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Alley Gating… What’s it all about?

26 Jul , 2018  

The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 allows local authorities the power through a public space protection order (PSPO) to restrict public right of way over a highway to reduce crime and Antisocial Behaviour. Alley Gates are something that has been around for quite some years in Burnley. They are basically big steel gates that are erected at the entrances to a back alley to close off the area and prevent people who don’t live there getting access.

The gates are fitted to areas that are suffering from crime and antisocial behaviour that is caused by people who don’t live within the block. The idea being that if you block off the access to the general public then it is likely to prevent that crime happening. It’s what the police refer to as “target hardening”; a physical means of strengthening a building in order to prevent crime.

Gating of a back street or alleyway is only half of the job. To ensure the success of a scheme cooperation from all residents is essential. If residents work together to keep them locked at all times, then they can drastically reduce burglaries and other crimes and undesirable behaviour that happen on the back street. If they are left open, then the gates might as well not be there!

It’s not just as easy as saying “we think we should put a gate up here” though. In order for gates to be installed a process must be completed and the area must meet certain criteria. You may have heard of the PSPO being used in relation to the town centre area. In the case of Alley gates, the Council is creating a very small version of this type of order that is specific to one alley, so the powers need to be backed up with evidence that they are required in the first place.

What alley gates are NOT there to do is ‘gate in’ problems. So if the people causing the issue live on your block, they are not going to help. They are unlikely to help if your neighbours dump rubbish on the back street, have unwanted visitors to their houses, let their dog out to foul on the back street or have kids that are causing a disturbance. They are also not going to help if the problems happen on your front street.

The schemes are not without capital expense. Each year, Burnley Council sets aside a budget that allows a number of these gated schemes to be installed. In 2017/18 the budget was around £25,000. Schemes vary in cost, as some back streets have one entrance and some have more. Generally, the budget allows for around 5 schemes a year. This year, the Council has decided to double that budget during the next two years, with the view to fitting an extra 10 schemes.

So if you’re having problems in your neighbourhood and think alley gates might help, what can you do?

  1. Report the issues to the Police or to the Council, depending on their nature (see tips below)
  2. Speak to your local Neighbourhood Policing Team and get advice on whether there is anything that might help the situation and if they would support an application for a scheme. You can find your local officer by going to this link https://www.lancashire.police.uk/your-area/east-division/burnley/
  3. Talk it over with neighbours; there’s no point in applying unless you are sure there is at least some support for them on your block. 100% resident agreement is no longer required for a scheme, although the majority must be in favour.
  4. Apply for a scheme. Contact the Council’s Community Safety Team on 01282 425011 or streetscene@burnley.gov.uk for an application form.
  5. Keep logging the jobs! Your application will only be successful if the issues are regular enough to warrant action.

So how do you know who to report things to?

  • If it’s an emergency (as in there is an immediate threat to property or person) ring 999.
  • If it’s less serious crime or not requiring immediate response but it is breaking the law then report it here: https://doitonline.lancashire.police.uk/ Examples of when to do this his might be some criminal damage to property but there is no longer anyone around, finding items that you think might have been used in a crime or have been stolen and dumped. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can expect someone to come flying up the road with “blues and twos” immediately. In fact most of the time you might only get a phonecall back or a visit on the local officer’s next shift. What it does mean is that you will log and incident / crime instantly on the Police system with a record of this and confirmation of your log number. You can contact the police on 101 as well, but you may find you are in a queue for some time, and you will need to remember to ask for the log number to make your case!
  • If the issue is about Anti-social behaviour of people you can report this to Burnley Council. This might be people using the back street as a cut through for motorbikes, kids or adults congregating and causing a nuisance, people coming from outside the area to dump rubbish, people regularly using the area to take a pee, bring prostitutes or deal drugs. You can do this by reporting online at www.burnley.gov.uk and selecting REPORT then ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR. You will need a “YourBurnley” account which is easy to set up and means you can report or access your history at any time of day. If you’re not able to do this, you can call 01282 425011 and asking for the ASB team during office hours. All information is treated confidentially and will not be disclosed without your permission.
  • If you’re a calico tenant or the person causing the problem is a calico tenant then they are also there to give support on 01282 686 300

Alley Gates aren’t the answer to all neighbourhood problems, and this is why I’m currently working with officers who are looking at innovative ways to use the legislation to create cost effective ways of reducing the problems people face. I’m hoping that over the next few months some of these ideas will be trialed to gauge their success. The more tools available for officers to tackle problems, the more likely you are to have safer neighbourhoods for the future.

 

Lian PateBy Lian Pate

Labour Councillor for Brunshaw, Borough Executive Member for Community & Environmental Service, and Community Centre Manager


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