Care and Control – Challenges for Creating Safe and Sustainable Communities

The title of this article ‘care and control’ has come from my experience and practice in responding to the very complex issues of community safety.  Over the last fifteen years, myself and other community workers in the South West Inner City of Dublin have been engaged in regeneration processes in the various local authority flat complexes where community safety has been a key issue and core element of our work.  This work is complex and fraught with risks for community workers and the participation of residents in community safety processes.  The work by its very nature tends to be private and not public.  The experiences of the past however were very public responses most notably the anti-drugs movement in the 1980s/19990s and by its very private individual nature, poses problems for collective community responses.

This article will look at how communities have responded to the continuous challenges of community safety, gang culture and anti-social behaviour and the difficulties that community workers face in responding to the many complex issues, particularly the ‘fear factor’ in communities. I will give an analysis of past experiences including the role that the media plays and I will argue the importance of having a care and control approach in creating safe and sustainable communities where human rights are central.

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