Community safety in Fenland – a good partnership but where is the VCS?

Fenland Community Safety Partnership (CSP) July 2013

This was a first for me and for CCVS as we received our first invite to the Fenland Community Safety Partnership. There seemed to be a genuine desire to include us and to work with the sector and this can only be applauded.
The first thing to say was that the meeting was well attended and served as an excellent introduction to the way FDC work and the priorities that the CSP has identified. Although the papers are not published on the FDC website there are copies of the priorities etc. here (although this is out of date).
The meeting looked at the first quarter figures in the priority areas which are
• Anti-social behaviour
• Alcohol related crime
• Acquisitive crime
• Children and young people
All indicators were broadly positive and there is a detailed work plan in place to ensure that targets are met. I will endeavour to find out what information can be shared and whether the website can be updated to include papers.
The meetings are quarterly and each looks in depth at one of the priorities, this time it was the turn of the children and young people priority. A strategic assessment was produced that is designed to provide the CSP with an understanding of key community safety issues affecting the district. This can be found on the Cambridgeshire insight website here. This gives a great deal of information about what the CSP does and the overall trend in performance and can be read in conjunction with the crime data available on the Cambridgeshire atlas site.
This is all useful information for groups who may be looking to develop projects and apply for funding as it helps to demonstrate need.
My initial thoughts on the work that is being undertaken was that it was focused on the schools and the services provided by statutory services. I would like to have seen more recognition of the important role that the VCS plays in this area as well as ways that the CSP could support VCS provision.

The meeting also looked at the idea of introducing a voluntary ban on the sale of super strength alcoholic products. This has been successfully rolled out in Ipswich and there is more information on the Suffolk Police website.
Fenland has some specific issues with alcohol having the highest alcohol specific mortality rate of all the rural districts in the county and the second highest rates of alcohol specific hospital admissions and alcohol specific violence in the county. Furthermore Fenland has higher rates of violence against the person compared to similar areas, and Wisbech has particular issues having only 24% of the district population, but 50% of the violence.
As such the partnership agreed to set up a group that would look at piloting a super strength campaign in Wisbech.

So all in all a good first meeting, but there was a lack of consistency about how the voluntary sector is, or could be, involved in the different priorities. Some organisations are engaged and there could be opportunities for more to be involved. My overriding thought is that there is no source of information about the sectors work that may be helping towards achieving the CSP priorities, and that without this there is no way that the sector could make a coordinated impact by developing new projects or partnerships. For me this has to be the first issue that we try to address with the CSP as without some understanding of what is already going on there is no way to look at what could be supported and nurtured, and what needs to be developed in the future.

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