Last week the BBC reported on the development of a "community self-policing" initiative from London Citizens, as part of their CitySafe project, aimed at shops, local businesses and other community buildings - stations or libraries, for example. The idea is that by signing up to the scheme the business commits to looking out for the young people in the community by offering their premises as a haven – a safe place to seek refuge if a young person is feeling vulnerable or threatened. This will hopefully develop stronger and better relationships within the community - person to person, and between local people and local businesses too.
What a positive contrast to ASBOs, and other initiatives that criminalise or demonise our young people. Not only a good example of society… collectively nurturing our children better, as called for by Al Aynsley Green, but also a project that speaks to the RSA’s Connected Communities project. If strong relationships within a community can help to improve safety, and the well-being of our young people in particular, then fostering these relationships, and establishing them where they currently don’t exist, is of the greatest importance.
But does the scheme go far enough? Should it be extended so that all members of a community feel able to seek haven in local shops, restaurants, town halls? Is it really only young people who need assurance that they are not on their own in their community?
It would be nice one day not to need an initiative such as CitySafe to ensure that local people look out for young people, and young people feel like they have somewhere to turn. But until that time, CitySafe is playing a very important and necessary role in creating safer communities that take collective responsibility for the well-being of their young people.