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Waltham Abbey, Witham and Colchester to benefit from £2m to make public spaces safer

Waltham Abbey, Witham and Colchester to benefit from £2m to make public spaces safer, especially for women and girls, and reduce crime.

The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, has successfully secured £1,182,795 of funding from the Home Office’s Safer Streets fund to improve public safety in Waltham Abbey, Witham and Colchester.

This government funding will be matched by £819,643 from partners including Epping Forest District Council, Braintree District Council and Colchester Borough Council to bring the total funding to £2,002,438.

The funding will be focused on the Ninefields Estate in Waltham Abbey, Witham Town Centre, the Greenstead area of Colchester and Colchester Town Centre.

The successful bids were developed in partnership with Epping Forest District Council, Braintree District Council and Colchester Borough Council and included involvement from wider community representatives.

Each project includes a range of activity to improve the physical environment, promote community involvement, and create safer spaces. This includes investment in redesigning walkways, lighting, CCTV and activities to strengthening community engagement including with schools, young people and businesses.

Mr Hirst said “We all want to see less crime in our communities and this focused investment will mean we can drive down neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour in these areas.

“We have been told by communities that there is a real fear of crime in these areas, especially among women and girls. Nobody should feel afraid to go out in their community and this work will help create safer spaces which everybody can enjoy without fear.

“We have already successfully run similar projects in the Bunny Walks area of Chelmsford and Gray’s Town Centre in Thurrock. These projects have made a real difference and I am delighted we have secured the funding for Waltham Abbey, Witham and Colchester.

“I will continue to work with local councils to identify and target areas where we can drive down crime and reduce the fear of crime, especially among women and girls. I will be announcing further significant investment in projects like these in other locations in Essex later this year.”

Essex was one of the few areas to successfully secure all four bids they submitted and was recognised by the Home Office team for their understanding and insight of the issues in these communities, as well as the quality of the proposed activities.

Ninefields Housing Estate, Waltham Abbey (£338,000 Safer Streets funding plus £169,000 match funding from Epping Forest District Council)


The area has suffered from anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and drug offences. To tackle these the projects are focused on improving the safety of buildings, enhancing communal areas to encourage community ownership and reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour and fostering long term community involvement. Proposed activities include:


  • Improved signage and navigation to create a sense of community.
  • Changes to open communal areas to secure access, reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour and provide greater visibility.
  • Installation of a CCTV system.
  • Epping Forest District Council Community Action Days to improve feelings of ownership and responsibility in the area, enhance community cohesion and raise awareness of crime prevention activity, encourage resilience and crime reporting.
  • Work with community, businesses and local partners.
  • Campaigns and clear-up events to deter fly-tipping.
  • Improvements to bin storage areas to reduce ASB, vandalism and burglary by making the areas less accessible.


“Thanks to the support of our PFCC Commissioner Roger Hirst, the latest funding from the Home Office moves us yet another step forward in the regeneration and renewal for the Ninefields community.


“At Epping Forest District Council we work hard with our partners to improve the social and economic wellbeing of our Ninefields residents. This latest funding announcement will be another tremendous boost to our work.” said Holly Whitbread, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community.

“The money announced will build on our investments. We opened a brand new £10m leisure centre in 2018. Two sensory gardens have been created, adults and children have taken part in community clean-ups and more recently a multi-agency conference was held addressing health and wellbeing inequalities of Ninefields residents. We have recently joined a new community hub offering advice and support with the CAB and other organisations through our new leisure centre.”

“But there is still much to be done, taking Ninefields to another level by fostering more sense of community, developing opportunities for young and old, reducing crime, and boosting wellbeing across the estate.”

Collingwood Road and River Walkway area of Witham Town Centre (£297,202 Safer Streets funding plus £150.069 match funding from partners including Braintree District Council, Fusion, Essex Police, CARA, Witham Town Council and Eastlight)


The area has a higher than Essex average crime level and perceptions of anti-social behaviour have driven a fear of crime in the area. The focus of the bid was on reducing violence against women and girls, anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood crime. To achieve these changes the projects are focused on improving visibility in the area, enhancing communal areas and signage to encourage community use and engaging with young people to reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour.


