New Strategy Builds on Success of Neighbourhood Policing

Monday, 01 March, 2010

On the day that the Prime Minister set out his vision for how the Government will step up the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour, the Home Secretary has announced new measures to ensure that police and local services work together to tackle antisocial behaviour, boost local confidence and keep neighbourhoods safe.

The "Safe and Confident Neighbourhoods" Strategy builds on the success of neighbourhood policing and will ensure anyone with a concern about crime and antisocial behaviour gets the assistance they need. It will also make it easier for the public to play their part in tackling crime and antisocial behaviour. This will be achieved through:

rolling out a national police non-emergency telephone number - 101 - by 2012, making it as easy to report antisocial behaviour and crime over the phone as it is to report an emergency by dialling 999;

support to enable communities to negotiate and sign neighbourhood agreements on how their local services, including the police, will keep their neighbourhood safe in 12 pathfinder areas across the country - and supporting more than 100 interested areas;

more support for Neighbourhood Watch, including to work with Age UK to recruit older people;

support from the Future Jobs Fund to employ young people in roles, such as police cadets, to support neighbourhood policing;

inviting chairs of magistrates' benches to make appropriate arrangements by which magistrates could be involved with neighbourhood partnerships in their areas, whilst protecting judicial independence and avoiding any perception of bias; and

repeating the successful Community Cashback scheme allowing people a say - including through online voting - on how a further £4million of criminals ill-gotten gains are spent.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"It is a fact that crime has fallen. Overall crime is down by more than a third since 1997 but we must acknowledge that the perception of crime and antisocial behaviour hasn't always followed the same trend.

"Neighbourhood policing has revolutionised the way the police service works with the community to tackle the local crime and antisocial behaviour issues that matter the most.

"The public have a right to have their concerns about crime and antisocial behaviour promptly tackled, but this is not the responsibility of the police alone. We are making it clear that all local services must work together to ensure this happens.

"This new strategy means that all communities can be more confident than ever that we are delivering on our top priority of keeping streets safe."

Other commitments in the strategy include:

extra money for communities with low levels of confidence in their local police and council to vote online on how best to spend money on local projects to tackle crime and ASB issues;

a clear minimum level of local information that should be given to the public including outcomes of high profile court cases, details of out-of-court disposals, asset recovery seizures, community payback results and numbers of offences brought to justice;

making local information on public confidence levels available online, building on the success of the national crimemapper website;

launching a PCSO accreditation to recognise and develop PCSOs working for their communities;

and introducing a new justice outcome webportal so people can access magistrates court outcomes online.

The strategy sets out how the government will build on the success of neighbourhood policing across England and Wales with a commitment to maintaining numbers of both police officers and PCSOs.

Since March 2008 every village, town and city across England and Wales has its own dedicated neighbourhood policing team and there are now more than 16,000 PCSOs visibly patrolling the streets.

The Government has also introduced the Policing Pledge - a clear minimum standard of service to be provided by every police force in England and Wales.

Alongside this, the majority of a new network of 85 victims' and witnesses' champions are now in place to offer valuable support during court proceedings and assistance when cases have concluded.

The strategy has brought together work from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Department for Communities and Local Government and the Attorney General's Office to ensure that the full range of local services are engaged in keeping neighbourhoods safe.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:

"The chance of becoming a victim of crime is the lowest since records began more than 25 years ago and crime has fallen by nearly 40% since 1997. What we do need to do, however, is continue to work to increase confidence in the justice service.

"We are opening up the system, encouraging communities and individuals to get involved, listening and responding to local concerns and giving neighbourhoods a say in how justice is delivered in their area.

"Communities are being told when criminals in their area are caught and punished, and they are helping to select the projects that offenders on community payback work on. The impact of crimes on the local community is also being taken into account for the first time, with the use of Community Impact Statements. These measures, and those in the strategy published today, are designed to increase public confidence by ensuring that justice is not only done but is also seen to be done."

Communities Secretary John Denham said:

"Safe and confident neighbourhoods can not be delivered by the police alone. This strategy calls on councils and other local services to work in partnership with the police and their communities to tackle those crimes and anti social behaviour issues that matter most to local people.

"Local communities are at their strongest and most confident when they are given the opportunity to tackle problems themselves. That is why we are giving support and training to up to 10,000 community champions and front line staff so that they can be confident in working together and doing all they can to deliver safe and confident neighbourhoods."

The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC, who superintends the Crown

Prosecution Service said:

"Prosecutors play a vital role at the sharp end of dealing with local crime. The Community Prosecutor approach sees Prosecution Teams, ensuring that local concerns are taken into account in casework decision-making, and that courts are made aware of the impact that these offences have on the local community. They will also work with the police to 'problem-solve' priority crime and disorder concerns; seek to resolve evidential issues related to them; and on any ancillary orders or out-of-court disposals which may be available and considered suitable in all the circumstances.

"The CPS is currently testing the community prosecutor approach in 49 locations. Subject to the evaluation due in July, the community prosecutor approach will be rolled out across the remainder of England and Wales from October 2010, to achieve national coverage by March 2011.

"CPS prosecutors also have a key role in prosecuting breaches of Antisocial Behaviour Orders. Revised CPS guidance to prosecutors published today will endorse a positive prosecution policy. There is a strong public interest in prosecuting breaches and where there is sufficient evidence, it will normally require a prosecution."

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