Headlines: May 17th, 2006

The Audit Commission has called on crime and disorder reduction partnerships and community safety partnerships to get a better understanding of their individual neighbourhoods and the problems that matter to local people and to get smarter in using their resources. In the report ‘Neighbourhood Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour: Making Places Safer through Improved Local Working’ the Commission presents research findings that show graffiti, dirty streets, abandoned cars and noisy neighbours have a greater impact on people’s perception of how safe they are because their lives are affected by what happens on their street, housing estate or bus route.The Commission found that community safety approaches are still being targeted at council-wide areas and take too broad-brush an approach. It calls on crime reduction and community safety partnerships, which are made up of representatives from local councils, police and other local agencies such as NHS trusts and fire services, to tailor crime and safety approaches to neighbourhoods. Partnerships are urged to take into account the unique mix of people, amenities, transport links, and leisure facilities as well as the level of input and support from the police, council, schools, social and health services. The Commission recommends partnerships should identify the real priorities of neighbourhoods and target their combined resources appropriately.

Partnerships could be more effective if they improved the collection and analysis of data and particularly if they made use of local knowledge. Research revealed that only one in ten of partnerships had adopted the principles of the police national intelligence framework that ensures information is fully researched and analysed. Using this model would help in steering a more strategic course and assist in risk management.

The Commission was also critical of failure to make use of local information. Some 60% of partnerships use information from neighbourhood wardens, but only 46% had information from housing officers. There are also problems with methods of recording anti social behaviour with only 30% using Home Office categories. There were also instances where information exchanges between partnerships and neighbourhood watch and youth offending teams were at a summary level which made risk analysis impossible.

The report sets out recommendations for improving neighbourhood action. They include empowering frontline workers to identify and address particular issues and talking to residents to build confidence that action is leading to results.

Link: http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/