Proposed activities include:


  • Installation of new CCTV cameras.
  • Improvement of landscaping to increase visibility along pathway, alleys and access routes.
  • Improved signage to encourage greater public use.
  • Installation of lockable metal gates and intercom systems for residents at key building locations.
  • Promotion of Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, including a Dog Watch Scheme for local dog walkers.
  • Quarterly newsletters to inform, engage and empower the local community.
  • Property marking events.
  • Sports outreach diversionary activities to offer a positive alternative for young people.


Cllr Frankie Ricci, Chairman of the Braintree District Community Safety Partnership and Cabinet Member for Communities at Braintree District Council said:

“I am really pleased to hear that the bid to the Home Office Safer Streets fund to improve feelings of safety in a specific area of Witham has been successful.  Working with the PFCC a significant amount of funding has been secured to tackle key issues in Witham Central including, anti-social behaviour and criminal activity and to make people (and in particular women) feel safer travelling through the area at night.

“Working in partnership with the PFCC and in consultation with partners such as Witham Town Council, Eastlight Community Homes and Greater Anglia – we have identified how we can work together to provide solutions to enable Witham residents to feel safer.”

Greenstead, Colchester (£264,043 Safer Streets funding plus £226,492 match funding from Colchester Borough Council).

The estate design means there is a lot of alleys which are badly lit and create the fear of crime within the local community. To reduce the fear of crime the project will improve shared areas which have previously been locations for anti-social behaviour and crime, improve the visibility and presentation of key locations, foster a stronger community spirit, and engage with the community to promote a sense of ownership. Proposed activities include:

  • Consider installing mobile re-deployable CCTV camera system.
  • Arranging community action days.
  • Reviewing existing green spaces across the estate with a view to. improve landscaping along pedestrian pathways and communal garden areas, to provide better visibility.
  • Implementing a dedicated, full time neighbourhood warden.
  • Delivering of an ambassador programme to be rolled out across secondary schools.
  • Youth Projects aimed at young females who are involved in ASB and serious youth violence.
  • A series of engagement events at the University of Essex.
  • Local projects to increase safety along certain routes, benefiting residents and students.

 Town Centre, Colchester (£283,555 Safer Streets funding plus £226,492 match funding from Colchester Borough Council) There is a higher-than-average level of anti-social behaviour and sexual offences compared to the rest of Essex. There is a significant fear of crime, especially among women, driven by reports of anti-social behaviour. The project will engage with young people in and around the area to foster long term changes to behaviour, it will work with businesses and residents to engage the wider community in tackling inappropriate and criminal activity and foster an strong network of partners committed to creating a safer environment. Proposed activities include:

  • A ‘Not Me Too’ Programme providing interactive theatre for young people, adults, community groups and professionals to raise awareness and promote positive changes to behaviour to tackle violence against women and girls.
  • Development of a young person ambassador programme.
  • A Business Partnership Portal to increase interventions to target ASB, provide prevention advice and support the business community.
  • Vulnerability training for 120+ Colchester businesses, transport providers, Street Pastors, SOS bus staff, venue doorstaff, late night food, events teams to strengthening understanding of vulnerability and how they can support people.
  • A Town Centre Crime Reduction Programme to target partnership activity to lower crime and ASB, including Purple Flag accreditation.
  • Introduce a Best Bar None (BBN) scheme to drive down anti-social behaviour and improve engagement with licensed premises.
  • An Enhanced Ask for Angela scheme by providing training to venues on how to offer appropriate assistance.
  • Nights of Action including high visibility activity to provide reassurance.
  • Colchester SOS Bus

Cllr Julie Young, Colchester Borough Council’s portfolio holder for Housing and Communities, said: “It’s fantastic news that we can invest significant new money in a wide range of initiatives that will help tackle many of the concerns people have about crime and antisocial behaviour in their area.

“By drastically stepping up the action we take to deter the small but disruptive number of people who are blighting our neighbourhoods and the town centre, we can better prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and make Colchester an even safer and more attractive place for residents and visitors alike.”

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