Ground breaking project will help make Sunderland City Centre a safer place to visit

07 December 2022

A ground-breaking project has been launched in Sunderland to help make the city centre a more attractive and safer place for all who live, visit and work there.

The SAIL Project, an acronym for Sunderland Altogether Improving Lives, is a new partnership which will bring together the expertise of partner agencies under one roof with the aim of making a real and lasting difference to people's lives.

Officers from Northumbria Police will work collaboratively with Sunderland City Council, Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) and support services from a centrally located base in the city centre.

They will be supported by a four strong team of dedicated staff funded by the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, who play a vital role in working with young people involved in offending in the city centre, offering them support and the chance to divert away from criminality in the future.

SAIL will also work closely with the business community in the city centre and Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID) to make the city centre a more pleasant and safer place to be.

Set up in response to feedback from city centre stakeholders, business owners and visitors about anti-social behaviour in the city centre, the SAIL partnership will use collaboration and effective partnership working to fight crime and keep people safe.

It builds on the success of the award-winning SARA project in Southwick and HALO project in Hetton which were set up to work with local communities and help build a sense of ownership and pride in the area at the same time as tackling a range of issues including anti-social and criminal behaviour, environmental crime, unemployment and poor mental health.

And it further develops the long standing partnership working between Northumbria Police, Sunderland City Council and Sunderland BID which has resulted in highly effective multi-agency operations to tackle pockets of crime and anti-social behaviour during the summer months and in the run up to Christmas.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Cabinet Member for Clean Green City, said: "This is all about working in partnership to make our city centre a more attractive and safer place to be for everyone who lives, visits and works there. This is a tried and tested approach which builds on the excellent partnerships we already have with key agencies working in the city, and it's one which we know works well.

"It's also very much about working closely with the community and the business community to make our city centre a green, clean and pleasant place to be and to build a real sense of pride in the area."

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: "Making sure our region is safe for everyone is paramount - and that includes our city centres. There will never be a place for violent crime, that's why initiatives such as this are so important. They provide further opportunities for residents and businesses to raise their concerns and through the Violence Reduction Unit and Northumbria Police, we can take action by working with those causing the most disruption in the city centre. But I also want these individuals to know that if they choose not to engage in the intensive interventions available to them, there will be serious consequences. I firmly believe that the more we work together, the stronger we are in the fight against crime."

Chief Superintendent Barrie Joisce, of Northumbria Police, said: "As a police force, we want to do much more than just serve our communities - we are proud to truly be a part of them. To achieve that you need partnerships - with the community, local authorities, and other support services.

"Working together under one roof with our partners as part of SAIL will only make us stronger in our efforts to ensure Sunderland remains a safe and vibrant city for residents, businesses and visitors alike.

"Not only will this collaboration support us to tackle anti-social behaviour and keep people safe - it will provide a boost to the area and an opportunity to divert young people away from criminality where appropriate.

"The North East has always had a strong sense of community - and this fantastic initiative will prove that we are better when we work together."

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland Business Improvement District, said: "Sunderland BID already works closely with both Sunderland City Council and Northumbria Police and so we know how a partnership approach can make a real difference.

"Ensuring the city centre is a safe and welcoming place to live, work and visit has always been at the heart of everything the BID does so we are delighted to be playing a really active role in this innovative project."