CAMPAIGNS: Local Government PR - Boosting safety levels in Hackney

Client: Dalston City Partnership and Heart of Hackney regeneration agencies

Client: Dalston City Partnership and Heart of Hackney regeneration


Campaign: Hackney Safer Streets Campaign

PR Team: In-house, London Borough of Hackney

Timescale: Mar - Dec 1997

Cost: pounds 28,000

Hackney has long been one of London’s more deprived boroughs and suffers

from inevitably high crime figures.

In 1996 Hackney Council’s first ever Residents’ Attitude Survey

identified rising crime as the issue most concerning local people.

Another report, an audit of local crime by the charity Crime Concern,

showed which areas of the borough had the highest figures for street

crime and painted a profile of typical victims and perpetrators.

Spearheaded by Hackney Council, the project partners Crime Concern, The

Metropolitan Police and the regeneration agencies, Dalston City

Partnership and Heart of Hackney, decided to target the criminals

themselves, their associates and families - the first time anyone has

taken such an approach in the UK.


To reduce street robbery and the fear of attack. To tell those already

involved in criminal activities, or thinking about it, that mugging does

not pay. To reassure the public that action was being taken. To build

better relationships between agencies involved in community safety,

particularly between the Council and the police.


The partners agreed a campaign plan which Hackney Council’s public

relations and communications team then put it into action. The main

slogan was ’Respect Not Robbery’.

High visibility at street level was very important. The campaign ran in

four phases, each with a different poster up on around 150 sites and on


The borough community safety co-ordinator visited businesses in worst

hit areas, distributing postcards and stickers to go in shop


Advertisements and supporting editorial went into Hackney Today, the

Council magazine which is delivered to 91,000 homes and businesses in


Although the Council continuously updated newsletters and leaflets, it

was important to reach less literate residents. So the visuals were made

very strong and each partner used their contacts to distribute them

everywhere from laundrettes to taxi offices.

Young people were a key audience. Kiss 100 and Choice FM produced three

radio ads at cost price, starring a real-life criminal uttering words of

warning. Both stations backed the campaign with regular news


Information packs also went into schools to back up classroom


At the Hackney Show, which attracted 30,000 people, local graffiti

artists and young visitors painted a huge mural with the campaign

slogan. This will soon go up close to the town hall.

Press releases went out at every stage of the campaign and elicited wide

media coverage.


Hackney Council surveyed around 1,000 residents and businesses in the

four main areas after each stage of the campaign, at a cost of pounds


This showed a rise in confidence. The second Hackney Residents’

Attitudes Survey, in November 1997, also showed a ten per cent fall,

year-on-year, in the level of concern about violence against the person

to 42 per cent.

The seasonally adjusted reported crime figures dropped by almost 20 per

cent, according to the police.


An unlikely proposition, targeting criminals with a community campaign,

seems to have worked. The reduction in reported crime speaks for itself,

and there is a new co-operative relationship between the Council and the

local police force. It has prompted a fresh look at community safety,

with a new three-strong specialist unit, including a policeman, at the

Council and a massive consultation exercise with local people which will

produce a new strategy by spring 1999.

If a measure of success is long-lasting change, then this campaign, and

the local people of Hackney, are winners.

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