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Council poster campaign exaggerates drop in antisocial behaviour

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POSTERS have shot up all over Croydon declaring a significant drop in antisocial behaviour. The in-your-face billboards announce, in bold red and yellow writing: "Antisocial behaviour down 20%". But analysis of the evidence behind the council's prominent new advertising campaign revealed a selective use of statistics has exaggerated the decrease. In fact, official data on the Metropolitan Police website shows that antisocial behaviour has fallen by half the rate claimed on the posters. When asked about the discrepancy, a council spokeswoman said the posters only referred to statistics for "rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour". Other incidents - including trespass, prostitution, littering, malicious communications, animal problems - were not included, she added, because "most people to do not consider them ASB". The posters contain no explanation of the council's calculations. Seventy-five have been put up across the borough, including along the high street, at a cost of £960. The Safer Croydon Partnership - between the council, police and the fire brigade - said the campaign was designed to "reassure people that on-going work is being done to tackle rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour, and to encourage them to report more". The billboards do not include any information of how to report incidents, but do claim there is less "noise, drugs, street drinking, begging, threatening behaviour, vandalism, rowdy behaviour, animal nuisance and prostitution". The advertising campaign follows a summer crackdown on street drinking and begging which resulted in 32 arrests, 347 alcohol seizures and 34 fixed penalty notices. There have also been efforts to relocate drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres away from the town centre and a plan, now shelved, to use legal powers against a soup kitchen in Queen's Gardens. Official crime figures show there was a 10.5 per cent drop in antisocial behaviour in the period referred to by the posters, from 15,719 in 2011/12 to 14,055 in 2012/13. The council said its stats, provided by the police, show rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour dropped from 10,971 to 8,465 during this time. Mark Watson, Labour's spokesman for public safety, said using selective figures was misleading. He added: "People aren't deciding not to shop in the town centre because of antisocial behaviour, it's what's going on next to their homes they're worried about. "That includes some of the low level incidents which this advertising campaign is ignoring. "There is a disconnect between the fear of crime and the reality, so I'm not against making people feel safer. "But the way the council uses figures needs to be looked at because they aren't giving people the full picture. "While we're not talking about a large amount of money it would be better off spent on something constructive rather than telling people things aren't as bad as they think they are." In October this year there were 1,030 instances of antisocial behaviour in Croydon, the fifth highest number in London. While such incidents are falling, personal robbery increased 11 per cent between 2011/12 and 2012/13. In contrast figures from the Met's regular public attitude survey show fear of crime (the percentage of people who answered that they were "worried" or "very worried" about crime in their area) halved in Croydon between June 2012 and June 2013, and is now at 15 per cent, its lowest since the survey began.

Council poster campaign exaggerates drop in antisocial behaviour


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