town centre. It would be wrong to suggest that crime has been completely eradicated, but it is now a very rare occurrence to see incidents like those shown in the video earlier.

The following video was shot last year and gives a picture of what happens on Operation Be Safe in Walsall.

If you have any questions or comments about the policing operation in Walsall or need more information, please visit our “Feedback page”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. hapdaniel permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:06 pm

    I cannot understand why there is a music soundtrack to the first video. It’s almost as if you have attempted to glamorize this behaviour.

    • July 6, 2010 7:30 am

      Thanks for your comment.

      The music soundtrack wasn’t added by us – as you can see, the video is hosted on YouTube and we’ve merely linked to it.

      Hopefully viewers will realise that this video is shown merely to allow comparison between Walsall then and Walsall now. There is nothing glamorous about being repeatedly kicked while lying in the gutter – people in other towns and cities have died as a result of this kind of behaviour. This is why Walsall has such a visible police presence, to try and ensure that no-one suffers an assault like those seen and if someone does act in an aggressive manner, they are dealt with quickly and effectively.

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