‘ I often felt unsafe’: Greenstead residents express concerns over safety

Salary Brook Trail, Greenstead, picture by Gina Williams

Following recent complaints of students ‘raising hell’ on a Greenstead estate, there is debate about the safety of the Greenstead area alongside its criminal history and high crime rates. 

Salary Brook Trail is a path leading from Greenstead to the University of Essex campus, so is frequently used by students. It has been the centre of crime in the area throughout the years, such as the 2014 murder of student Nahid Almanea, as well as multiple robberies. 

A third-year student at the University of Essex spent their second year living on Tangerine Close in Greenstead. They expressed their concerns about safety knowing that the area has a negative reputation: “I often felt unsafe living there and travelling to and from the university.” The student also mentioned about being followed home one time which added to their concerns. 

The student, along with many others, had chosen to live in Greenstead because of its cheaper rental prices, especially with the rising pressures of the cost-of-living crisis. Due to the ‘lack of feeling safe’, they have chosen to live on campus for their third year, believing it has a higher level of security. 

When asked what the council could do to improve the safety of the area, the student said: “I think the council should invest in keeping streetlights on for the duration of the night and create more neighbourhood watch areas around Greenstead so people feel more secure.” 

A bus provider has also warned that bus routes throughout Greenstead could be suspended if anti-social behaviour against their vehicles continues. Speaking to the Colchester Gazette last month, First Bus staff manager Kai Wilson said: “This criminal activity cannot be tolerated. 

“I want to apologise in advance and confirm that journeys may be cancelled at short notice if this anti-social behaviour continues.” 

Colchester Borough Council has reported that money from the Home Office’s Safer Streets fund will see around £500,000 put into improving safety within Greenstead, including a new mobile CCTV system, employing a full-time neighbourhood warden and improving visibility along pedestrian pathways.  

Councillor Julie Young, Colchester Borough Council’s portfolio holder for Housing and Communities, says that the new funding will “better prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and make Colchester an even safer and more attractive place for residents and visitors alike.” 

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst said: “Nobody should feel afraid to go out in their community and this work will help create safer spaces which everybody can enjoy without fear. 

“I will continue to work with local councils to identify and target areas where we can drive down crime and reduce the fear of crime, especially among women and girls.”

The entrance to one end of Salary Brook Trail in the evening, Greenstead, Gina Williams