As a popular seaside resort for visitors, it is important that residents feel safe and are able to enjoy living in our beautiful location. Boscombe is an area that is often discussed due to its reputation as an area with higher-than-usual levels of unregulated rehabilitation providers and support housing facilities, and many residents have raised concerns over crime and substance abuse levels in the area. Last year I helped the local policing team in Boscombe to open the new Tardis-style police box, but there is also more to be done to tackle local crime and drug use.
I have met with numerous local groups since 2005 to discuss these issues, and in the last few years I have undertaken a much larger research project covering all aspects of the problems in Boscombe, which has been discussed with Ministers for consideration.
In researching this issue, I submitted over forty Freedom of Information requests,have undertaken numerous local visits, spoken with local police and healthcare professionals, met with the council's housing and drug and alcohol action teams, and spoken with registered rehabilitation centres operating in and around Boscombe. Although I will set this out in more detail in my report, there are a number of issues I wish to focus on to tackle crime in Boscombe;
- Clamp down on unregulated rehabilitation centres and Houses of Multiple Occupancy(HMO's) that claim to offer vulnerable people housing with additional support services but need no licence or proof of service provision to do so. These services should be CQC regulated and inspected, and landlords receiving enhanced housing benefit to supply these services should have to pass regular inspections in order to receive the additional sum payments
- Improve the quality of local housing in Boscombe to ensure that vulnerable tenants are in a more secure environment conducive to recovery
- Council powers to be strengthened so that applications to convert large houses into HMO units (mostly single-unit flats) can be rejected where the area is already deemed saturated. This would encourage more family units in the area and ensure that more families see Boscombe as a permanent, safe family location
I wrote an article about Boscombe shortly after finalising this research project, where I emphasised that despite public perceptions of Boscombe as an unsafe area, it does also have great potential for investment, particularly by sectors where Bournemouth is strong (such as tourism and the digital economy) and where developers are looking for sites to develop into business locations. This could bring thousands of new skilled jobs to the area and help make the area more attractive and safe for those looking to move there and for existing residents too. To read more on this, head to my article here: http://www.tobiasellwood.com/news/tackling-crime-boscombe