Working together to keep Essex safe
A highly successful working conference on community safety was held in Colchester late last week. The event included lively and thought-provoking workshops on three of the most important areas for all those working to keep Essex safe: supporting victims, tackling domestic abuse and reducing youth offending.
Speaking one year after the election of Police and Crime Commissioners, Nick Alston praised the excellent initiatives which exist in the county, run by community safety partnerships, the voluntary sector, district councils, unitary authorities, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Essex Police and the NHS. In the future, some community safety work – such as victims’ services and restorative justice schemes – will be directly commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
One of the areas of focus in the Police and Crime Plan for Essex is to reduce reoffending, and the latest Ministry of Justice figures reveal the good news that in our county the reoffending rate fell to 8.45 per cent in the last year, a drop from 9.42 per cent. The number of repeat offenders fell from 12,818 to 11,617 – in part a result of increased efforts around Integrated Offender Management schemes which ensure that offenders whose crimes cause the most damage and harm to local communities are managed by police and partner agencies in a co-ordinated way.
Mr Alston was keen to stress the importance of educational work to raise awareness of types of behaviour that are inherently risky. He was especially impressed with the efforts of organisations such as knifecrimes.org, Only Cowards Carry and SOS Rape Crisis in Southend, engaging with young people and providing them with a real framework of knowledge around matters such as weapons’ awareness and coercive sexual activity.
A highlight of the event was a presentation by the Open Road team who provide support for individuals affected by drugs or alcohol, and who run the SOS bus in Colchester.
Lindsay Whitehouse, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “The voluntary sector contains a wealth of talent, and this event enabled some truly committed people and organisations to link up with everyone involved in such key challenges as reducing offending and supporting victims across our county. This conference was instrumental in sharing good practice and working in partnership for the benefit of the wider Essex community. We need to maintain the positive momentum and seek to further drive down offending and the impact of crime.”
Amongst those attending the event on Friday November 29, 2013, were: Community Safety Partnerships from across the county, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Essex Drug And Alcohol Team, Only Cowards Carry, Open Road and the SOS Bus, Essex Police including members of the Road Safety team, Victim Support, NHS Commissioning, Women’s Refuge, Clinks, Boys Brigade and the Safer Essex team.