Oldham Safer Streets Partnership

Safer Streets Fund R3 Programme

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Safer Streets Programme aims to improve the safety of women and girls travelling on and around the areas of the TfGM Metrolink in Oldham. Aligned to the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Gender Based Violence Strategy, and in response to violence against women and girls (VAWG), the programme is trialing a series of immediate and long-term impact initiatives in order to build a suite of innovative interventions that have a meaningful impact on safety, can be sustained for the future and have the potential to be scaled across all public transport in Greater Manchester. Working as a multi-agency, place-based approach, the programme brings together delivery partners from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Greater Manchester Police (GMP), Oldham Council Community Safety and Youth Services, Oldham College and VCFSE groups Oldham Street Angels and Rochdale Street Pastors.

Key programme initiatives include:
– Developing a strategy for using drone technology to improve safety, through co-design by GMP and members of the public.
– Using existing technology in a novel way to improve access to incident reporting channels on trams, combining online chat functions with unique placement of QR codes and help information.
– Increasing the coverage of CCTV and trialling the integration of CCTV systems between Oldham Council and TfGM.
– Increasing the presence of trusted people along the network with a new multi-agency team made up of Metrolink TravelSafe Officers, Oldham Council Youth Services, Oldham Street Angels and Rochdale Street Pastors.
– Exploring how online platforms like Commonplace can improve the 2-way conversation between members of the public and local authorities to build strong data insights to focus community safety efforts.

What are the key achievements?

Drone use across public sector for safety is not common. A key achievement of the programme is beginning the conversation with key stakeholders like the Greater Manchester Women and Girls Group and kicking off the development of an inclusive design that enables women, girls and all residents to express how they would like to see the technology being used to build public confidence and improve safety. Using GMP crime statistics for the Metrolink tram stops through Oldham town centre and exploring optimal design, 51 new CCTV cameras are currently being installed to increase coverage of obstructed foot paths to, from and around the Metrolink
platforms. This wider coverage not only acts as a deterrent but also provides reassurance in locations that are not always visible.

Data and insights
To improve safety, the right data and insight is required to build an impactful approach. The positive and open collaboration with GMP has enabled the programme to use incident and crime data to identify where residents may face security concerns and to know if the programme is making an impact. Initial data reviews indicate that the volume of crime in the area has decreased since the launch of the programme in October 2021. The Programme has also introduced the Commonplace portal to allow residents and visitors to Oldham to inform about locations where they have felt unsafe, and for what reason. This is helping build an even greater local picture and understanding of the day-to-day safety issues people are experiencing in and around the Metrolink stops and enables for direct consultation with them to tell us what they want to see to make locations safer.

Behaviour and culture change
The launch of the VCFSE and public sector Trusted People has been a significant achievement of the programme to date. Listening to the residents consulted at the beginning of the programme, the GMCA Safer Streets developed a new multiagency team to be present along, in and around the Metrolink network as a ‘friendly face’ for those feeling unsafe or uneasy. Featured on BBC North West Politics show, the initiative has received strong support from the community and political leadership. February will see the launch of a poster campaign across the Metrolink network, developed and designed by Oldham College graphic design students that highlights what behaviours are inappropriate primarily towards women and girls and generally to anyone. The posters bring an obvious, public face to inappropriate behaviour to challenge social norms that are tolerated but incorrect. Oldham Council have delivered online training to the Trusted People VCFSE and Local Authority group, looking at how to identify and diffuse inappropriate behaviours towards women, girls and all members of the public. The training coaches the team through behavioural insights that is beyond the obvious behaviours of verbal and physical abuse and equips them with the skills to carefully manage situations they may identify when supporting women and girls.

How innovative is your initiative?

Drone use in and around the Metrolink network coupled with public surveying and consultation will be a unique way of engaging with members of the public. Members of the public will be asked how drones could be used effectively to improve safety for people travelling by public transport, using the Oldham Metrolink tram stops as a proof of concept. TfGM delivery partners have launched a new way to report incidents or insecurity on the tram, in collaboration with Greater Manchester Police. Leveraging the current re-emergence of the QR code and effectively linking together existing processes, Metrolink users can quickly scan QR codes, located in ‘heads down’, subtle areas to report incidents or threatening behaviour on trams and platforms. By simply using QR codes, rethinking the placement of codes i.e. places where people using mobile phones typically look, the floor or seat backs, and linking partner processes, innovation, novelty and impact is achieved.

The launch of the Commonplace platform, which allows for two-way interaction between the public and public services will help us gather data and insights while informing users of Safer Streets initiatives in the area they can access if they’re feeling unsafe or uncertain in the area they’re travelling through. In addition to their poster campaign, Oldham College students are developing a situational theatre production that will express the impact of negative behaviours and will challenge audiences to reflect on their own perceptions of what is appropriate. The production will be performed/shown in a number of public venues and will be recorded to share with other educational institutes.

What are the key learning points?

Benefits of multi-agency working and bringing those with knowledge of the ‘place’ from different perspectives together to share experience, knowledge enables a wider community reach and joined-up approaches to safety improvement. Innovation can be achieved through using existing technology simply and effectively, tailoring to the current behaviours and social norms e.g. QR codes and placement of information (on the floor or on seat backs). Portals and apps can offer simple and effective opportunities to have two-way digital conversations with citizens, enabling tangible actions to be identified that will make a difference. When technology and people strategies are combined, it is possible to achieve an immediate positive impact, stabilising situations, while working with the public to achieve more substantial positive change. Exploring the use of new technology can make stakeholders nervous but by co-designing a strategy with stakeholders, opportunities can be found that advances the acceptance of innovative technologies. Long-term behaviour change begins when you take time to understand young people’s perspectives on behaviour and why behaviour may be ‘normal’ to them, but in reality, is inappropriate and intimidating to others. There has been significant learning in how to work with and support young people to challenge behaviour of their peers and older generations in an innovative way, e.g. poster research and design, situational theatre productions.

Additional Comments

Although there is a named individual, this is a full team nomination for all the key delivery partners within the Safer Streets Programme who are working above and beyond to really try and understand what will begin and sustain the cultural shift in behaviour towards women and girls, and who are exploring any innovative way to achieve this. The team’s collaboration and willingness to prioritise the programme while managing covid impact and their own organisational priorities has been amazing.