On the 19th of April 2004 a seminar entitled Developing Integrated Policing was held in Blanchardstown. This seminar was organised by Blanchardstown Local Drug & Alcohol Task Force (BLDATF) in association with Greater Blanchardstown Response to Drugs, Combat Poverty Agency and Blanchardstown Revitalising Areas by Planning Investment and Development (RAPID).
Following this seminar the Justice and Supply sub-group of BLDATF was successful in its application for funding for the employment of a Co-ordinator to establish a Community Policing Forum in Blanchardstown. Following on from the employment of the Co-ordinator, a Management Committee was established consisting of Senior Gardaí, Senior Fingal County Council, RAPID, BLDATF, and Justice and Supply representatives. Subsequently, the Management Committee decided to change the name of the project to Safer Blanchardstown in order to reflect the fact that there is more to community safety than straightforward policing.
What is needed is a joint approach to problem solving that includes the Council, the Gardaí, the Community and other relevant stakeholders. In other words we are all part of the problem: the Community, the Gardaí and the Council. Joint problems need effective solutions that will bring about lasting change and benefit. So, a collective approach to working together to resolve common issues was needed and Safer Blanchardstown was tasked with developing a collective response to the many problems facing residents of Blanchardstown.
The areas of operation of Safer Blanchardstown are the same as that of the BLDATF which are: Corduff, Mulhuddart, Blakestown, Mountview, Hartstown and Huntstown. The Board of Management of Safer Blanchardstown is responsible for the overall running and direction of the programme. The Board was origionally made up of representatives from: Gardaí, Fingal County Council, BLDATF, 2 elected Public Representatives and 4 elected Community Representatives. Recently the Board was expanded to include representatives from Mulhuddart Community Drug & Alcohol Team and WEB (Youth Diversion Programme).
In addition to the overall direction of Safer Blanchardstown, the Board also considers the more complex issues raised at public meetings which cannot be addressed locally and may forward recommendations to the Joint Policing Committee (JPC). Safer Blanchardstown reports to the JPC on a quarterly basis. Examples of recommendations made to JPC are: Cash For Gold, Young People's Access to Alcohol, and the appointment of Education Welfare Officers in Dublin 15. In addition, Safer Blanchardstown has made a number of submissions to the White Paper on Crime (not yet published).
Safer Blanchardstown has also been involved in many other partner and community based initiatives. For example, Suicide Awareness Dublin 15, Domestic Violence Working Group, Corduff, Mulhuddart, Mountview/Blakestown task groups. Safer Blanchardstown also sits on the Boards of local schools and resident associations in order to remain aware of developing and emerging issues within the community.
Safer Blanchardstown has also been heavily involved in researching particular issues that affect the wider Dublin 15 community and developing initiatives to help tackle such issues. We have researched Young People's Access to Alcohol and, in partnership with other stakeholders, have developed training for the licensed trade and a health and awareness initiative around young people and alcohol.
Drug debt intimidation is another area which Safer Blanchardstown was directed by the Board to research and develop interventions that may undermine this behaviour. The resulting research Melting the Iceberg of Fear: A Collective Response was published in 2013 (revised in 2014). From this research, Safer Blanchardstown has developed the Think Before You Buy campaign. The research reports and full details of this campaign along with supporting posters, videos, teachers/youth worker training pack can be found here and on Twitter @thinkBe4YouBuy