Children who live in fear call for a greater police presence

8th December 2000 at 00:00
A THIRD of London's youngsters say the area they live in sometimes frightens them.

More than 1,000 children aged between 10 and 14 from both inner and outer London, were questioned about how they felt about their neighbourhoods for a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

They cited dark and dingy places, including lifts and stairwells on council estates, as a particular cause of anxiety and called for better lighting and enhanced security, including more CCTV cameras and a greater police presence.

However, despite this only a small minority led highly restricted lives as a result of their own and their parents' fears.

Just under one quarter were highly independent, playing outside without adult supervision, traveling to school unaccompanied and staying home alone.

A report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggested that the conditions on many housing estates were deteriorating because of cuts in local authority services.

David Page, author of Communities in the balance: The reality of social exclusion on housing estates, said: "Service cutbacks, a failure to engage local communities and a breakdown of trust between residents and service providers appeared to reinforce one another and contribute to a vicious circle of disaffection.

"The strong perception of these communities was that public services to estates had declined in volume and quality at a time when the number and needs of disadvantaged households had increased."

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