Frequently Asked Questions (web page)

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National Community Safety Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

The National Community Safety Plan (NCSP) sets out the Government’s community
safety priorities for 2006-2009. It outlines a new approach to community safety
and aims to manage a coherent community safety programme across Government,
providing people working in the field with a clear view of overall priorities.
The following frequently asked questions supplement the main document.


Where did the idea for a National Community Safety Plan come from?

The 2004 White Paper ‘Building Communities, Beating Crime: A better police service for the 21st century” contained a commitment to produce a community safety strategy in 2005.

We recognise that community safety cannot be successfully delivered by the police alone – broadly-based partnerships are vital. Working together is the only way to achieve our goals. That is why we have decided to move beyond an annual National Policing Plan to a National Community Safety Plan.

It is sometimes difficult for local delivery partners to see evidence of cross-departmental planning when the Government launches new initiatives with a community safety aspect. This can leave those at local level – who are essential to successful delivery – uncertain about overall Government community safety priorities. The Plan addresses this issue.

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How does the NCSP define ‘community safety’?

Community safety has always been a difficult concept to define rigidly. Usually, the priorities of local communities drive the scope of community safety activities at a local level. Our definition of community safety must therefore reflect the breadth of understanding in the wider community. Community safety means more than the more commonly used ‘crime reduction; or ‘crime prevention’. In using ‘community safety’, we recognise that we should focus attention not only on efforts to reduce or prevent crime and disorder, but also on introducing social and economic change as a way of preventing crime and disorder from taking place. ‘Community safety’ activities will aim to reduce offending behaviour and also the harms experienced by individuals and communities because of crime and disorder and will seek to improve their quality of life through efforts to change the wider physical and social environment.

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What are the aims of the NCSP?

The Plan has 3 aims. We want it to:

  1. give a clear view of central Government community safety priorities;

  2. act as tool for driving delivery of a shared community safety agenda, and as a starting point from which to develop new ways of working across central government; and

  3. underline central government’s expectations of key delivery agencies, including:

    • the Police

    • local authorities

    • local partnerships (Local Strategic Partnerships, Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs)and Drug Action Teams (DATs))

    • Local Criminal Justice Boards

    • Primary Care Trusts

    • Children’s trusts

    • Fire & rescue services

    • JobCentre Plus

It will add value by providing clarity when considering community safety in the planning of departmental PSA objectives and targets, and by improving the relationship between programmes for better delivery on the ground.

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What are the new ways of working referred to? Who do they affect?

Although the Plan introduces some new ways of working, it does not put new obligations on central and local partners. Rather, it seeks to make better use of what we already have in place, at central and local level.

The Plan places renewed emphasis upon collective decision-making in central government in respect of community safety. However, the new ways of working do not only affect central and local partners. It also emphasises the important role that active communities have to play in the identification of community safety issues.

The Plan includes some overarching principles to be observed when new policies are being considered or new initiatives developed that will impose expectations on local partners. These principles are to:

  • consider collectively under the umbrella of the Plan, whether we need to develop new policies with a community safety aspect or amend existing ones;

  • use the opportunity offered by SR2007 to consider the challenges faced by central Government in delivering further improvements to community safety;

  • consider how best to reflect this in departmental Public Service Agreements; and

  • prioritise community safety policies clearly, taking account of the view of our partners, and reflect this in our expectations of what local partners can deliver.

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How does the NCSP encourage and support community engagement?

The Plan puts communities at the heart of community safety by underlining the drive to get them to identify the community safety priorities for their neighbourhoods and then to work with key agencies to see them tackled effectively. The main vehicle for doing this is through effective community engagement supported by local partnership activity – and in community safety terms, the principal partnerships are Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Local Strategic Partnerships, particularly in Local Area Agreement areas. Local Area Agreements are an important means of engaging with local communities, particularly on community safety issues.

We can survey the crime reduction strategies drawn up by these partnerships to give us a good idea of the community safety priorities that are seen as important locally. We would naturally expect these to cover a broad spectrum, but experience tells us that common themes will emerge. We can use direct feedback from communities – gathered by various means such as field research, surveys, website discussion fora and direct participation in relevant local events – as a means of checking that the emerging picture is valid. That snapshot of local priorities can be fed into the formulation of new national level policies, initiatives and priorities.

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How will the NCSP be managed?

We will develop and mutually agree light touch governance and programme management for the Plan. This will work within existing arrangements for managing delivery of central Government departments’ individual Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets.

The NCSP does not affect local performance management frameworks such as those for the police (the Police Performance Assessment Framework), CDRPs or DATs. Neither does it directly affect Local Area Agreements in England. Local Area Agreements are an important means of delivering community safety at local level.

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What are the NCSP’s key messages?

  • The NCSP signals the beginning of a much closer collaboration between central and local government and our other partners at local level in the setting of priorities and the development of new policies and initiatives.

  • Community safety cannot be delivered by the police and other agencies working in isolation. Effective partnership working at national and local level is the only way to achieve community safety goals.

  • Central government will now be committed to delivering similar outcomes on community safety in the exercise of its functions as local partners do by Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998

  • Strong and active communities are at the heart of the plan, recognising the vital contribution that voluntary and community groups make to community safety

  • Active citizens are needed to help identify community safety priorities in their neighbourhoods and to work with agencies to make sure they are tackled

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Which Government departments are involved in the NCSP?

  • Department for Education and Skills

  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

  • Department for Constitutional Affairs

  • Department for Culture Media and Sport

  • Department of Health

  • Department of Trade and Industry

  • Department for Transport

  • Department for Work and Pensions

  • HM Treasury

  • Home Office

  • Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

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What about the devolved administrations?

Some of the measures described in the Plan (those concerned with policing) apply to both England and Wales. Others apply only to England, since wider community safety responsibilities have been devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government.

The Plan does not extend to Scotland since the Scottish Executive has responsibility for policing and community safety policy. It does not apply to Northern Ireland where the Criminal Justice Directorate of the Northern Ireland Office is responsible for the implementation of Northern Ireland’s Community Safety Strategy, launched in 2003.

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What happens after it is published?

We will be encouraging comments on the NCSP from a wide variety of sources through:

  • a series of regional NCSP road shows run in conjunction with Government Offices for the Regions – either as stand-alone events or as an integral element within other regional events;

  • a programme of other suitable events being run by the Home Office or NCSP contributing departments where we could take the opportunity to gain views on the plan; and

  • encouraging other departments to elicit views and opinions on the Plan from their key stakeholders.

  • a series of meetings to discuss the NCSP with key stakeholder agencies for a dedicated discussion about the Plan.

The Plan will be overseen by Ministers with community safety interests. They will meet once a quarter to review progress and the changes needed to support the Plan and the key priorities it sets out.

Last update: 10 November 2005

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