Report to: Safer Suffolk Partnership Executive
Meeting Date: 20th August 2009
Lead: Alan Keely - SCC Community Safety Manager
Sponsor: Julia Stephens-Row
Contact Point: Alan.email@example.com
SCRUTINY OF COMMUNITY SAFETY PARTNERSHIPS
WHAT IS THE PARTNERSHIP BOARD BEING ASKED TO DECIDE?
Provisions contained in sections 19 and 20 of the Police and Justice Act 2006
extend the remit of local authorities to scrutinise the functioning of the local Crime
and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRP) in England and Community Safety
Partnership (CSP) in Wales. In addition, Councillor Call for Action (CCfA) will
commence for crime and disorder matters, alongside other local government
matters. Councillor Call for Action (CCfA), will provide councillors with a clear
and formal means of raising issues of concern to the local community with the
relevant overview and scrutiny committee in their local authority area. These
provisions came into force in England on 30 April 2009 and will come into effect
in Wales on 1 October 2009.
The SSPB are requested to recognise the requirements for scrutinising
Community Safety Partnerships.
All authorities – including fourth option authorities – will need to create or
designate a crime and disorder committee to deal with crime and disorder
scrutiny if this has not already happened.
WHAT ARE THE KEY ISSUES TO CONSIDER?
1) Resource Implications (Pooled/aligned funding, Human Resources etc)
It is anticipated that this work will be undertaken by existing structures. Each local
authority is obliged to undertake scrutiny of crime and disorder matters. The
extent to which this has happened varies across the county, so there could be an
increase in scrutiny activity overall. Scrutiny consumes resources, both in terms
of those who scrutinise and also for those people, organisations or partnerships
who are subject to scrutiny.
2) Performance & Risk Implications
Good overview and scrutiny processes can have a significant impact on the
effectiveness of Community Safety Partnerships and the way in which they work.
Overview and scrutiny can improve public accountability and should lead to
improved performance. There is a risk that different scrutiny bodies will each
require partners to respond.
3) Partnership Implications (SSP, LSP’s, Children’s Trust, CSP’s etc)
Short term implications arise from scrutiny becoming more active and engaging
partnerships more in order to comply with the legislation. In the longer term
scrutiny may impact on the way individual partners, or partnerships themselves
are implemented or managed. This is all about the effectiveness of the
Community Safety Partnership and there are potential implications resulting from
scrutiny which may result in changes being proposed.
WHAT ARE THE TIMESCALES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS DECISION?
The provisions of the legislation came into force in England on 30 April 2009.
Scrutiny arrangements are likely to be developed over the next 6 to 12 months.
Main body of report
Section 19 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 requires every Local Authority to
have a Crime and Disorder Committee with the power to review or scrutinise
decisions made or actions taken in connection with the discharge by the
responsible authorities of their Crime and Disorder functions. The Crime and
Disorder Regulations 2009 compliment the provisions under Section 19.
The terms of reference of the committee are to scrutinise the work of the
Community Safety Partnerships CSP’s and the partners who comprise it, insofar
as their activities relate to the partnership itself.
It will be up to each authority – along with its partners – to decide on the best way
to put these procedures in place for these new scrutiny powers.
The Act and regulations do not require councils to alter existing committee
structures. However there should be a formal place where community safety
matters can be discussed.
This could be a dedicated overview and scrutiny committee or the main overview
and scrutiny committee (in those authorities that only have two committees).
The guidance states that the committee should act as a critical friend and should
do the following:
Consider Calls for Action that arise through the Councillor Call for Action
Consider actions taken by the responsible authorities on the CSP.
Make reports and recommendations to the local authority with regard to
The committee should include in its work programme a list of issues which it
needs to cover during the year. This should be agreed in consultation with the
relevant partners on the community safety partnership and reflect local need.
The legislation gives powers to scrutinise the Community Safety Partnership
rather than the individual partners. This makes sure that the focus is on policy
and not the actions of the individual partners. This will ensure that the CSP is
accountable and its performance is improved by the scrutiny process in a
constructive way. It also means that there is a wider scope for the committee or
group of members to cut across organisational boundaries over the course of
Frequency and Process
The minimum requirement is to hold one meeting a year. It may be that some
Authorities decide to undertake “set piece” community safety scrutiny only once a
year. This could be in the form of an event looking at Crime and Disorder matters
where crime and disorder matters for the next municipal year are considered.
However the guidance recommends that the scrutiny function should consider
community safety more consistently throughout the year.
