The annual Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s conference featured an opportunity for delegates to take part in solution finding workshops.
The event focused on Partnerships in Action and welcomed delegates from the emergency services, public authorities and community organisations, all keen to share and find out more about projects tackling crime in the county.
Four hour-long workshops looked at a multi-agency approach to gangs; making volunteering great again; improving community safety through collaboration; and how to work effectively with community organisations.
Delegates were able to select one of the workshops to attend on the day.
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, said: “The day was amazing. So many people from so many different partnerships got together. The workshops generated a raft of new ideas, and have inspired those who took part to want to work together to deal with issues we cannot resolve individually, on vulnerable people, road safety, and the impact of social media and the internet.”
Gangs: a multi-agency approach
Delegates were set the challenge of putting themselves in the mind set of drug dealers and planning how they would bring drugs into the county.
They were also given operational updates on how the problem is being dealt with and heard from Essex County Council intelligence team on how data is being used to tackle gangs.
Jim Pearson, of the Youth Offending Service, ran the session and explained how gangs are flexible and fast paced in decision-making and can change operational approach within just 20 minutes and two phone calls.
He said: “The workshop looked at collaboration and how all services can work together to share information about how the plans are created and how we can disrupt those plans. That way, we get an idea of what’s going on around the county, so we can be more targeted.
“Because we all manage different parts of the operation, it’s about drawing that together as one whole rather than dealing with it separately. It’s about how we bring all of that together. It is much more effective if we are working in the same direction and doing the same thing.”
Make volunteering great again
How volunteers can help to tackle community safety issues, road safety, home safety and incidents of violence with injury was discussed at the workshop.
Superintendent Simon Anslow ran the session with Andrea MacAlister from Essex County Fire & Rescue Service and Alison Semmence, Chief Executive Officer of Southend Association of Voluntary Services.
Emma Callaghan, from the Office of the PFCC, said: “This was an opportunity look at the issues and have conversations about why they are issues.
“It’s about looking at how we can use volunteers to help to minimise the risks and what can be done with volunteering to keep people safe. We also discussed how to attract volunteers and, once we have them on board, how do we keep them.
“With some volunteers in the room for the workshop, we were able to discuss how to bring volunteers into the organisation and how we could work in partnership.”
Improving community safety through collaboration
Discussions were had around how partnerships could help to reduce road casualties.
The potential to broaden the partnerships to include insurance companies and car dealerships who could help to spread the message, as well as ways to make drink-driving “uncool” were also a focus.
Chief Superintendent Carl O’Malley led the session and said: “We thought about ways we could be pooling resources. The police have a unit which engages with the motorcycle unit and the ambulance service uses paramedics on motorbikes. It we look at our approach to motorbikes, could we be doing that together?
“We also looked at how people want us to communicate about collaborative activity. Some said if they understood the structure of all services, they could see where they fitted in with joined-up approaches and information sharing.
“We are all dealing with the same cohort of people and we need to be more engaged and working together rather than individually.”
How to work effectively with community organisations
The community workshop looked at how faith-based organisations and public services could collaborate to improve social outcomes for the people of Essex.
Shammi Jalota, Essex County Council Head of Partnerships and Equality, told delegates how there is no one single organisation that can tackle the challenges alone.
He said: “The challenges public services now face are more complex than ever, however collaboration provides an exciting opportunity to help our communities to unleash their potential.
“Participants at the workshop built on what faith organisations are already doing to tackle disadvantages and social isolation, and to increase community capacity by learning from each other and sharing best practice. There are many great examples of community volunteer-led activity throughout Essex, by working together we can focus and align our work to protect our most vulnerable people, and support our communities to flourish.”
Mr Jalota told how around 40 per cent of Essex Police call-outs are mental health related and asked the question of how faith based organisations could help people to feel less isolated.
He said: “We have a shared ambition to promote inclusive communities. Basildon, Braintree, Colchester, Maldon, and Chelmsford Local Authorities, the Voluntary sector, Essex Police and Fire and a Mental Health Trust have already signed up to the Essex Faith Covenant – a pledge by faith leaders to work together to tackle social issues – in recognition of the likeminded community work that faith organisations are doing – they are simply wearing a different uniform and are often the fourth emergency service.”
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