AN ACTION plan has been drawn up to tackle serious crime across Southampton.

The Safe City Strategy 2022-2027 aims to combat violent crime, sexual offending and other law and order issues that are blighting communities.

It has been put together by the Safe City Partnership, which comprises representatives from the city council, the emergency services, health bodies and other organisations.

Together, they aim to make Southampton a safer place to live, work and visit.

According to, which analyses crime levels across the UK, the city is the most dangerous in Hampshire. 

Last year Southampton saw 123 crimes per 1,000 people - 35 per cent higher than the county average of 80 crimes per 1,000 people.

Of all the cities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Southampton had the fifth-worst crime rate, with higher than average crime levels for burglary, criminal damage and arson.

But the most common crimes involved violence and sexual assaults.

A total of 14,792 offences were recorded across the city - an increase of 18 per cent on the figure for 2020.

A report produced by the Safer City Partnership says reasons for the high crime rate include the growing number of young people, who are at a disproportionately higher risk of becoming offenders.

The number of Southampton residents aged 15-19 is expected to increase by 14.7 per cent over the next five years.

The report says children living in poverty are also at greater risk of embarking on a life of crime.

Some 22 per cent of children in the city are living in ‘low income’ families, with 30.4 per cent of pupils eligible for free school meals. The figure rose by 5.7 per cent last year and is now 9.6 per cent higher than the national average.

Other factors include the number of people claiming benefits.

The percentage of those receiving out-of-work benefits in Southampton more than doubled last year from 3.1 per cent to 6.6 per cent.

Superintendent Simon Dodds is the district police commander for Southampton.

He said: “Our number one priority is to reduce violence and in doing so make the city safer. Most frequently that is violence associated [with] county lines drug dealing, domestic abuse and incidents related to the nighttime economy, specifically rape and serious sexual offences.

“As part of our focus on violent crime, we have a dedicated team whose role is to tackle offenders causing harm relating to drug supply, whilst protecting those who are on the periphery of criminality made vulnerable through drug use.”

Supt Dodds also listed some of the other issues officers in the city were working to address.

He said: “Tackling violence against women and girls is a key part of our violent crime strategy, which is why we have dedicated patrols at night on the weekends and work with licensed premises, security staff and other agencies to reassure those enjoying a night out and target potential perpetrators.”

Other police operations that aim to keep the city safer include the Safe At Home campaign, which supports victims of domestic abuse.

Officers are also working with young people who have been involved in knife crime, while the Violence Reduction Unit is looking at the root causes of violence in the home.

The Safe City Strategy, a five-year plan which covers the period 2022-2027, has several priorities.

The partnership is planning to implement evidenced-based environmental changes that can increase safety and reduce the potential for harm.

It will also engage with Southampton residents to identify law and order issues that affect them as well as helping agencies work together to better target resources.

The partnership will listen to local people in a bid to understand what works and what doesn't.

The council and its partners say they will also listen to residents about the issues that have the greatest impact on their lives and ensure the public is provided with an annual statement identifying the challenges faced by the city and the progress being made.

Another priority is to prevent and reduce offending by trying to pinpoint the underlying causes of serious violence.

The partnership is pledging to support a well-trained trauma-informed workforce, who will work with offenders to tackle the underlying causes of their behaviour.

It will support communities and professionals to understand and recognise the signs and symptoms of radicalisation and exploitation.

The partnership is aiming to harness the support of large employers in improving awareness, confidence and skills surrounding the identification and referral of perpetrators.

It is also vowing to raise awareness of the term ‘perpetrator’, not just in terms of high impact abuse but also unhealthy behaviour by individuals in relationships.

The Safe City Strategy’s final priority is to create safe and stronger communities.

It is planning to enhance community engagement and development work across the city to help communities and local groups become stronger and safer, and reinstate a scheme that allows police and communities to work together through local forums and Partnership Action Groups.

One of the main aims is to prioritise issues of concern and promote volunteering, both to help organisations supporting ex-offenders and helping ex-offenders find volunteering opportunities.

The partnership believes that if it can achieve this, then its Safe City Strategy has a chance of making Southampton a safer place by 2027, with less anti-social behaviour, less violence and ultimately less crime.

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