A ground-breaking project launched last December to make Sunderland city centre safer, more attractive and more vibrant has seen an 82 per cent drop in rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour in its first year.

Based in the heart of the city centre, the SAIL Project – an acronym for Sunderland Altogether Improving Lives – brings together partner agencies under one roof, with the aim of making a real and lasting difference to people’s lives.

Partners operating from its High Street West offices include representatives from Sunderland City Council, Northumbria Police, Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, Sunderland BID (Business Improvement District) and support services.

Figures from the project’s first year show:

• Rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour down by 82%
• Alcohol related ASB down by 69%
• Public Disorder down 21%
• Burglary down 62%
• Vehicle crime down 50%

But the project’s remit is much wider than tackling crime and anti social behaviour. It includes working hard to make sure the city centre is looking its best, from tackling graffiti and chewing gum to hot washing pavements and looking after the colourful planters that help the area to look more vibrant.

The team also works with health partners, Gentoo, Sunniside Regeneration partners and community organisations among others, to deliver on a range of priorities including improving health and wellbeing; improving housing and increasing community engagement.

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The SAIL Project has had a huge impact in making our city centre a more attractive and safer place to be. We want people to enjoy themselves and to feel safe when they visit our centre, that’s something that’s really important for our residents. So this had been very much about listening and responding to their concerns and those of businesses based in the city centre.

“I’m delighted to say the figures speak for themselves in terms of the reductions in crime and anti-social behaviour we have seen over the last 12 months which are nothing short of remarkable. But it’s about so much more, including generating a real sense of pride in the city centre and the exciting developments underway as part of its transformation. Businesses also tell us the project is making a very real difference to the city centre.”

The SAIL project includes a four strong team of dedicated staff funded by the Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit, who play a vital role in working with young people involved in offending in the city centre, offering them support and the chance to divert away from criminality in the future.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I am delighted with the progress that has been made through the SAIL Project – you told us what was wrong, and we listened. One year on, and we can now clearly see the impact, with rates of violence reducing within the city centre, thanks to this targeted intervention.”

“The Violence Reduction Unit, alongside a range of partners, will continue to work with identified individuals to improve their behaviour and put an end to the disruption they cause. But, for those who refuse to engage, enforcement action will be taken. So if you try to bring chaos to our city centres, take this as a warning.”

“Now, as the festive period gets underway, the project will expand its remit to have a key focus on the city’s night time economy. So, if you have plans in place, rest assured that with our dedicated teams and increased visibility, we will continue to throw everything we have at tackling crime and improving local areas.”

Chief Inspector Neil Hall, of Northumbria Police, said: “I’m delighted to see our SAIL partnership continues to have such a positive impact in the city centre.

“The figures really do speak volumes as we continue to work collaboratively to ensure Sunderland remains a safe and vibrant city for residents, businesses and visitors alike.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their continued dedication and efforts over the last 12 months to bring crime levels down. I would also like to reassure the public that our work is far from over, and we remain committed to tackling any pockets of criminality and keeping people safe.

“The North East has always had a strong sense of community, and this fantastic initiative showcases that we are better when we work together.”

Sharon Appleby, Chief Executive of Sunderland BID, said: “The amazing success of the SAIL Project is positive proof of what key organisations working together with common aims can achieve.

“This is such good news for the city centre and plays into so many of the BID’s priorities – to make Sunderland a welcoming and safe place for both local residents and visitors.

“We can now build on this success going forward and create even more initiatives in the future.”

Not content to rest on its laurels, the SAIL Project is also making plans for its second year. These include deploying health and taxi marshals over the festive period to allow residents and visitors to enjoy the night-time economy safely and more days of action to target specific areas and respond to emerging trends as well as providing a visible presence in the city centre.

It is also looking to strengthen its youth provision offer in the city centre with an additional 4 youth workers on a Friday evening, has an ongoing clothing collection for vulnerable teens and is supporting police cadets in visits to local schools.