Headlines: July 18th, 2003

The multi-agency cross cutting approaches to deliver sustainable reductions in crime and promote safer, more secure communities are struggling to make a difference. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has found that none of the 374 partnerships provided an excellent service. Of the 24 partnerships that were subject to Best Value inspections only 9 were judged as providing a good service.The partnerships bring together the police and local councils as well as other local public bodies such as health, probation and education. They invite the participation of private, voluntary and community groups and the community itself.

The major obstacles faced by the partnerships are the intransigence of agency cultures, the resulting lack of engagement of key partners and narrow, uncoordinated ‘silo’ working. This is reflected in failure to ‘mainstream’ community safety issues into the objectives and regular functions of the partner agencies and in failure to share data between agencies. Some partnerships have successfully overcome silo working.

Effective problem solving was found to be a common weakness across partnership. Other obstacles to progress include a lack of data from certain agencies and inadequate and inaccurate data when it is available. There is also a shortage of trained and qualified personnel with the time available to undertake detailed analyses of the information. Suitable personnel are in short supply and there is a high turnover in some areas, leading to instability in the partnership.

Strengths were identified in many of the partnerships including representation and commitment from the local authority and police, getting a range of agencies ‘on board’ and linking across plans of different agencies.

Partnerships have devised strategies for crime and disorder reduction but it is impossible to judge whether they have had an impact on crime or on people’s perceptions of crime.