Leeds residents fear venturing to certain parts of the city because they are scared they will be a victim of crime, according to new figures.
Nearly 80 per cent of Yorkshire Evening Post readers claim they avoid certain areas in the city that they regard as trouble hotspots.
But more than half say that Leeds is safer than other cities across the United Kingdom.
The YEP’s Voice of Leeds 2014 survey reveals 57 per cent of readers think crime is a major issue in Leeds and 42 per cent say they don’t feel safe when they are out and about in the city.
But 57 per cent of respondents say that the city is safer than it used to be.
Readers say improved safety in certain parts of Leeds and a greater police presence are the key to boosting their confidence.
But police chiefs in West Yorkshire claim work is going on behind the scenes in neighbourhoods across Leeds to help reduce crime rates.
They say their efforts have seen a 17.8 per cent fall in the number of burglaries in Leeds and a 13.9 per cent drop in anti-social behaviour.
A new hate crime strategy has been launched in the city alongside a new domestic violence plan to help victims.
The YEP’s Voice of Leeds Survey 2014 also reveals that nearly half of readers don’t know their neighbours very well.
Around 70 per cent say their neighbourhoods are clean and tidy and the same number say that the changes of bin collections from once a week to once a fortnight has not caused them any problems.
Leeds City Council bosses say the introduction of alternate weekly collections has seen a reduction of residual waste of over 6,000 tonnes.
There has also been an increase in the tonnage of materials recycled of over 4,400 tonnes in areas that have fortnightly collections – meaning a reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill.
The authority claims the move has created saving of more than £500,000 which can be spent on other services.
Brave pensioner Eamonn Durcan stood up to the “vicious thugs” who held him at knife point while they ransacked his house.
CCTV footage shows how 80-year-old tried to fight back before he was bundled by two masked men into his home on Lea Farm Drive on the Hawksworth estate in Leeds.
Once inside he was threatened and pinned down by one, who held a knife to his cheek.
The pair escaped with cash and valuables – including wedding jewellery belonging to Mr Durcan’s late wife, Daphne.
But throughout the ten-minute ordeal the former HGV driver said he continued to try to fight to protect his home of 45 years.
Speaking about the results of the YEP’s Voice of Leeds Survey the pensioner said he still doesn’t avoid certain places in Leeds for fear of being a victim of crime.
He said: “I feel quite safe. I know for a fact where I live there are a lot of people who are wary on a night.
“I think people have the wrong impression of Leeds.
“I don’t walk around on a night now and I have a pair of boots on instead of my slippers.
“People just couldn’t understand why that happened to me but I am not surprised by the figures.
“People were disgusted when they found out and I know that a few people keep an eye on me now.”
Community champion Yvonne Crowther is best known for her campaign to clean up the Cardinal estate in Beeston.
She runs the Cardinal Youth Club and is also chairwoman of the White Rose Tenants’ and Residents’ Association.
She met then Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006 to talk about her ideas as he launched the Respect campaign.
And she said that people have the “wrong perceptions” when it comes to talking about crime in Leeds.
The Pride of Britain Award winner said: “The figures don’t surprise me at all. People still have that perception that Leeds in unsafe.
“It is so quiet around here that it is unbelievable.
“We know that crime is on the decrease but people get the wrong idea.”
She said if people got involved in their local communities they would be able to see first hand the work that goes on behind the scenes to make them safer.
She said: “We are still trying to get communities involved in different things.
“I think people need to make it their duty and find out what is going on in their communities and become involved. Once you become involved and contribute you feel safer yourself.”
THE POLICE COMMISSIONER
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “A key outcome in my Police and Crime Plan is feeling safe and the office has been working with a university to find a reliable way of measuring feelings of safety that should allow us to understand exactly what is driving those feelings and subsequently how we can help people feel more safe.
“In November and December last year we spoke to in excess of 1,000 people and one of the topics was feelings of safety. Over 300 people from Leeds district responded, with 95 per cent of those responding saying they felt safe during the day, dropping to 77 per cent after dark. Over three quarters of respondents said they felt as safe this year as they did the year before.
“In terms of our monthly public perception survey in Leeds only 15 per cent of respondents felt crime levels had increased and only 11 per cent felt anti-social behaviour levels had increased. Fifty nine per cent felt the police do an excellent or good job compared to 54 per cent across West Yorkshire, indicating that respondents from Leeds have more confidence in the police. Results within the different areas of Leeds do differ to the district as a whole, with some areas perceiving higher crime and ASB than others, and some having lower confidence than others.
“Crime prevention is at the forefront of efforts.”
WEST YORKSHIRE POLICE
Superintendent Sam Millar, who heads Leeds district community safety partnership Safer Leeds, said: “Burglaries have never been at a lower level than they are at the moment.
“We have seen a 30 per cent reduction for Leeds as a city and we want to give people lots of reassurance about this.
“Anti-social behaviour has gone down by 13.9 per cent in Leeds and that is a real success story.
“This July we reduced calls into our contact centre by over 600. That means 600 people didn’t report anti-social behaviour in the community.
“We have been working hard to get that assessment early and understand the level of risk.
“I think confidence comes from people believing their voice is heard.”
She said officers have recently worked with university students in Hyde Park and Headingley to advise them about how to contact police.
Supt Millar added: “The police in Leeds are passionate about trying to get our service so it meets the needs of the city.
“We are a big organisation with a big city to police.
“We need the community to support us and feedback issues.
“If something doesn’t work we need to hear it and address it.
“We cannot do this without the community. We need to work together, they need to talk to us and have a voice to deliver what communities want.
“The people who really police their communities are the communities.”
Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for cleaner, safer and stronger communities, said: “We are working hard as a council and with partners including the police at Safer Leeds to tackle and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in Leeds.
“A range of initiatives are currently being undertaken as part of our on-going strategy, and I believe we are moving in the right direction.
“This includes reducing burglary, launching a new Hate Crime Strategy, with a revised domestic violence strategy to follow, and securing an injunction order to tackle persistent begging.
“On the environment, the recent introduction of alternate bin collections has broadly being welcomed, and this scheme will continue to play a key role in boosting our overall recycling rate in the city which for 2013-2014 was 43.7 per cent. This was 3.4 per cent higher than the previous year and the best performance the council has ever achieved.
“Keeping our communities clean and tidy remains one of our key aims, and I’m pleased our service has received a positive response in the survey.
“Residents have a vital role to play in assisting our work, whether it is by not dropping litter or chewing gum, or making sure their rubbish is put in the right colour bin. The littlest things really do help, and ensure that more of our resources can be used to support other green services.”