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The way ahead for safer communities: Government response to Casey review
Increasing the visibility of community sentences so that offenders 'pay back' to the community, providing regular local crime data and online maps, and investing in a new team of community champions are part of new plans to better engage communities in the fight against crime announced today by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Justice Secretary Jack Straw.
The measures form part of the Government's response to a new report published today by Louise Casey 'Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime' and also include new guaranteed minimum standards for neighbourhood policing and new dedicated funding to spend on community safety in local areas.
The report acknowledges the vital role the public play in working with neighbourhood police teams and local authorities to help make communities feel safe and secure, help set local policing priorities and build public confidence in crime fighting agencies. It sets out proposals to put the interests of the public and the law-abiding majority first.
After discussing the review with members of the public who contributed to it, the Prime Minister said:
"We commissioned this frank report because we know how important it is to understand how the public feel about crime and justice. Through this report, people have told us what they want to be done, and we are going to act. The report is clear that overall crime has fallen and that the reforms of the last ten years have had a major impact, for example through record numbers of police officers and a new approach to anti-social behaviour. But it is also clear that we need to go further, that too many people don't believe the system is on their side.
"Building on this report the Home Secretary and I have asked Louise to work with us on a plan to transform the role of local communities in tackling crime but also to transform the way policing and justice relate to the public."
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"I welcome Louise Casey's review and would like to thank the thousands of members of the public, police and other crime fighting professionals who have contributed to the review's findings.
"Making sure that people feel safe and secure in their communities is my top priority. And central to that is building people's confidence that crime is being tackled in their areas and justice is being done - and being seen to be done.
"The public are the best weapon in the fight against crime - and Louise's report will help us to put the 'neighbourhood' into Neighbourhood Policing. With people having a strong voice in local policing priorities - as well as the information and the tools they need to understand what's going on in their area - we'll make Neighbourhood Policing work for every community across the country.
"Louise's report shows how neighbourhood policing has a vital role to play in delivering safer communities, and I welcome many of the proposals.
"We plan to publish monthly local crime data and we will take forward the report's recommendations on local crime mapping and making sure every household receives 'Crime Watch' style information about the local fight against crime.
"I also welcome the proposals for 'Community Crime Fighters' and community kitties to fund local groups to help tackle community safety problems. As we develop the Policing Pledge we are looking at delivering guaranteed minimum standards for all Neighbourhood Policing Teams, and Louise's report has given us a clear sense of what the public expect from this.
"Louise's report will feed into the Policing Green Paper, to be published shortly, which will take forward proposals to firmly put the citizen's needs at the heart of modern policing - with neighbourhood police teams engaged with local concerns backed up by new directly elected representatives. We have appointed Louise to the role of Neighbourhood Crime and Justice Adviser to see what more we can do to build community confidence in tackling crime and delivering justice."
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:
"I greatly welcome the recommendations from Louise Casey. Crime has fallen dramatically under this Government but we can and must do more to increase the public's confidence in justice. This report includes some excellent proposals for further consideration.
"I am particularly keen to take forward the proposals from the Casey review on the visibility of community sentences and have asked for detailed proposals as to whether we could move towards greater use of uniforms for offenders paying back their debt to society through unpaid work schemes. In many cases a tough community sentence can be more effective than a short prison sentence - more effective in terms of punishing and reforming offenders, turning them away from crime and therefore giving greater protection to the public. It is vital that the public see these sentences working in their communities.
"Louise Casey is also absolutely right that we need to take euphemisms out of the criminal justice system. Unpaid work should be called what it is - Community Payback."
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said:
"I welcome Louise Casey's excellent report. It is right that we engage local people in the fight against crime and anti-social behaviour. Local people want to see justice done; they want to know what happens when someone is convicted; and they want to see punishment where it is due. It is right that the system works for the victim and the witness, and not for the criminal. The public is looking to the Government for a fair system and a common sense approach, and this report points the way."
Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls said:
"I welcome Louise Casey's detailed look at what communities can do to help. Evidence in this review shows that the public support our tough approach in dealing with youth crime and anti-social behaviour and our Youth Taskforce action plan to get more places for young people to go things to do and after school and at weekends.
We will use tough enforcement to tackle unacceptable behaviour alongside non negotiable support and early intervention and prevention to tackle the underlying causes and stop problems arising in the first place. This summer we will publish the Youth Crime Action Plan which will go further to tackle youth crime and its causes. "
The Government's detailed response to the report will come in a number of areas over the coming weeks, including the Policing Green Paper, the Youth Crime Action Plan, and further announcements by the Ministry of Justice. Recommendations the Government will immediately take forward include:
* Community Payback: more visibility of unpaid work and greater public engagement - including through community panels - in the selection of unpaid work projects; and greater use of uniforms for offenders paying back their debt to society through unpaid work schemes.
* Community Champions: Teams of ordinary citizens in every area of the country will be equipped with the skills and know-how to play a stronger role in tackling crime. They will give tenants' organisations and community groups a stronger voice, serving to strengthen links between the general public and the police.
* Funding 'kitties' to neighbourhood and community groups: The review found that small interventions, if properly directed, can have a dramatic effect. So the Government will encourage local authorities to provide funding to help tackle community safety problems, such as better lighting and more activities for young people.
* Regular local crime information including online crime maps for every area of the country - building on work already underway with all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
* New minimum guaranteed standards for neighbourhood policing to be developed as part of the Policing Pledge.
* The appointment of Louise Casey to take up a new role as Neighbourhood Crime and Justice Adviser advising on building community confidence in neighbourhood policing, meeting local priorities on crime and policing and promoting citizen engagement in justice. She will be based in the Home Office but will advise the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary and other ministers as necessary, reflecting the cross-cutting nature of this work on this work.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The review, 'Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime', is published on the Cabinet Office website at http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.
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 or contact the Cabinet Office press office on 020 7276 1234.
3. Louise Casey will take part in a live webchat in Number 10 on the Criminal Justice System on 19 June at 2pm.