Headlines: November 17th, 2005

Local communities are being given a bigger say in how crime and anti-social behaviour are dealt with in their areas and will have the power to trigger action by the police and local authorities to tackle the most persistent problems. The measure is included in the new National Community Safety Plan setting out Government priorities for the next three years.The plan stresses the importance of putting people at the centre of public services and it places a requirement on all public bodies, from central Government to individual neighbourhoods, to work together so local problems cab be tackled responsibly and effectively. It also joins up work across central government, including contributions from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department for Education and Skills, The Department of Health and the Department for Transport.

The plan seeks to foster a new relationship between public services and the communities they serve. It includes commitments to further reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, create safer environments where people like to be and where neighbourhoods are shown respect, to protect the public and build confidence by countering crime and to improve people’s lives so they are less likely to commit offences or re-offend.

It also includes the fourth annual National Policing Plan, setting out national priorities in England and Wales. This will inform local planning and help to ensure citizens are at the heart of policing.

Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, said good progress had been made in dealing with anti-social behaviour and improving the quality of life for communities. “But we need a further step change. Crime is still too high and too many people’s lives and too many businesses continue to be blighted by anti-social behaviour,” she added.

The Minister said that effective partnership working was the only way to improve the safety of our communities and this was a major cultural change in the way Government worked to put people at the heart of public services. “Communities have a vital role in this partnership. We want to empower local people so that they can help determine community safety priorities in their neighbourhoods and work with the police and other local agencies to tackle the local problems they see,” she said.