Schemes aimed at getting long-term unemployed back to work
from The Jobs Letter No.72 / 30 January 1998
Two European countries are experimenting with an innovative scheme aimed at getting long-term unemployed back in the public eye and back to work.
Glasgow Works operates a team of city centre guides who patrol the central district in distinctive red jackets. In teams of two, they are given a street to patrol, and have small radios with which they can contact the police, the social services, or other council offices to arrange the removal of rubbish or abandoned cars, or to call up the Glasgow Work graffiti-cleaning team. The guides help tourists, look after lost children, and act as special constables.
The programme is headed by Robert Marshall, who used to work for Shelter, the homeless charity. Marshall: "The key to everything we do is that we start by giving people a job. We don't trawl the unemployment office. We advertise in the local papers, and simply note at the bottom of the ad that you must live in Glasgow and have been out of work for at least a year."
Glasgow Works uses a client's unemployment benefit, topped up by money from the EU social fund and some resources from the local council. On average, participants last about nine months on the job, and almost invariably get offered other full-time employment because of the profile and the image of the city guides stands so high with local employers.
Martin Walker of the Guardian Weekly reports that the guides have had a striking impact on local crime and civic order. Walker: "and having held down a responsible and useful job, the guides themselves have been transformed from being "a problem" as one of the long-term unemployed, to being self-confident and palpably useful citizen."
The Glasgow city guides are similar to the Netherlands "Stadwacht" service, which also gives the long-term unemployed some training, a uniform and a radio and sends them into small neighborhoods to become special constables. The unemployed participants are paid 120% of the minimum wage. The Netherlands is also using the long-term unemployed to bring back tram conductors. Both schemes are what Dutch Employment Minister describes as job creation that reflects Dutch values in "restoring a feeling of safety in our cities"
Source Guardian Weekly 9 November 1997 "Employment initiatives are just the job" by Martin Walker (Europe This Week column)
Back here in NZ, Hamilton Police have just taken on six jobless people on Community Taskforce (CTF) to patrol the inner city and report suspicious activities to the police. They don't have fancy red jackets as in Glasgow Works, nor do the CTF "observers" get involved with tourist help, social services or the local rubbish. Their focus is crime prevention, but they have no power of arrest and are not expected to intervene in crimes. The scheme is modeled on a similar programme that has been running in Lower Hutt for just over a year, and its promoters say the scheme provides a link between the public and the police.
The Police Association says it is opposed to the scheme, saying it creates pseudo police officers. While police officers will not publicly criticise the scheme, many are understood to be unhappy about civilians doing a job they no longer have time for. Labour's police spokesman George Hawkins says the project highlights how under-resourced police officers are. He says that community groups and volunteers are increasingly being asked to make up for shortfalls in the police budget.
Source New Zealand Herald "Jobless walk city beat as deterrent to criminals" by Theresa Garner.