Cambridge Community Safety Partnership (CSP) July 2018

ccsp-logoSome thoughts on the meeting held on 17th July 2018. Firstly, you can find out more about the work of the CSP on the City Councils website, and you can download the papers here. These meetings are generally open to the public, but there are never crowds so you can always find a place!

This meeting was a little different as we had a report on a Domestic Homicide Review. You can find out more about what a DHR is here, but in essence it is

“A Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) is a locally conducted multi-agency review of the circumstances in which the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by:

  • a person to whom he or she was related, or with whom he or she was or had been in an intimate personal relationship; or,
  • a member of the same household as himself or herself.

DHRs were introduced by section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (DVCA 2004) and came into force on 13 April 2011.”

The report from this will be made public once the process has been completed, but safe to say if we never have to do another of these that would be fantastic. There is lots of help for those who are victims of domestic abuse, and for those who have concerns. A good place to start when looking for help is the Domestic Violence Helpline.

The rest of the meeting followed its usual pattern of extremely thorough reports and opportunities to look at how partners could be involved. Some of the highlights.

  • The CSP will be bidding with others in the county into a pot of money that has been recovered from criminals. It would be good to look at how voluntary groups may be able to access this in the future and we will be meeting to investigate this.
  • There is a growing aim of joined up working to look at issues within the City Centre. To begin with the area needs to be defined as do the priorities. The key learning was that communication with other groups needs to be improved and that communication with the public would also help to reduce crime and fear of crime.
  • The annual report and the updated terms of reference for the CSP were accepted. The annual report will be published on the City website, but the draft can be seen as part of these papers.
  • The work to align the CSP in the City with the one in South Cambs and with the two Living Well area Partnerships is ongoing. The next CSP meeting will be joint with the South Cambs one. Whilst CCVS attends all of these so reducing meetings will be of benefit to our sanity, I do wonder if this is feasible. There are undoubtedly some areas of overlap that could be addressed jointly but there are significant local issues that it would be wrong to lose sight of.

We are happy to answer any further questions that may arise. We are also always eager to hear from organisations who have an interest in issues around community safety so that we can take concerns etc. to this meeting.

What’s wrong with a good old fashioned clip round the ear?

Well everything really – but back in the good old days when there was a Dixon of Dock Green on every street corner (check out Wikipedia if you are too young to get the reference), and everyone knew their local bobby this is how minor nuisance and what would now be called anti social behaviour (ASB) was dealt with – apparently.

This remedy is getting a 21st century update as part of changes to the law brought about by the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 which introduces two new ideas (amongst other things) the Community Trigger and Community Remedies.

This was one of the items discussed at the Cambridge Community Safety Partnership (CSP) the papers of which can be found here. More information can be found about these new powers in this presentation.

So there are three things here, first there is a simplification of the numerous notices, orders and ASBOs that currently exist. This will undoubtedly make things easier for the Police and other agencies but will have little effect on the public. The next issue is the Community Trigger, this will have an effect on everyone and will possibly be the best thing to come out of this government for some residents groups and community associations who spend their time dealing with ASB issues and finally there is the idea of community remedies, this will allow the Police (and in some instances others) to meet out punishments without going through a court procedure.  This could be seen as a triumph of common sense over bureaucracy or as the long slippery slope to the Judge Dredd ‘I am the Law’ scenario (again check out Wikipedia if this reference means nothing to you).

Whatever you views it is probably worth making them known to the Police and Crime Commissioner as he will be making the final decisions on how this will work. There is a survey on the PCC website here.

The meeting also heard a report on the County wide Domestic Violence needs assessment and the executive summary is included in the papers and is available here, with the full report available here. This area of work always strikes me as being well co-ordinated and being a partnership that brings out the best of both statutory and voluntary sectors. Whilst there are undoubtedly areas that could be improved my feeling is that we are getting many things right, and that this issue remains a focus of not just justice partnerships but also health and wellbeing partnerships. If this is an issue that affects you there is more information on how to get help on the County Council website.

Mental health is more than just a health issue

anxiety

As Mental Health Awareness Week draws to a close it seems fitting to highlight how this topic is rising up the agenda of a number of the community safety and crime partnerships CCVS attend.

Having recently attended the Community Safety Partnerships for both Cambridge and Fenland, and the Police and Crime Partnership meeting I am struck by the increasing issues raised around mental health and how it affects victims and perpetrators of crime. More and more the Police and other partners have recognised that the mental health of those that they are coming into contact with is a contributory factor to the committing of crimes and something that affects many victims.

There is a real desire to examine this issue and work out what can be done to prevent crime and to support victims and perpetrators to address any mental health issues. The new Cambridge City Community Safety Plan has a strategic objective to

“To understand the impact of mental health, alcohol and drug misuse on violent crime and antisocial behaviour”

The growing recognition that mental health is an issue and that reducing offending means looking at, and addressing, the underlying issues that people have has been recognised and the partnership recognises that it needs to find out more about this to develop effective strategies can only be welcomed.

In Fenland whilst there is no mention of mental health directly there is a strong focus on Anti-Social Behaviour and problems caused by alcohol. It is recognised that mental health problems have an impact on both these areas and that they need to be addressed.

Significantly the Police and Crime Commissioner has identified Mental Health as a priority area and will be bringing his influence to bear to look at how the system of dealing with mental health across the county can be improved with a view to reducing offending. The county has effective partnership structures in place around domestic violence that involve many agencies working together, this is overseen by a Domestic Violence Board who can ensure parity of service across the county and ensure that organisations are working together. The need for a similar board for mental health, along with the funding and partnerships to make a real difference seems to be paramount. So over to Sir Graham to make it happen!

