Birmingham picked for new fight against crime

Article date: 4 November 2002

Birmingham has been chosen as one of three areas in England fora new scheme to fight crime in the community.

Norwich Union, the UK’s largest general insurer, hasteamed up with Crime Concern to launch the Norwich UnionNeighbourhood Apprenticeship Scheme on the Northfield Estate inBirmingham, which will focus on training and coaching local peopleto work with fellow residents to fight crime.

Apprentices will be appointed in three areas - the Northfieldestate in Birmingham, the Blacon Estate in Chester, and Hackney,East London.

They will work under the supervision and guidance of experiencedCrime Concern managers already working in partnerships relating tocrime reduction and social inclusion in deprived neighbourhoodsacross the country.

The West Northfield project area, in the south west ofBirmingham, is made up of three distinct communities, with a totalpopulation of 10,000. Major issues affecting the area includedomestic burglary, drugs, and anti-social behaviour.

A recent ‘Fear of Crime’ survey was carried out onthe area over a two-month period, amongst people who live in theWest Northfield project area. The findings showed:

  • Residents report a lack of community spirit and focus
  • Nearly half (47 per cent) of residents say domestic burglaryis their number one fear
  • 176 domestic burglaries had occurred during the past ninemonths – twice the national average, and 30 per cent higherthan the average for Birmingham
  • The actual level of crime was much greater than the reportedcrime
  • 70 per cent of residents report a lack of facilities for youngpeople leading to anti-social behaviour
  • 62 per cent report ‘young people hanging around ingroups on the estates’ as a problem - increasingresidents’ fear of crime

Previous research this year by Norwich Union also shows thatwhile there has been a drop in community spirit across the UK, thefigures are worse in areas of social housing.

The apprenticeship position in the West Northfield area will beadvertised in December, with the successful applicant starting inthe New Year.

Jill Willis, market development manager for Norwich UnionInsurance, said: “As the UK's largest household insurancecompany we want to understand what’s really underneath thecrime figures, particularly in areas of social housing where thelevels of crime are twice the national average.

"By funding these apprenticeship schemes such as the one on theNorthfield estate, we hope to achieve a better understanding ofwhat works best at a grass roots level, in the hope that we canbuild on and develop other schemes like this in the future."

Chris Dyer, Crime Concern, Programme Manager for the SaferNeighbourhood Projects across Birmingham, added: ‘’Amajority of residents we spoke to on the Northfield Estateidentified a lack of community spirit, with around half identifyingdomestic burglary as their main area of concern - both of which areworrying statistics.

“Much of the crime in England and Wales takes place in themost socially excluded and neglected areas of the country. Figuresshow that 40 per cent of all crime takes place in ten per cent ofneighbourhoods.

“We believe that action by robust and committedpartnerships is needed to empower and work directly withcommunities, to help in the fight to reduce crime, and the NorwichUnion Neighbourhood Apprenticeship Scheme will allow us to targetthe areas most in need.”

Media contact:
Jane Wheeler/Matt Buchanan at QBO on 020 7379 0304/0780 350 1804 orJenny Chapman at Norwich Union on 08703 66 68 64 / 07775 822642

Notes to editors:

  • Norwich Union commissioned Connect Research tointerview 366 council tenants in London and the South East, WestMidlands and Scotland in June 2002. Sample included Englishspeaking tenants and non-English speaking Asian tenants.
  • Norwich Union also commissioned ICM Research Limited tointerview 1,000 households across the country about crime and homesecurity in June 2002.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. In generalinsurance it is more than 1.5 times the size of its nearestcompetitor, and has a 19 per cent share of the market.
  • It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in five motor vehicles
    • more than 700,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at
  • A selection of images is available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality interviews.Call the press office on 08703 66 68 68
  • Crime Concern is a national crime reductionorganisation which works with national and local agencies tocreate safer communities. It manages national programmes and over60 local projects, as well as evaluated work on neighbourhoodsafety and tackling problems of burglary, domestic violence,vehicle crime, hate crime, passenger safety and businesscrime.

For life and pensions media enquiries call 08703 66 68 73
For all other media enquiries call 08703 66 68 68

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