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Council promises to act on recommendations from pioneering community-based crime commission

New police officers, with Councillor Jas Athwal, Leader, London Borough of Redbridge (Photo: Andrew Baker)

An East London borough has adopted a pioneering, community-based approach to prevent and manage crime. In a move which could be replicated across the country, the London Borough of Redbridge is the first local authority to give residents a real say in shaping services, policies and budgets aimed at improving community safety.

Following the biggest public consultation in its history, Redbridge Council last year identified the issues that most concern residents and established an independent Community Crime Commission of 16 local people with personal experience of the issues, to advise on ways to tackle them.

The initiative was welcomed by local residents as a means of giving them a voice on issues which can blight daily life in the borough. Commissioner Taiwo Ademola commented at the launch of the Commission: “This is an amazing opportunity to make real, tangible change, here in my local community.”

Public engagement was further deepened with the setting up of a 60-strong panel of local residents, the Community Voice, designed to be representative of Redbridge as a whole. Panel members were invited to comment on the key issues as the evidence-gathering process gained momentum.

The Commissioners’ investigations uncovered a series of systemic factors undermining efforts to create a safer community including agencies not working effectively together, artificial thresholds for support that mean young people don’t get help early enough to protect them from criminality, and low levels of confidence amongst residents that things can improve.

The Commissioners’ findings have now been published in a wide-ranging report which makes 48 recommendations on anti-social behaviour, burglary, domestic abuse, violence against women and girls, and drugs and street violence. As well as specific actions targeting each area, the Commission is calling for a new, system-wide approach based on a shared long-term vision. They want to see a multi-agency commitment to change, meaningful public accountability for progress and a significant improvement in the quality and consistency of communication between service providers and with residents.

The report emphasises the need to use existing resources more effectively, co-locating service providers and working closely with local people to design the services they need, making them easier to access and more responsive to residents’ needs.

Redbridge Enforcement Hub (Photo: Justin Thomas)

Along with its partners, including the Metropolitan Police, the Council has already responded to the report. In addition to restructuring and reprofiling resources to meet the recommendations, a budget of £1.2 million has so far been committed for 2022, with additional investment expected as initiatives are developed.

Several of the Commission’s recommendations focus on better neighbourhood policing, joined-up services, and working more closely with local communities to win back public confidence. As a result the Council is expanding its ‘enforcement hubs’. These fixed and mobile walk-in centres have been established in two areas in advance of roll out across the whole borough. They provide a dedicated space where people can get help and advice directly from the police and enforcement officers.

The Chair of the Community Crime Commission, Dr Javed Khan OBE, said: ‘Agencies must work more closely together, rapidly sharing information, and must be much better connected to the communities they support. Otherwise, people fall through the cracks. The enforcement hubs are a good example of this approach, as they bring services together and they take those services to where people are within the community, making it easier for residents to access them.’

Other recommendations from the Commission, on which the Council and its partners are already working, include:

  • The deployment of 25 new police officers as part of the Town Centre Safety Team
  • Support for young people before they fall into criminality, with activity in secondary schools to prevent gang membership and anti-social behaviour
  • The establishment of a new youth hub and mentoring schemes for young people
  • A change to police policy to ensure every victim of a burglary is offered a police visit
  • Additional operational staff for the 24/7 CCTV centre
  • Seamless support for victims of domestic abuse with the provision of a new ‘single front door’ and a single phone number
  • Workshops for young people on safety

Dr Khan said: ‘Fresh, practical ideas for solving difficult problems come from the people who live with those problems every day. This process, of genuine community involvement in tackling crime, has been ground-breaking. We are pleased to see that the Council is already acting on our recommendations.’

The Leader of Redbridge Council, Jas Athwal, said: ‘This process represents a step-change in how local people can engage with public services. Their experiences of what we do and their ideas on how we can better work together will help to create a safer borough. We are now focusing on the issues we know concern them, including women’s safety, and access to the police and other services.’

Click to read the report: crimecommission.redbridge.gov.uk/

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