As part of the accountability role of the committee, it may be useful to request the
attendance of senior members of the partnership at key meetings through the
year. This might include the portfolio holder for community safety, senior
members of partner organisations or the local police commander.
The guidance also recommends that in two tier areas it would be worth
considering both tiers working together as far as possible to avoid duplication.
Districts and counties should consider developing a joint approach for looking at
community safety issues that cut across organisational boundaries.
In the case of the Western Suffolk merged CSP Section 21 of the Police and
Justice Act amends section 5 of the Crime and Disorder Act to enable the
Secretary of State to make an order requiring councils to appoint a joint
committee to carry out Crime and Disorder Scrutiny functions. This will be used
where CDRP mergers have taken place avoiding the need to answer to two
committees. Alternatively the individual district and borough committees may find
it beneficial to work together informally.
In summary – A countywide committee specifically for community safety might be
made up of the chairs of the district council Crime and Disorder committees as
well as some county councillors. It should also be pointed out that individual
councils will still need their own committees despite the existence of joint
structures. The guidance says that this is as much for the sake of pragmatism as
to meet the requirements of the Act. There will always be local community safety
issues best dealt with by individual authorities.
The regulations allow Crime and Disorder Committees to co-opt additional
members to serve on the committee. These co-optees can be specialists in
particular areas and the guidance states that these people could bring great
value and expertise to the committee’s work
Members can be co-opted provided they are an employee, officer or member of a
responsible authority or of a co-operating person or body and are not a member
of the executive of the local authority.
Police Authorities occupy a unique position and have a clear statutory role to hold
to account the police. It is vital that local authority community safety scrutiny
compliments this role. Local authorities should in all instances presume that the
police authority should play an active part at committee when community safety
matters are being discussed and particularly when the police are to be present.
There are three options for Police Authority engagement
Option 1 – one member of the committee should be a member of the Police
Option 2 – where it is not possible to have a Police Authority member on the
committee. Police Authority members will receive a standing invitation to attend
the committee as an expert advisor. In some situations this invitation can be
extended to a PA officer
Option 3 – a Police Authority member can be co-opted onto the committee when
policing matters are being considered.
Responding to requests
As part of the scrutiny process the committee will sometimes request information
from the CSP. The CSP will be under a duty to provide this information. There is
no timescale stipulated but it should be provided as soon as reasonably possible.
Proposals for District Areas
We will be using existing O&S committee and once a year we will be producing
an annual report on the work of the partnership to include project breakdown,
case studies, evaluation and overview of the strategic assessment process and
The annual report will be sent to the Crime Reduction Working Group with a
recommendation that the report is sent to O&S committee.
It is hoped to send the annual report in the second quarter of the following year
and this process will be reviewed in a years time to determine if changes need to
This year we will be sending the report to Crime Reduction Working Group in July
and O&S in Sept.
We are aware that we are a merged partnership and the possibility of a merged
annual review may be considered.
Also Community Call for Action will also run alongside this as and when issues
The recommendation from Ipswich is that amendments be made to the Terms of
Reference in the Constitution of the Policy & Development Scrutiny Sub
Committee to discharge the functions of a Crime and Disorder Overview and
Scrutiny Committee. In addition to this there is a proposal for members to
participate in a training session once the constitution has been amended.
Suffolk County Council
The Council’s Public Protection Scrutiny Committee currently includes
‘community safety’ as a generic area of scrutiny responsibility. In September
Council will be asked to approve an amendment to the Council’s Constitution to
change the remit of the Public Protection Scrutiny Committee in line with the role
proposed in the guidance and referred to above.
There are a number of alternative approaches that could be taken with regard to
scrutiny of Crime and Disorder matters e.g:
Establish a specific county-wide Crime and Disorder Scrutiny
A collaborative arrangement which makes use of local scrutiny at
district/borough level, with county-wide scrutiny to provide overview
and look at issues that arise in more than one local area.
There are constitutional and practical issues associated with co-option generally,
and the Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny Management Board is keen to reduce
the burden on people who may take on the role of strengthening the ‘critical
friend’ role of scrutiny. The Board is also concerned that as the duty currently
falls to all local authorities, this could lead to duplication and inefficiency. A
member of the Public Protection Scrutiny Committee will be nominated to offer to
work with officers across Suffolk to develop an approach that will provide
effective scrutiny and prevent duplication.
There is a Suffolk Scrutiny Officer Network that would be able to explore the
issues around scrutiny of crime and disorder matters with other stakeholder
representatives. A potential outcome of these discussions could be a Suffolk
Crime and Disorder Scrutiny protocol.