- Community Safety Partnerships to be piloted for two years in Dublin’s North Inner City, Waterford and Longford
- Local communities to work with State services to draw up local plans to prevent crime in their own areas
- State services to be held to account by Independently chaired Community Safety Partnerships
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today announced three locations where new Local Community Safety Partnerships will be established on a pilot basis as a first step to strengthening community policing nationwide.
The pilots, which will run for two years, will be located in the Dublin North Inner City Local Electoral Area, Waterford City and County Council and Longford. The locations of the pilots were chosen based on factors including population density, crime rates and deprivation.
Each Local Community Safety Partnership will have an independent chairperson and will develop a Local Community Safety Plan.
The Partnerships will bring together residents, community representatives, business interests, councillors, local authorities and State services such as An Garda Síochána, Tusla and the HSE to devise and implement the Local Community Safety Plans.
The Plans will detail how best the community wants to prevent crime and will reflect community priorities and local safety issues. The goal is to make communities safer for families, residents and businesses.
It is envisaged that every local authority area will have a Community Safety Partnership, with dedicated funding and staff, once the policy is rolled out nationally as part of reforms outlined by the Commission on the Future of Policing.
Minister McEntee is making funding available from her Department for the pilot projects.
Minister McEntee said:
The community safety approach recognises that the problems communities face are not just limited to policing issues. Bringing the right services together, working with each other to tackle the underlying issues which impact on our community and the sense of safety within the community is at the heart of the Local Community Safety Partnership model.
But what will drive the agenda and objectives of the Partnerships will be the community itself. The community needs to be central in identifying what it needs and helping to shape solutions.
The Partnerships will replace and will be more community led than the existing Joint Policing Committee structures.
The active engagement of community representatives, including youth and new/minority communities, along with residents will be critical in ensuring the success of the Partnerships.
Training will be provided to support the capacity of the Partnerships to work together, including individual training for residents to develop their understanding of their role and to build confidence in representing their community.
This announcement by Minister McEntee marks the start of the process of establishing Local Community Safety Partnerships in the three pilot areas.
The next steps will involve engaging with residents, community representatives and other stakeholders in Dublin, Longford and Waterford to progress this exciting initiative.
The Minister added:
The pilots in Longford, Waterford and Dublin’s North Inner City are will have a critical role to play in shaping the new Partnerships.
They will be carefully evaluated and any necessary changes can be made to ensure that the Local Community Safety Partnerships work as effectively as possible. After the pilot and evaluation process, Local Community Safety Pilots will be rolled out across the country in all local authority areas.
In addition to the three pilot locations, there are also other ongoing initiatives in areas which have recently experienced safety concerns.
The Dublin City Council North Central Area Committee recently engaged former Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan to develop a socio-economic and community plan for the Darndale area. The Department of Justice will engage with the findings and recommendations arising from the report, which was published in October, and Minister McEntee is fully committed to working with the Council to ensure its implementation.
Minister McEntee has also appointed Vivian Geiran, the former Director of the Probation Service, to carry out a scoping exercise to assess the impact that criminal activity in Drogheda is having on the community and make recommendations for action going forward. Mr Geiran is expected to complete this work in the coming weeks and the Minister intends to act on foot of his report.
Community Safety Policy
In line with the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, the Department of Justice has been developing a new national Community Safety policy which will feed into the development of a new Policing and Community Safety Bill. It is intended that the Bill will redefine the functions of An Garda Síochána to include community safety. However, as the Commission recognised, community safety is not just the responsibility of An Garda Síochána. There is a role for other agencies of Government, such as health and social services, as well as other sectors of society. The proposed legislation will place an obligation on relevant Departments, State agencies and local authorities to cooperate with An Garda Síochána in delivering community safety.
What is Community Safety?
Community safety is about people being safe and feeling safe in their community. It is much wider than crime or fear of crime. It can include activities like responsiveness of emergency services, mental health issues, educational work with young people, drug prevention, alcohol and substance abuse, domestic violence, youth crime, anti-social behaviour, hate crime and the built environment. Responses need to be community-specific and will require a range of different services, for example strengthening youth services or increasing street lighting. Improving community safety requires a multi-sectoral approach, strong inter-agency collaboration and engagement from the community.
Who will be on the Local Community Safety Partnerships?
Membership of the Local Community Safety Partnership will include:
- Community representatives (including representatives of youth, new communities and the voluntary sector);
- Business and education representatives;
- Relevant public services in the area, including HSE, Tusla, AGS, and the local authority;
- Local councillors.
An independent Chairperson will chair the Partnership.
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