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A new initiative has launched where all Year 6 and Secondary School students in the borough will receive Travel Card holders to raise awareness of the importance of staying safe when out and about.

In the past 18 months Richmond has seen an increase in the number of personal robberies with nearly half of all robberies targeted at 11-18 year olds. The community has responded by creating a working group called ‘Keeping Richmond Safe For Everyone - Richmond Robberies’ to tackle youth mugging, and robberies are now reducing as a result.

The working group includes representatives from the Council’s Community Safety Service, Achieving for Children, the Metropolitan Police Service , and various local community groups, including ‘Mothers Against Mugging’.

The group’s crime awareness and prevention campaign - Street W!se - will see representatives from Keeping Richmond Safe For Everyone and the local police visit all secondary and primary schools in the borough to hand out a Street W!se Travel Card holder and deliver 15 minute safety presentations - addressing over 20,000 young people.

The holders are branded with helpful reminders to encourage young people to ‘be alert’ so that they ‘don’t get hurt’ by keeping their ‘eyes up - not on your phone’ and ‘ears open - not plugged in’. The holder also has emergency police contact numbers to call or text when incidents do occur.

Barbara Elliott, Co-Chair of Mothers Against Mugging and member of Keeping Richmond Safe For Everyone - Richmond Robberies, said:

“We are proud to be working with our local police, the Council and the wider local community to rollout this initiative.

“Our 15 minute assemblies aim to provide our young people with simple tips on how to stay safe on our streets and what to do and who to call, if something happens. This includes putting away phones and other valuables, paying attention to their surroundings, moving to a safe place and reporting an incident swiftly if something does happen.”

“We are aware that most young people will still walk around with phones in their hands and earphones in - but if the Street W!se campaign makes our children think twice about their surroundings and know what to do if they do experience trouble, then it is a success.”

Robyn Thomas, Head of Community Safety, added:

“It is fantastic to see the communities come together with the Council and Police to tackle the issue of robberies of school children. The travel card holders are bright and bold with some simple messages to keep people safe. I am confident that the Street W!se initiative will reinforce safety messages to young people so they are more aware, alert of their surroundings and better equipped to know what to do if something happens.”

– from a Richmond Council press release - 29 November 2019