Inspectorate welcomes progress of Policing and Community Safety Partnerships but ‘more still to do’

The positive contribution made by Police and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) to improving community safety and engagement with the police, has been highlighted in a new report published today (22 August 2019) by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI).
The report - which comes five years after Inspectors called for PCSPs to cut their overheads and prove their value - found improvements had been made.

"Inspectors found evidence that PCSPs had benefitted from the creation of a smaller number of larger Council areas across Northern Ireland," said James Corrigan, Deputy Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

"Administrative costs linked to PCSPs had been cut from the previous level of 43% in 2014, to represent 20% or less of the £4.482m public money allocated to support the work of PCSPs in 2017-18.

"Inspectors identified the contribution made by strong PCSP managers and their support teams were essential to the success of the most effective PCSPs we engaged with," said Mr Corrigan.

However, the Deputy Chief Inspector said PCSPs had the capacity to develop further and CJI had made seven recommendations to enhance their profile, governance and operational arrangements.

The Deputy Chief Inspector indicated a significant level of work was being undertaken and funding made available by PCSPs to support projects and events that were of benefit to the community, such as providing assistance to vulnerable people, promoting road safety, tackling anti-social behaviour and supporting the night time economy.

Yet despite this effort, the contribution of the PCPS often went unacknowledged with public recognition instead given to more visible partner organisations.

"The 2017 Northern Ireland Omnibus Survey revealed only 44% of respondents had heard of PCSPs. Therefore we have recommended the strategic approach to communications should be reviewed within the 2019-20 planning cycle, with a view to building a clearer identity for PCSPs.

"This would promote greater knowledge and understanding of the role and work of PCSPs and how its activities link to improving community safety and developing positive relationships with the police," said Mr Corrigan.

He continued: "There is also a need to ensure the seven designated partner organisations of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland, Youth Justice Agency, Police Service, Education Authority, Health and Social Care Trusts, Fire and Rescue Service, and Housing Executive increase recognition of the role of the PCSPs within their own corporate planning activity.

"And that internally the contribution these organisations make to community safety as designated partners within the PCSP, is reported on and these achievements are recognised," said the Deputy Chief Inspector.

Inspectors also recommended the work of the overarching Belfast PCSP should be subsumed into that of the four district PCSPs serving north, south, east and west Belfast.

Mr Corrigan said the inspection report also made recommendations to support the more effective operation of PCSPs.

These practical recommendations aim to assist PCSPs to monitor police performance, achieve the outcomes identified in the local Policing Plan and help PCSPs secure further improvement in the areas they are heavily invested in, such as in relation to incidents of sexual and domestic violence and abuse.

In conclusion Mr Corrigan welcomed the progress made to date.

"I believe that if implemented, the recommendations in this report will support the direction of travel being pursued by local Councils. They will also help to bring PCSPs closer to delivering the meaningful accountability and partnership between the community and the Police Service of Northern Ireland envisioned as part of the new beginning for policing within the Patten Report when it was published 20 years ago," he said.