Community Safety Law

The crime prevention and community safety legislation on this page provides the foundation to the development of the formal crime and disorder partnerships. This area provides direct links to current UK community safety and related legislation and to the technical aspects of Community Safety Assessments and Impact Assessments. During 2007 a series of 'national standards' are being developed which will enable CDRPs to have a core range of clearly described ways of working.

Crime and Disorder Act 1998

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 gave local authorities and police services duties to work together to develop crime and disorder audits crime and disorder audits and implement reduction strategies and to work in partnership with other agencies - Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) - to  tackle the identified problems. Over the years this has evolved through legislation and practice.

Police and Justice Act 2006

The Police and Justice Act 2006   has comprehensively revised the CDA 1998. The new Act places a duty on responsible authorities to share evidenced-based data to support CDRPs. This now also includes the Fire Service, Probation Service, Health Service, local Police Authority and a representative of Registered Social Landlords (Housing Associations).

The legislation also places a new duty on CDRPs to join together in a formal strategic group to undertake frequent strategic assessments of levels and patterns of crime and drug misuse in their area and to produce annual rolling three year community safety plans (details of which are contained in Statutory Instrument 1830  SI 2007/1830 and  SI 2007/1830 (Explanatory Memorandum) which came into force on 1 August 2007.

The provision of information to undertake the strategic assessments are covered in Statutory Instrument 1831 SI 2007/1831 - Print version and SI 2007/1831 - Explanatory Memorandum.

Statutory Public Accountability for CSPs

The provisions contained within Sections 19-21 of the Police and JUstice Act 2006 extended the remit of local authorities to scrutinise the functioning of the local CSPs in England Wales.It puts in place arrangements to ensure that every local authority has in place a committee with power to review and scrutinise, and make reports or recommendations, about the functioning of the CSPs responsible authorities (local authorities, fire and rescue authorities, police authorities, the police, primary care trusts in England and local health boards in Wales).

Policing & Social Responsibility Act 2011

Summary of the Act

The Policing & Social Responsibility Act 2011 covers five distinct policy areas: police accountability and governance; alcohol licensing; the regulation of protests around Parliament Square; misuse of drugs; and the issue of arrest warrants in respect of private prosecutions for universal jurisdiction offences.

Key areas

The Act:

  • Replaces police authorities with directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners, with the aim of improving police accountability (outside London first elections to be held November 2012).
  • Makes specific provisions in London for the delegation of Police Authority responsibilities to the elected Mayor of London
  • Amends and supplements the Licensing Act 2003 with the intention of ‘rebalancing’ it in favour of local authorities, the police and local communities
  • Sets out a new framework for regulating protests around Parliament Square. Relevant sections of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 would be repealed and the police would be given new powers to prevent encampments and the use of amplified noise equipment
  • Enables the Home Secretary to temporarily ban drugs for up to a year, and removes the statutory requirement for the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to include members with experience in specified activities
  • Introduces a new requirement for private prosecutors to obtain the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions prior to the issue of an arrest warrant for ‘universal jurisdiction’ offences such as war crimes or torture. The Government's aim in introducing this change is to prevent the courts being used for political purposes.

Statutory Functions and Duties:

1.  Community Safety Governance and Local Delivery of Community Safety Strategic Assessments

The strategic governance and local delivery of crime and disorder reduction work belongs with area based Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) - see the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This means that the local strategic management, commissioning of the local community safety strategic assessments, the development of local delivery plans for crime and disorder reduction and the overseeing of performance against crime reduction targets and the delivery of services is controlled by the CSP.

