Effectiveness of Partnership Working
Bedfordshire Police have opted to submit written evidence focussing on the effectiveness of
partnership working within criminal justice agencies. The evidence will firstly consider ways in which
the criminal justice agencies are working positively and effectively at a strategic level to deliver a
more effective, transparent and responsive criminal justice system for victims, witnesses and the
public. The evidence will progress to consider how criminal justice agencies fail to engage effectively
at a local and operational level to address local community concerns. The final section of the
evidence will explore what is being done to develop partnership working at this local level to
enhance justice in local communities.
This report has been compiled using information and opinion obtained from those involved in
strategic and operational criminal justice partnerships within Bedfordshire Police.
Are criminal justice agencies working in partnership effectively?
There are some very strong examples of effective and robust strategic partnership working within
criminal justice agencies within Bedfordshire. Driven by the Criminal Justice System Business Plan,
the Bedfordshire Criminal Justice Board (BCJC) Strategic Plan unites the criminal justice agencies to
achieve national strategic aims and local initiatives to develop an effective, transparent and
responsive service. BCJB is well represented by chief officers from Police, Crown Prosecution
Service, HM Courts Service, Probation, HM Prison Bedford, Victim Support, Legal Services
Commission and Youth Offending Services for Luton and Bedfordshire.
The Strategic Plan (SP) clearly sets out the ways in which the criminal justice agencies will work
together to bring offenders to justice and improve public confidence while meeting the needs of the
victim. The SP further states the targets agreed between BCJB and the Office for Criminal Justice
Reform (OCJR) and focuses on how the partnership will deliver performance within the specific
The BCJB SP is full of examples of efficient and effective joined-up processes that are aimed at
freeing up time to enable criminal justice agencies to tackle crime, reduce fear of crime and
therefore increase public confidence within the CJS. Some of the examples that evidence the success
of the strategic partnership include the reduction of outstanding ‘fail to appear warrants’ by half
since 2005, 92% of fines are collected (against a national target of 83%), 56% of offences brought to
justice were obtained through the court process in Bedfordshire (against a national average of 50%).
Furthermore the BCJB has successfully rolled out Criminal Justice: Simple, Speedy, Summary (CJSSS)
for both adults and youths, the Streamlined Process, Intermediaries, linked inter-agency IT systems
via the Exchange Links programme, Conditional Cautions and Witness Charter.
While the strategic partnership is working effectively with strong bonds and shared performance
targets, practitioners working within local communities have expressed the need for improved
partnership links at grass roots level.
If not, why not?
Since the implementation and embedding of Neighbourhood Policing, partnerships have been
forged and strengthened within Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) from strategic
level down to grass roots level. Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) have worked to develop and
populate methods of engagement which enables local communities to influence their local policing
priorities. Due to improved methods of communication along with calls for better transparency and
accountability within policing, individuals have a greater say in what their local policing service focus
on. Individuals are now able to log on to Bedfordshire Police website and can, with the click of a
button, view their community profile, crime maps, local priorities and locations to meet and engage
with their local SNT. Where they do not have ready access to the Internet SNT officers can provide
this information over the telephone or in person.
One of the issues raised with practitioners is the lack of criminal justice information available for
public consumption. We are aiming to improve transparency and inform the public of community
safety issues in order to inspire confidence and reduce the fear of crime. We regularly inform
communities of local crime problems, profiles and problem solving activity. However, within the
community profiles, we fail to provide meaningful and reassuring information regarding offenders
and offences brought to justice as a result of action taken to resolve crime problems. While
percentage evidence of those brought to justice and reductions in reoffending rates are significant,
those within local communities are typically more interested in what happened to those
apprehended for the spate of criminal damage offences on their estate last month. This is the type
of low level, local information that communities frequently request and this is the type of
information that inspires confidence in the CJS at a local level.
As well as the lack of detailed, local information regarding sanction outcomes, there is the lack of a
partnership mechanism that enables data collected by police and other CDRP partners to be fed into
other criminal justice agencies for consideration. Locally identified priorities and prolific problems
are identified within the community. These issues are organic and can change from month to month
and from location to location. The lack of a flexible partnership mechanism to feed this information
into prevents the CJS form understanding and reacting to such information.
For example, burglary is an identified concern in several communities. Police communicate to those
communities how we intend to prioritise and deal creatively and robustly with such offences in
order to resolve the crime problem. We also inform communities regarding burglary crime figures to
keep them informed and empowered to understand and demand more from their policing service.
However, this process is not mirrored within the CJS. Courts do not have robust processes whereby
they record and understand local community safety priorities and cannot therefore take into
account local concerns when deciding on the appropriate sanction. Furthermore, the courts and CPS
do not have a process whereby they can tell us how many burglars they’ve positively disposed of as
a result of offending within a specific area. SNTs are therefore unable to engage meaningfully with
other criminal justice agencies to enable police to communicate and provide feedback regarding
locally sensitive issues within communities.
The issue of accountability is relevant in understanding why there are significant differences in
standards of service regarding community engagement. As mentioned above, Neighbourhood
Policing has provided a framework which has co-ordinated the Police Service to develop robust
models of community engagement. In addition to Neighbourhood Policing, the Policing Pledge has
been adopted nationally and has communicated a set of targets that the Police Service will aspire to
achieve. The community is clearly informed under pledge 8 that Bedfordshire Police will provide
monthly updates on progress and on local crime and policing issues. This will include the provision of
crime maps, information on specific crimes and what happened to those brought to justice, details
of what action the police and other partners are taking to make neighbourhoods safer and
information on how we are performing.
