Community Safety Research
What is it?
First findings from a recent study on Community Safety and Town Promotion of Ennis administered by University of Limerick’s Department of Politics and Public Administration are now becoming available. The research was done in late 2013 with people living, working and using the town of Ennis as a direct outcome from the Ennis 2020 Visioning Framework based on Public Participation in 2011. Cllr. Flynn initiated and worked on the creation of Ennis 2020 in 2011, in 2012 he focussed on achievement of Purple Flag and through this initiative the need for a Safety Perception survey was identified.
What does it mean for you?
Once the study is finalised and published, Cllr. Flynn will be on your behalf working with Gardai and authorities to implement strategies and recommendations resulting from this document with the aim of a safer town and a rise in perception of safety.
Additional details and findings:
Official figures show that compared to other towns of similar size like Tralee or Kilkenny, Ennis ranks amongst the lower end of the crime statistics and crimes have been decreasing steadily since 2008 in the Ennis area with a great drop of nearly 30% from 2008 to figures in 2011 and a continual decrease since. Results from the UL study show that only 20% of those questioned were ever victim of a crime in Ennis and of these nearly 50% were attributed to Anti-Social Behavior and Assault only accounted for 10%.
“Any crime or Anti-Social Behaviour in our town is unacceptable. However, I am glad to hear the results of the recent study which is in line with national figures. I am committed to working with our very active and effective Ennis Gardai as well as with any other organisation, public body or business or resident groups to further decrease figures.” Said Cllr. Flynn. “It is clear that there are issues in particular in a few identified locations that need dealing with. In addition, it is crucial that we work on the perception of safety in Ennis together and re-assure our public that they can go about their daily and night business as relaxed as in any other town in Ireland.”
The research also reveals that the main factors affecting sense of safety positively and asked to strengthen in Ennis are Presence of CCTV, Visibility of Gardai, better lighting and well-maintained public spaces.
The study also looked at the promotion and the use of the town of Ennis. For the timeframe after 5pm, respondents said that they would feel encouraged to make greater use of the town if the following was improved upon: Free Parking (nearly 60%), Shops open later (77%), More street entertainment (over 40%) and more Garda patrols (nearly 40%).
The research done by UL included 3 surveys with different age and demographic profiles with a strong focus on Youths in line with the Ennis 2020 framework looking into the future itself. Sample size included nearly 200 adult respondents, over 100 in schools and 90 participants in Youth Centre; bringing the total amount of respondents to over 400. Full details will be made available in summer 2014.
Purple Flag Evening Excellence and Safety Award
What is it?
Purple Flag’s aims are to raise the standard and broaden the appeal of town centres at night. In 2009, Cllr. Johnny Flynn first suggested the scheme to Ennis Town Council as a means to working to provide a vibrant, well-managed and safe evening and night-time in Ennis.
What does it mean for you?
Both statistics and perception of Safety in the town are criteria within the Purple Flag remit – as a result Ennis is now working with University of Limerick conducting a Community Safety Research Study. Like application for Tidy Towns, the town will be required to maintain its high standards and is being re-assessed annually. The flag also requires a town to show vibrancy and be well-managed; both of course only possible with a strong and growing workforce.
Purple Flag Policy
A key aim of Purple Flag is to improve perceptions. The achievement of a flag is an opportunity to put the word out that the centre is clean, safe and convivial – a place to visit rather than to avoid. Purple Flag Week has been introduced by ATCM to help Purple Flag holders put across a positive message, attract new visitors and support local businesses.PERCEPTIONS More positive perceptions of the town centre by users Significance. The image of many town centres at night is so negative that it deters many from going out. This is often at variance with the reality. The Civic Trust’s (UK)original NightVision report featured focus group research that identified four main concerns: Safety and a lack of visible policing; a limited offer; a lack of adequate transport home; and the cost of an evening out. Changing perceptions for the better can lead to increased footfall, great patronage and a stronger town centre economy. Purple Flag projects need information on who visits their centres at night, who chooses to stay away and what their perceptions are e.g. what their interests are, whether they feel safe at different times of the evening and night, what they think about the quality and attractions, how the centre compares with other destinations and whether they have noticed an improvement or deterioration over, say, the preceding twelve months.
Crime statistics over the last 5 years show an ever decreasing trend in the town and Environs of Ennis. Order figures have been decreasing continuously and all crime figures in Ennis down. In the years 2009-2011, the Public Order offences were down by more than 25% (compared to an average of less than 20% decrease nationally.) When Ennis was awarded the Evening Excellence Award Purple Flag in February this year, the town was certified with having a well-managed, safe and vibrant evening and night-time economy. “Having won the prestigious Purple Flag accreditation does not mean that there will never be any crime or safety issues, but it certifies that the town has an overall consistently good safety record and that a key priority of the town is in the successful management and prevention of crimes.” Said Cllr. Flynn, who is a key member of the Ennis Purple Flag Working Group and was essential in the introduction of the scheme into Ireland. “Our work through Purple Flag is since it’s very beginning 2 years ago supported by the local police force and we are hugely delighted to learn from them and work with the Gardaí in the effort to make Ennis a safer place for everyone at any time. To now also have the support of University of Limerick in this area is a huge benefit and their vision and guidance is crucial in this process.”