Alley Gates - Safe guarding the local community
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Alley-gating, or the installation of security gates across footpaths and alleyways is, according to the Police and Reducing Crime Unit , now a recognised form of situational crime prevention, which aims to reduce the opportunity to commit crimes ranging from domestic burglary and criminal damage through to drug abuse, littering and fly tipping. Alley-gating can have a positive impact in terms of reducing anti-social behaviour, by removing the secluded environments sought out by perpetrators of this endemic offence.
The purpose of an alley-gate
or ginnel gate
is to control access to vulnerable target areas – usually paths or alleys at the rear and to the sides of houses. If the gate is to be locked manually with a key, local residents (and anyone else deemed appropriate) are provided with gate keys ensuring that access is limited to named personnel only.
Jacksons Fencing recently took part in a competitive tendering for a proposed alley-gate installation project in King’s Lynn, commissioned by Improving Neighbourhoods at King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council. Twenty-two companies expressed an interest in the project and 13 quoted for the final project via sealed bids.The decision to appoint Jacksons was based on a number of factors, primarily price, quality and the ability to complete the work within the nominated time frame. However, also pivotal to the winning of this contract was the company’s clear commitment to working alongside the client to achieve the desired objective.
With the decision making out of the way, Jacksons was given the go-ahead to progress with the project. The installations were within a residential neighbourhood and the reaction from members of the public, residents and the police since alley-gating have been very positive. John Butters, Alley-gating Project Officer at the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk and board member for the Improving Neighbourhoods programme commented “The vast majority of people have been impressed by the quality, standard of design and overall aesthetic appeal of the alley-gates and given this was one of the main success criteria by which the project was to be judged, we are very pleased with this outcome. The other key benchmark in evaluating the success of the alley-gate installation will clearly be the reduction of crimes such as burglary, arson, drugs, criminal damage, bullying, threatening behaviour, assault, littering, fouling and fly tipping. At this stage it is too early to report on results as the crime pattern analysis is in place but the findings are yet to be published”.
If the results of an analysis of recorded crime data referred to in a guide produced by the Applied Criminology Group at the University of Huddersfield in February 2006 are anything to go by, the alley-gating installation is destined to have a positive impact. Statistics suggest that alley-gating can reduce crime by up to 65% gross or 37% net.
The outcome of any alley-gate installation should also be viewed in context with the influence on the local community. By reducing the fear of crime, residents should feel more comfortable walking in the alleys, which in turn increases informal surveillance of the area. On a practical level, the creation of a non-threatening environment provides a safe play zone for children (which is also free from the health issues associated with contaminated litter, needles and dog fouling). There is also evidence of an increased sense of ownership of the secured alley by local members of the public and it is possible that such measures can engender a closer community spirit.
Finally, the installation of alley-gates can significantly improve the physical appearance and aesthetic appeal of an area, with some communities even feeling compelled to add trellises and hanging baskets or planting flowers and shrubs to further enhance their newly updated alley setting. The overall impact can be as dramatic as increasing the desirability of an area and reducing the cost of home insurance.