This statement clarifies what the public can expect from their local policing service. However, this
pledge is only achievable with the co-operation and assistance from our partners within the criminal
justice agencies. The performance of the police is scrutinised by HMIC and the results are
communicated to the public. The domain of engagement and providing local information to
communities is therefore prioritised to ensure that the people of Bedfordshire have confidence in
their policing service. This process of scrutiny is not applied to the performance of our criminal
justice agency partners in this particular domain. A differing level of prioritisation is therefore
applied making it particularly challenging to hold our partners to account and to achieve this
Practitioners within Bedfordshire Police have also identified a theme of delivering justice within
communities as an area in need of improved partnership working. Again, there is much positive work
ongoing within CDRPs, filtering down to locally formed Problem Solving Groups, to tackle and reduce
crime and anti-social behaviour. However, when it comes to visibly delivering justice within
communities there is very little join-up. Practitioners have expressed that police bureaucracy and a
stifling performance culture has dramatically reduced their ability to apply common sense and
deliver justice within the community.
The issues presented above have been considered by BCJB and a number of positive measures are
currently being considered to encourage, facilitate and enhance partnership working within the
criminal justice agencies. This final section of this report highlights some of those measures being
considered and underway.
What can be done to change this?
The BCJB have discussed the benefits of the Community Prosecutor Initiative as described in the
‘Engaging Communities’ Green Paper. Plans are in place to implement this initiative in Bedfordshire
in June 2009. This initiative is strongly supported by BCJB as it will work towards strengthening the
links between the criminal justice agencies and the community.
This initiative will encourage and drive Crown Prosecutors to take notice of issues causing concern
within local communities and to consider how to tackle those issues ensuring justice is delivered
within communities. The Community Prosecutors will be expected to obtain community information
via CDRPs, Police Borough Command Units and hate crime scrutiny panels and will also be expected
to attend relevant meetings. This initiative will enable prosecutors to work with benches and advise
sentencers regarding the relevance and impact of the offence on the local community. The
Community Prosecutors will also be making robust and positive use of conditional cautioning to
deliver justice within communities.
Community Prosecutors will also make use of the newly introduced Community Impact Statements
(CIS) of which Bedfordshire are part of a pilot to test the effectiveness. It is anticipated that CIS
provide a vehicle to present local crime issues to the CPS and will also improve information sharing
between police and CPS enabling us to identify what is important to local communities and feed this
A Neighbourhood Crime and Justice Co-ordinator (NCJC)has been appointed in Luton with pioneer
area funding. This role has enabled the development of some excellent partnership and community
initiatives as explained below.
Eighteen volunteer Community Crime Fighters have been recruited and a serious of Fighting Against
Crime Together (FACT) meetings have been held within the community. These meetings have been
well attended by the local community, police, probation and council staff. The NCJC has instigated
work to focus on the Policing Pledge, in particular to aspire to the pledges from a multi-agency,
joined-up perspective. As part of this process, intelligence-sharing process are being enhanced.
Processes are being put in place to facilitate the criminal justice agencies to participate in the well-
embedded police community engagement model.
The Community Payback scheme has been reinvigorated under the co-ordination of the NCJC. The
probation and CDRP’s have been designated 3000 hours per year for projects which are chosen by
communities via the internet. This is a strong example of successful partnership working to deliver
justice within communities.
BCJB is developing some pioneering work focussing on developing 3rd sector partnerships within the
wider CDRP family. Examples of this include NHS Bedford and Luton, Benefits Agency, Housing
Agencies and Learning Skills Council who are engaging to consider integrated offender management.
For example NHS is looking at health needs assessments of offending populations in order to
develop intervention to target and prevent people from entering the CJS. Staff from these agencies
can work with individuals to point out health choices, assist them with benefits to remove a financial
motive to commit crime, while using LSC to assist them with qualifications for improved job
opportunities. Although such tactics have been previously employed to target offenders within the
prison system, the work of the BCJB targets such people before they end up in prison and indeed
tackle the very issues that will prevent re-offending.
Practitioners have highlighted some excellent partnership links with Youth Offending Teams and
there have been several success stories in terms of delivering justice in communities. YOT workers
have been particularly effective in offering mediation but also in assisting with the obtaining and
management of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. While the work of the YOTs was extremely valuable in
deterring young offenders from re-offending, it was felt that this resource is suffers from a lack of
funding which limits the number of cases the teams can engage with.
YOTs appear to be extremely keen to engage with police to implement restorative justice schemes
to deliver justice within communities but also to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young
people. The introduction of the Single Confidence measure within the Police Service is anticipated to
reduce bureaucracy while returning discretion to front line officers, enabling them to commit to
engaging with this process.
The factual and anecdotal evidence presented above illustrates a progressive and realistic picture of
partnership working between criminal justice agencies within Bedfordshire. It should be highlighted
that the report has been written from the perspective of the police and our partnership colleagues
would be likely to present a differing set of challenges.
There are a plethora of examples which describe the successful partnerships forged particularly at
strategic level. This strategic partnership is fundamental to encouraging and facilitating partnership
working within local communities. New and exciting initiatives have been made possible due to
enhanced funding and the dedication of criminal justice agency resources to community based
However, several frustrations have been experienced, particularly by those officers working within
the community who are keen to engage and provide transparent and empowering information to
the community. In the past, buy-in from criminal justice agencies at the grass roots level has
appeared ineffective making it difficult for those agencies to truly understand and impact on locally
held concerns. Those barriers are in the process of being dismantled with the appointment of a NCJC
and shared confidence targets.
There is much to be done to progress partnership working at grass roots level but there is also a
clear commitment, drive and energy to nurture this process in order to inspire confidence and to
make Bedfordshire safer.