There is a significant regional input into the governance of CSPs; both in the case of county CSPs, Fire Authorities and Police Services at county and district levels and in unitary authorities. PCCs (and in London the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime [MOPAC]) do not have membership of CSPs but have the following community safety related powers and duties:

  1. Reciprocal duty for PCCs and CSP responsible authorities to co-operate with each other for the purposes of reducing crime and disorder
  2. Power to bring a representative of any or all CSPs in the PCC's area together to discuss priority issues
  3. Power to require reports from CSPs about issues of concern
  4. Power to approve mergers of CSPs (on application of the CSPs concerned)
  5. Power to commission community safety work from a range of local partners including (such commissioning of crime and disorder reduction work is not limited to CSPs but can include community, voluntary sector or commercial providers)

2.  Community Safety Standards

A set of minimum standards for CSPs was established  and included in the Police and Justice Act 2006 (PJA) and related documents. Basic essential guidance for the development of Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) is contained in the Home Office guidance Delivering Safer Communities: a guide to effective partnerships . The guidance introduced the concept of Hallmarks of Effective Partnership and is divided up into four key aspects of partnership business: The guidance was developed to support the 'Crime and Disorder (formulation and implementation of Strategy) Regulations' (Statutory Instrument 2007 No.1830) and 'Crime and Disorder (Prescribed Information) Regulations' (Statutory Instrument 2007 1831).

3.  Strategic Practice

The specific responsibilities for  developing a Strategic Assessment and its implementation are  described in SI 2007/1830. The provision of information to undertake the strategic assessments are covered in SI 2007/1831

There are a number of problems in implementing statutory Strategic Assessment - in terms of aggregating the information for the purpose of providing multi agency strategic priorities. A number of areas - to avoid the production of dual assessments where agreement cannot be reached as to what is an acceptable priority CDRP's are adopting the more narrowly focused (but systematic) 'police control strategy' Strategic Assessments.

A useful tool to link the two - and get the best from both - is the Metropolitan Police developed Strategic Prioritisation Matrix. What this seeks to do is to provide a logical process for scanning, analysing and prioritising reported crime and selected crime and disorder related issues. It does not provide the whole picture; as it needs to be integrated with non-police information, community identified priorities and community consultation etc. But it is a help.

4.  Duty for Public Authorities to Reduce Crime

 

Section 17 is a clause within the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 which seeks to ensure that public authorities ensure that they undertake their work in ways which support crime and disorder prevention and combating substance misuse in their area.

 "Without prejudice to any other obligation imposed upon it, it shall be the duty of each authority … to exercise its various functions with due regard to the likely effect of the exercise of those functions on, and the need to do all that it reasonably can to prevent, crime and disorder in its area (including anti-social and other behaviour adversely affecting the local environment) and the misuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances in its area

The section places this duty on Local Authorities; Police Authorities (and the Mayor of London); Fire Authorities; National Parks Authorities and the Broads Authority.

5.  Section 17 Duties

Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (revised) places an obligation on local and other names authorities to consider the crime, disorder, environmental issues affecting the local area and substance misuse of all their activities and to do all they reasonably can to prevent them.

The purpose of the Section is to focus attention on the broader range of issues that these key agencies can contribute to which will enable safere communities. So that for instance, Police Authorities need to consider the inclusion of substance misuse prevention and reduction in their development of their duties or Fire Authorities need to include the prevention of criminal damage in their business plans.  

This reflects the reality that there are crime and/or disorder implications in decisions made across the full range of statutory services, and to correct the current situation under which these implications are often not recognised at the time decisions are taken, with expensive consequences.

An example of the application of Section 17 reviewing local authority services to work with the victims of crime.

 

Education
Housing
Social Services
Priority Area
Bullied pupils
Victims of ASB
Youth Offenders at  18 years
Policy/ Strategy/
Departmental Anti Bullying policy
Working with ASB Victims
YOT/NOMS protocol
Level of Service
Effective Pastoral Care Service
Effective reporting and Action
Seamless Transition
Practice
Project, Training, Targets and Monitoring
Service Standards, reporting structure and action
Targeted service with integrated delivery

Section 17 Review and Compliance Audit

A proforma to enable authorities with a duty to apply Section 17 to review compliance and plan for improved compliance