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Engaging communities in fighting crime

Engaging communities in fighting crime

CABINET OFFICE News Release (CAB/064/08) issued by The Government News Network on 18 June 2008

A major review examining how to better engage communities in the fight against crime and raise public confidence in the Criminal Justice System was published today.

'Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime' is the result of an in-depth, eight-month study headed by Louise Casey, former head of the Government's Respect Task Force.

The review contains more than 30 common-sense proposals to reduce crime, create safer communities and increase public confidence. The findings are strongly influenced by the views of nearly 15,000 ordinary members of the public and front-line staff, who have been canvassed by the review team since last October.

The starting point for the review is that without public action, support and confidence, the police and other criminal justice agencies cannot make communities safer. However, for the public to play their part, they need to see and experience services that tackle crime effectively, give them confidence and back them up.

Its conclusion is that radical change is needed to get the public more engaged in tackling crime and to halt the erosion of community spirit.

The report looks at five broad areas:

1. putting victims, witnesses and other law-abiding citizens first;

2. fighting crime and delivering justice for communities;

3. a new approach to crime statistics;

4. the citizen's role in tackling crime; and

5. freedoms and accountability.

Among the key recommendations arising from the review are:

* The appointment of a Public Commissioner on Crime to be the independent voice of victims of crime and to champion crime issues on behalf of the wider public

* Greater protection for vulnerable victims and witnesses including special measures for older or disabled people

* Neighbourhood Policing teams to have a common name, identity and level of service that the public can expect across all forces

* Adding powers to detain and to issue fixed penalty notices for disorder to the standard set of powers held by Police Community Support Officers

* Closer working between Neighbourhood Policing Teams, council services and other criminal justice services

* Future capital investment in youth facilities across the country to be dependent on a commitment to adequate provision on Friday evenings

* HM Courts Service to provide more information to the public on cases, sentencing decisions and what happens to offenders, on a regular and much more consistent basis

* The term "unpaid work" should be replaced with Community Payback and the work should be more visible and demanding and the public should receive more information about it

* The Government to consider contracting out from the Probation Service the running of all "community payback" programmes to new organisations

* Handing full responsibility for producing national crime statistics to the Statistical Authority or another independent organisation, complemented by a push for cross-party agreement to "depoliticise" crime statistics

* The provision of local monthly crime information to be extended to all parts of the country by 2009

* Handing responsibility for reducing police bureaucracy and paperwork to a senior police officer, working directly to the Police Minister Louise Casey said:

"The public are the most important weapon in tackling crime.

"The Government deserves great credit for the strides that it has made to reduce crime, put more police officers on the street, bring more offenders to justice and provide a better standard of care to victims.

"But however necessary and laudable these reforms have been, they have not gone far enough to win public confidence. Too often the public don't believe that their voice is heard, don't believe wrong-doers face adequate consequences for the crimes they commit, don't believe they are told enough about what happens in the system and they don't believe that crime has fallen when they are told so.

"This review takes a common sense view on what needs to change, how we can build trust and how those changes could happen."

Notes to Editors

1. The review, 'Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime', is published on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/crime

2. Louise Casey was commissioned by the Prime Minister to carry out the cross-departmental review last October. See Cabinet Office press notice CAB/080/07

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