04 July 2023

A GROUND-BREAKING project set up to make Sunderland city centre safer, cleaner and more vibrant has already seen a 73 per cent drop in rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour in its first six months.

Based in the heart of the city centre, SAIL is made up of a number of representatives including Neighbourhood Enforcement, Housing and Environmental Service areas from within Sunderland City Council together with officers from Northumbria Police, Youth Offending Service, Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, Change Grow Live, Tyne and Wear Fire Rescue Service, Gentoo, All Together Better Sunderland and Sunderland BID (Business Improvement District)  

The SAIL Project, an acronym for Sunderland Altogether Improving Lives, was launched last December with the aim of making a real and lasting difference to people's lives by bringing together the expertise of partner agencies under one roof.

New figures released to tie in with the start of Anti Social Behaviour Awareness Week show that since the SAIL project was launched:

- Rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour is down by 73%
-  Youth related ASB is down by 40%
-  Alcohol related ASB is down by 48%
-  Street drinking is down by 48%
-  Begging/vagrancy is down by 20%
-  All ASB is down by 5%

During the same period vehicle crime in the city centre also came down by 63%, public disorder by 26% and burglary down by 56%.

Councillor Claire Rowntree, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Cabinet member for Clean Green City, said: "The figures speak volumes in terms of the hugely positive impact the SAIL Project is having on our city centre. This is about listening to and responding to the concerns of residents and businesses, and using effective partnership working to make the city centre an altogether cleaner, more vibrant and safer place to be."   

The SAIL project also includes 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.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: "The results really do speak for themselves, and this fantastic project is truly making a difference in Sunderland. Our city centres have always been something to be proud of, they offer us everything we need on our doorstep. But we also want them to be a safe place to live, work and visit. That's why we will continue to do all we can through projects like this and by working closely with key partners to tackle violent crime together."

Chief Superintendent Barrie Joisce, who is Area Commander for South Tyneside and Sunderland at Northumbria Police, said: "It really is incredible to see the SAIL project go from strength to strength – and I am proud of the team’s success in such a short space of time.

"These brilliant results are testament to the continued hard work of our officers and partners to crackdown on pockets of anti-social behaviour in the area, so everyone can enjoy what the city centre has to offer.

"Our work is far from over, and we will continue to work hand-in-hand with the local authority and support services to address any concerns and, where appropriate, divert young people away from criminality."

Set up in response to feedback from city centre stakeholders, business owners and visitors about anti-social behaviour in the city centre, SAIL also works closely with the business community in the city centre and Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID)

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland Business Improvement District (BID),  said: "The increase in visibility of police officers and neighbourhood wardens definitely acts as a deterrent for those wishing to cause trouble and it gives reassurance to business that we are taking any concerns seriously. 

"The work that SAIL is doing with young people is also to be commended and is very much appreciated by the business community."

City centre businesses also say the SAIL project has made a real difference in making the city centre feel safer and more vibrant.

Vicki Medhurst, Acting General Manager, Sunderland Empire, said: "The Sunderland Empire is delighted to see the impact that SAIL is having and is grateful for the successful initiatives that are in place. Visitors to our venue can attend knowing they can feel safer and supported through the visibility of local officers and neighbourhood wardens, following on from the hard work and investment from our partner agencies."

The SAIL project 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.

It also 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.