PART of a happy life is to feel safe in your own home and in your community.
The Rochford district is judged to be a low-crime area, which suggests residents should feel safe.
And on the whole this is true.
In a 2013 survey of residents carried out by the Rochford District Council’s Community Safety Partnership, 67.1 per cent of people said they felt “very safe” in their local area during the day.
That figure dropped to 26.3 per cent after dark, but 46.3 per cent still felt “fairly safe”, with only 2.5 per cent saying they were very unsafe.
The partnership, made up of the district and county councils, the fire service, NHS and the police, says it wants to do more.
An action plan for 2013/14 called for a reduction in antisocial behaviour in the district and targeted a drop in repeat burglaries, among other things.
Conservative councillor for Hawkwell North Jo McPherson, who is responsible community safety, said: “One of our targets is to reduce antisocial behaviour, but also to change people’s perceptions of it.
“Antisocial behaviour is not all caused by children and teenagers, and just because a group of teenagers are in a park on a sunny afternoon does not mean they are up to no good.”
A third of those who responded to the partnership’s questionnaire last year identified “teenagers hanging around the streets” as a fairly big problem.
As a result, a number of measures were put in place and they seem to be working.
For example, residents in Great Wakering complained there was not enough for young people to do.
Now, with the help of the Wakering Young People’s Community Project, teenagers have somewhere to go after school.
Theproject offers the Kids Klub, teen cafe, holiday activity sessions and after school activities.
Mrs McPherson added: “Historically, young people used to be fed up that there was nothing to do.
“Now this project engages young people, they are on the managing board and have a say.”
The Association Through Football scheme also helps keep boys and girls off the streets, giving them somewhere to play, train and learn at minimal costs.
The partnership’s work does not stop with young people.
Working with the police runs events offering give advice to elderly people on how to secure their homes and feel safe.
It also works with neighbourhood watch schemes and funds an independent mediation service to resolve neighbourhood disputes.
In addition, there are domestic abuse awareness workshops in schools.
The partnership has also adopted the national J9 project, which was launched after Janine Mundy was murdered by her husband in Cornwall in 2009.
Mrs McPherson said: “Rochford libraries and many businesses display the J9 pink heart logo in their window.
“This gives the victims of abuse the knowledge that they can go into any of these premises and seek help and refuge to make a phone call or get contact details for agencies that can help them.
“It is a simple thing, but it helps and makes a difference.”
The partnership also helps to rehabilitate offenders, taking them to Acres Way kennels, in Thundersley, where they can exercise dogs in the hope it will divert them away from destructive behaviour.
Mrs McPherson said: “It keeps people away from other situations where they might reoffend.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston thinks the partnership is doing a well.
At a recent meeting in Hockley Mr Alston said the Rochford district was one of the safest places in Essex.
He told residents: “I think you’re fantastically well looked after by your community safety partnership. I’m impressed.”
But Mrs McPherson is not one to rest on her laurels, and had this message for residents: “We will always have crime, but we are doing as much as we possibly can to prevent it and keep people safe.”