Children remind adults to act responsibly on our streets

4 April 2007

Children from across the country will be very publicly calling upon the small minority of people who think it is acceptable to act anti-socially on our streets and in our towns to change their ways and take responsibility for their actions.

Competitions are being run in schools in 20 towns and cities across England that have received nearly £500,000 funding from the Government’s Respect Task Force to introduce innovative new ‘Talking CCTV’, aimed at getting the public to reflect on their behaviour and the example they are setting to others, especially children. The competitions and activities, such as designing posters that challenge bad behaviour and taking part in neighbourhood litter picks, help educate children about acceptable behaviour while at the same time they are encouraged to use their ‘pester power’ in a positive way – reminding grown -ups  how to behave.  The winning schoolchildren will be invited to become the ‘voice’ of the Talking CCTV in their town or city’s CCTV control room later this year.

Talking CCTV allows operators to talk directly to those involved, when they spot irresponsible behaviour, asking people to stop doing something or to make amends.

Home Secretary John Reid said:
“We are committed to tackling anti-social behaviour; promoting good behaviour and tackling bad.
“CCTV cameras already go a long way in helping make our streets safer; making people feel less vulnerable.  Talking CCTV is another tool in creating safer communities.  It uses modern technology to allow camera operators to speak directly to people on the streets to stop or prevent them acting anti-socially.  We know from Middlesbrough’s experience that this works.”

Louise Casey, the Government’s Co-ordinator for Respect said:

“Promoting good behaviour and challenging bad is a key theme of the Respect Action Plan.  Children are too often criticised for their attitude, when in fact the vast majority know how to behave and recognise the bad behaviour of others, young and old alike. 
“We want to remind people about what is, and is not, respectful behaviour and we are encouraging children to send this clear message to grown ups – act anti-socially and face the shame of being publicly embarrassed. We hope that perpetrators will think twice before doing it again.
“The new funding for Talking CCTV is aimed at the small minority who think it is acceptable to litter our streets, vandalise our communities and damage our properties.  We all pay council tax so in the end we all pay when our communities are disrespected – both in our pockets as well as in our daily lives.”
Graeme Gerrard, Chair of ACPO CCTV Working Group and Deputy Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, said:
''Talking CCTV increases the effectiveness of town centre cameras because it allows the camera operators to intervene and let the offender know their anti-social behaviour has been spotted and is being recorded. In many cases this is enough to stop the offending behaviour which in turn results in safer and tidier streets.  A lot of money has been spent on CCTV and any initiative that further improves its effectiveness and helps to reduce anti-social behaviour is welcomed.''
Talking CCTV systems will be of benefit to a number of different agencies in tackling anti-social behaviour including the police, local authorities and town centre management organisations.  It has already been successfully introduced in Middlesbrough where it has proved effective in reducing problems such as littering, drunken and disorderly behaviour, vandalism and dispersing intimidating groups loitering in shopping areas, parks and housing estates. 

Middlesbrough Council’s physical security manager, Jack Bonnar said:

"On the bottom end of the scale we use the Talking CCTV for littering offences, for which it's proven to be absolutely a 100 per cent success. The [town's] cleanliness has improved dramatically since the speakers have been installed.

"As we move up the scale a bit on public order offences - like drunkenness or fighting - we're proving the speakers are again coming into their own, and we're recording about 65 to 70 per cent success rate for those kind of offences."

Notes to editors

1. List of areas and activity being launched

Area Activity

Launch of series of litter picks and discussions about behaviour and local environmental issues involving 12 schools and Southwark’s young ‘street leaders’.

Barking & Dagenham: 
Launching a poster campaign for children encouraging adults not to drop litter

Launch of competition in local schools, churches and youth service, inviting young people to send in “raps” about behaviour.

Schools to be invited to enter poster competition

Norwich:  Poster competition for schoolchildren – on theme of tackling ASB and improving the physical environment

Ipswich:  Poster competition for children up to 11 years old, run in conjunction with radio station (Town 102) and public voting at Suffolk Show in may to decide winner.

Poster competition in two schools

Poster competition in two primary schools

Schools competition based around respect/behaviour

Litter campaign with plan to engage one or more schools in poster competition.

Schools competition based around respect/behaviour

Schools competition based around respect/behaviour

Children litter pick and poster competition

Police launching poster campaign for young people 

Poster competition for children on use of CCTV to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime.  Mini wardens involved in a small scale organised litterpick on the day. 

Schools competition based around respect/behaviour

Competition to be launched later, with winners to be invited into control room for switch-on of Talking CCTV.

Schools competition based around respect/behaviour

South Tyneside: 
Schools competition based around respect/behaviour

Children’s competition for a poster campaign

2. In total, 20 areas have developed proposals for funding, all of which have been agreed, with resources totalling £463,574.50. 

3. Promoting good behaviour and challenging bad is a key theme of the Respect Action Plan. 

4. The announcement of Respect funding to 20 areas for ‘Talking CCTV’ is part of a wider campaign to promote good behaviour and challenge bad – a key theme of the Respect programme.

5. Through a series of local competitions and activities, children will be encouraged to not only act responsibly themselves, but to also educate their parents, siblings and peers about what is unacceptable behaviour.  We want to harness the power of pestering!

6. For more information on the Respect Action Plan go to www.respect.gov.uk

7. For more information on Talking CCTV in Middlesbrough, including facts and figures, please contact Tony Butterfield on 01642 729503.


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