Friday, February 1, 2019

News: Rotherham town centre safety concerns remain

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Nearly a quarter of local pupils answering a question in an annual survey have expressed that they never feel safe in Rotherham town centre.

The Borough Wide Lifestyle Survey has been carried out since 2006 and was most recently carried out in May and June 2018. With a sample of 3,499 young people (52% of the relevant population), it is considered a valuable tool by Rotherham Council, helping to provide an idea of what young people understand and can enable the council to tailor services towards young people. Issues covered include food and drink, education, sexual health, bullying and safety.

The results showed that the percentage of young people saying that they visit Rotherham town centre has declined after an increase last year. 28.5% (843) of pupils said they visit Rotherham town centre regularly (at least once a week), compared to 33% in 2017 and 27% in 2016.

The 2018 results show the reasons pupils have visited Rotherham town centre are similar to in previous years. Overwhelmingly shopping is the main reason why pupils visit. Second choice is going to a football match at New York Stadium and third choice is meeting with friends.

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On the issue of safety in Rotherham town centre, 2015 results showed that just 18% of pupils said they felt safe in town centre and 82% said they did not feel safe.

Questions have been changed to ascertain how safe young people are feeling. In 2018 there has been an improvement in the percentage overall of pupils who said they always feel safe in Rotherham town centre. 19.3% (459) of pupils said they always feel safe, compared to 18% in 2017.

However, there has been an increase in the percentage of pupils who said they never feel safe - 23.3% (554) compared to 18.5% in 2017. Year 7 pupils are more likely to say they always feel safe and Y10 pupils are more likely to say they never feel safe.

There has been also been an increase in the percentage of pupils who say they never feel safe in at Rotherham bus station and train station, compared to 2017 results.

The survey also shows that 12.5% of pupils said they have never visited Rotherham town centre.

Survey writers say that they will share the results with key partners who can respond such as South Yorkshire Police, the town centre safety team and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) who operate the interchange.

The results are set to be discussed with local young people through groups such as the Youth Cabinet and the Different But Equal Board for their comments and thoughts on how this could be improved.

Cllr. Gordon Watson, Rotherham Council's Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young Peoples' Services said: "We are committed to ensuring every child has the best start in life, which is why surveys like this are important for us to be able to hear and act on what our younger residents tell us is important to them. The annual results from this survey show that direct action is being taken by schools and other settings to help address issues that arise."

"Having the voice of the child represented in this way really helps us to understand what issues are affecting our young people and therefore helps us as a council and as a partnership to address any concerns, should they arise."

The introduction of a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), and the £12m revamp of the Interchange, are in part aimed at making visitors feel safer. The number of incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) continues to decline in Rotherham town centre.

In the longer term, the mixed-used leisure development proposed for Forge Island is designed to provide more family friendly reasons to visit Rotherham town centre.

Images: UKSE

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