Community Celebrates 20 Years of Transformation
In 1994 the streets of Balsall Heath were plagued by kerb crawlers, prostitutes and drug dealers. The area had gained an unenviable tag of being one of the most crime-ridden areas not just in Birmingham, but across the country.
Fast forward two decades and the area has been transformed beyond recognition thanks to the tireless work of local residents.
For 20 years the community has taken a stand against the people who travelled to the area to indulge in crime. Often only armed with a notepad and pen the ‘Street Watch volunteers’ passed on the information of those involved in criminal activity to officers based at Edward Road police station.
And as the country marked National Volunteers Week Chief Constable Chris Sims, former Chief Constable Paul Scott-Lee and Chief Superintendent Alex Murray visited the area to thank the people whose work has made Balsall Heath an area that residents can be proud of.
But even as things began to improve residents did not become complacent, to this day the community’s thirst to improve the area still hasn’t been quenched.
Georgina Johnstone, from Birmingham East Police, said: “The efforts of the community and Balsall Heath Forum cannot be underestimated. Their work has received national accolades, but it is locally where there difference has been seen.
“While we don’t want to dwell on the past, the 20th anniversary seemed like an ideal opportunity to reflect and recognise the turnaround. And while new generations will hopefully never experience these issues, it is important they appreciate the work that went before them to make their homes safer.”
Officers are keen for anyone else who wants to join the Street Watch scheme to call police on 101.