1. ITV Report

Police donate money taken from 'the hands of criminals' to transform community

Merseyside Police have donated £30,000 to transform derelict land in Speke Photo: Merseyside Police

Merseyside Police has donated £30,000 taken from the hands of criminals to create a 'greener' and safer community in Speke.

The cash was taken from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and now the money will be used to create the new community garden.

'Grow Speke' will transform derelict land once occupied by Speke Boys Club on Little Heath Road, and is set to transform the area that has experienced issues with anti-social behaviour including fly-tipping, arson and drug-taking.

Grow Speke will transform derelict land Credit: Merseyside Police

The donation is part of the force's Community Cash Back Fund and has helped Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside get their plans off the ground.

The land was taken in the control of social housing provider South Liverpool Homes on a long-term lease and anti-social behaviour has reduced.

Work enabled by the donation is well underway to transform the site into a communal garden developed and run by the community where local people can grow plants and food.

The funding has helped unlock more resources to make the community garden a reality, with Jaguar Land Rover and Blackburne House giving further donations.

A team of volunteers have been clearing the site and building raised beds.

Volunteers are currently working to transform the site Credit: Merseyside Police

Grow Speke recently hosted the first in a series of planned activities for the local community, with pumpkin carving and an organised bonfire event attended by around 200 residents giving neighbours and families an opportunity to get together and have fun.

When complete, it will offer horticultural therapy to people with long-term health conditions, provide training to help those out of work and an educational programme for local schools incorporating art and wildlife. It will also provide a space where people can meet, socialise and even cook.

The funding forms part of £225,000 of seized criminal cash given to community groups across Merseyside by the police.

Community Inspector Andy Wignall said:

The plan for a community garden in Speke was really impressive and should help to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of people of all ages.

"This is an area which has had some issues with fly-tipping and small fires. Our hope is that the range of activities available at the garden will mean it is a well-used resource that will transform the area.

"The garden will be a short 15-minute walk for some 12,000 people locally and I am sure many will welcome the fact that this land, which has lain derelict for some time, will be brought back into use."

– Community Inspector Andy Wignall, Merseyside Police

Andy Darron, Chief Executive of Grozone, said:

Groundwork is really excited about the potential of this site – and the difference the project will make to the lives of many people living in the area."

"There is real enthusiasm amongst the local community and partners, and we are hugely grateful for the support of the POCA funding in making all of this happen."

– Andy Darron, CEO Grozone

Chief Constable Andy Cooke said:

It is really satisfying to think that we have been able to seize the ill-gotten financial assets of criminals, who cause such damage to our communities, and reinvest it to provide vital resources to communities across Merseyside.

"Each and every one of the initiatives that have benefited from this money are thoroughly deserving and will put it to very good use. "I am confident their positive impact will be felt for a long time and I look forward to hearing how they progress in the months and years to come."

– Chief Constable Andy Cooke, Merseyside Police