As far as the voluntary sector goes there are numerous organisations working with and supporting those with mental health issues, reductions in funding to the NHS and increasing thresholds to get people into the clinical mental health system are putting pressure on many services. It is vitally important that everyone gets the support, treatment and information they need in an appropriate way. It is only a truly person centred and joined up system that will bring about real change for the individuals affected directly and indirectly by mental health issues; by doing this we will be able to reduce offending and create safer communities.

If you work in the mental health field please let us know your thoughts, we are looking at what we as a sector need to do in order to start influencing the agenda and providing services that work towards a common goal.

Why can’t the charitable sector realise ‘we are in it together’

I was going to title this entry ‘Why the voluntary sector sucks at thinking strategically’ but this was possibly a bit harsh. But I do think that there is a real problem, not with organisations thinking strategically, but with how organisations collectively look at the wider picture and what can be achieved by the sector by working together.

These thoughts were prompted by attending the South Cambridgeshire Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP). The papers for which are available here.

For years now collaboration, consortia, partnership working and any number of other variations of working together have been tried and tested by the sector with varying degrees of success. I realise we are all different, that we have different missions, visions and objectives BUT we must overcome this and find ways to think more strategically as a sector. We must also find ways in which we can collaborate together to look at some of the wider issues that statutory organisations are looking to address.

This meeting of the South Cambs CDRP looked at what had been achieved in the past year, and more importantly at what the priorities might be for the future. The bottom line is that this partnership is very good at the operational level work of bringing officers together to reduce crime and disorder. This is highlighted by South Cambs having the lowest number of crimes per 1000 residents of all the authorities it is compared against. This is down to great partnership working and great policing. So the priorities for the next year are – more of the same please. The partnership working is embedded and there will continue to be regular monitoring and meetings, this will be assisted by the use of some new IT systems. For the future there needs to be some additional work if the crime rate is going to be driven down, it will need a new approach that will have to concentrate on prevention as well as detection and punishment.

And it is here that the voluntary sector could be a key player, if we think strategically and work together. From projects that keep young people from offending or committing Anti-Social Behaviour, to projects to get villages to ‘look out for’ each other; from projects to make homes more secure, to projects that raise awareness of Domestic Violence and provide supportive ways to report this; the voluntary sector can deliver.

By looking at what we are doing, and where the gaps may be, by thinking creatively about the outcomes of our work and fitting these with priorities we could come up with a package of services that would make a real impact in preventing crime. This would give us the opportunity to look at funding for these services, especially where we could demonstrate the savings that could be made to the public purse by funding activities before problems occur. If we were really clever we could be linking different activities across not just crime and disorder but also health and wellbeing. So a project that helps people recognise drinking problems and change their behaviour not only reduces ASB and violent crime but also saves the health authorities money. A project that reduces distraction burglaries on elderly people by raising awareness and adding some simple security measures reduces crime, and also has potential savings as those affected by these burglaries often suffer from health issues brought on by stress and anxiety.

These are only simple examples that occur to me, I know that there are probably many more that I have not thought of. However I believe that it is not enough that we approach funders and statutory bodies individually with our projects, but that we work together to produce a collective set of proposals that together meet the priorities that are being set out by partnerships such as the CDRP. We should then work to get changes made to how things are funded and get politicians to justify why this type of project is not better at reducing spending than simply cutting services. There is no easy answer, and there will not be any simple outcomes that suddenly mean that the sector will find loads of new money, but we have a history of overcoming difficulties and changing mind-sets. If we work together we can change the way that funding is allocated, and if our statutory partners are going to continue to provide services in times of austerity they are going to have to realise that prevention is not only cheaper but better for communities and those living in them. So how do we do this given our already busy schedules and our conflicting visions? Well I will wait for you to tell me!

Happy Birthday Sir Graham

Police and Crime Partnership Working Group Nov 2013

One year ago we all went to the polls to vote Sir Graham Bright in as our Police and Crime Commissioner, well a few people did. These partnership meetings are part of his role and an opportunity for his staff to get together with representatives from statutory bodies, us and Victim Support.

This meeting included an update on the first year of the Sir Graham’s reign. You can find out more from the PCC website here. A lot has been written in the national press about PCCs and their impact, some good but most not so good. Some examples from the Guardian, the BBC, and one from the BBC where a standing PCC criticises the role.

So what is the verdict from where we sit? Well as far as the impact on policing goes, I can not comment on the difference Sir Graham has made; that said crime is down (as it is nationally) but could this be due to how things are counted if you are to believe the Daily Mirror. We are more involved in the work of the office of the PCC than we were with the old police authority, but we do not have that direct link that we had through local councillors. The PCC does not seem to be interacting with the voluntary sector through the existing channels, he has appointed a community worker and has supported neighbourhood watch, but has not engaged with us apart from a brief meeting in his early days. My impression is that he wants to do things his way regardless of what existing mechanisms are in place; that said he may be doing sterling work with other parts of the sector that I am not aware of.

The meeting also gave updates on the transforming rehabilitation programme which is seeing the privatisation of probation services. More information can be found on the Clinks website and a good piece about how the VCS could be involved if everything works out and ensures the best for the service users.

Finally we also heard about the plans to support victims of crime. The budget for this work is due to pass to the PCC in the next year or so. There will be a commissioning of services and we will keep you up to date with further news as we get it.

The papers for this meeting are not public.