Sheffield crime down after flats investment

Transformed: The regeneration of Sheffield's Park Hil flats has cut crime in the area.
Transformed: The regeneration of Sheffield's Park Hil flats has cut crime in the area.

STUDENTS in Sheffield have devised their own regeneration plan designed to tackle some of the city’s biggest problems.

A group of third years studying for an economics degree at Sheffield University presented projects to address problems such as homelessness and lack of central business to city bosses.

Expert: Professor David Cuberes

Expert: Professor David Cuberes

Their work was part of a new module led by Professor David Cuberes, an expert in urban economics and a consultant for the World Bank.

A total of 15 proposals were put to a panel of judges including Sheffield Council representatives – with a study into the redevelopment of Park Hill’s impact on crime rates crowned winner.

The students found that, following work to transform the site, rates in the area have fallen from a peak of 624 in 2006 down to 309 in 2011, and just 224 so far in 2012.

Results were compared to a similar project in Hulme, Manchester and showed further investment would result not only in lower crime rates, but also see a reduction in other social problems.

'No go zone': Park Hill flats pictured in 1986.

'No go zone': Park Hill flats pictured in 1986.

Student Robert Sankey, aged 22, said: “Sheffield is a safe city, but every city has problems with crime.

“Research has shown that spending alone is not enough to tackle crime levels, it has to be well thought-out and targeted in the right areas.”

Fellow student Peter Gibson, 21, said: “Looking at the example in Hume, it wasn’t just redeveloping the flats – they built a nursery, shops, restaurants, creating a proper community.

“That’s the kind of thing that makes a difference – not just to crime rates, but things like unemployment, anti-social behaviour, deprivation.”

Robert said: “We’re hoping the council will see that what they’ve done so far is working, and that they should continue and do more.

“This area of the city was once a no-go zone, but it is an iconic feature of the landscape and could be the heart of the community, if the council continues to invest and fight against the effects of the recession.”

Prof Cuberes said: “One of the main aims of this new module was to engage students with real life problems.

“In particular, they were asked to identify and tackle a current urban problem in the city of Sheffield.

“Working in groups meant the students could enhance the generation of interesting problems and creative solutions.

“The winning project carried out a thoughtful and careful analysis of the real effects economic regeneration can have on a city’s level of crime.”