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Community safety strategy

Our community safety strategy sets out how community safety works at Harlow Council, our current priorities and how we plan to work with our partners to act on these. 

Community safety strategy 2022 to 2025

Foreword from Councillor Joel Charles

Introduction

Impact and vision

Community Safety team

Current priorities

Key challenges

Partnership working

Community engagement and communication

Links to other partnerships, strategies and agencies

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Foreword from Councillor Joel Charles

One of the council’s priorities is to ensure that people feel safe in their community.

The council works closely with Essex Police, the office for Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner and relevant criminal justice partners to address concerns about crime and antisocial behaviour locally.

There is never any complacency about the challenge. The town centre has had to bear witness to criminal activity and violent incidents that require a continued zero-tolerance approach, tackling domestic violence remains a key priority, fear of crime in underpasses is being addressed, reducing hate crime matters, and the impact of county lines gangs is an issue the council continues to confront head on as a community leader.

Through the council’s Community Safety team and Safer Harlow Partnership, much progress has been achieved to raise awareness and deliver a coordinated approach, but there is an acknowledgment that more can be done to deliver targeted action that reduces incidents of crime and antisocial behaviour.

This strategy refreshes the council’s community safety priorities and reasserts its commitment to work with residents across the town to provide reassurance that crime and antisocial behaviour will not be allowed to go unnoticed and will be dealt with in a timely, effective and appropriate manner.   

I know that residents also want to see greater transparency when it comes to working with the council to address antisocial behaviour. At the point when a resident reports an incident of antisocial behaviour, that individual should always feel their concerns are being taken seriously. The council wants to be more responsive to antisocial behaviour and implementation of this strategy will help us to deliver on that ambition.

Visibility is important too. The council will look at new ways to improve its community safety presence, so that residents can visibly see a more proactive response on the ground. One way to deliver greater visibility and closer working is to bring all the relevant policing and criminal justice partners together as part of a community safety hub. The council is working to make this a reality because better collaboration will enable a more focused approach and the smarter deployment of resources to take swifter action.

Action that helps those who have committed crime in the past to understand the consequences of their actions is important too. The council will support the work of criminal justice partners as they help individuals progress on their rehabilitation journey. This work is a key part of community-led crime prevention.

By working in partnership, better transparency, improved visibility and a zero-tolerance approach, the council is confident that more residents will feel a renewed sense of confidence that Harlow is a place where people can live, work and bring up a family without the fear of crime and antisocial behaviour.

Councillor Joel Charles, Portfolio Holder for Business and Community Resilience

Introduction

Section 6 of The Crime and Disorder Act 1988 requires a group of statutory agencies, known as ‘responsible authorities’ to come together to work collectively as a Community Safety Partnership (CSP) to:

  • identify local community safety issues
  • formulate and implement strategies to address such matters
  • take forward operational activity to tackle crime and disorder in the area

CSPs are a statutory function requiring responsible authorities to work together to address community safety issues in a local area, this work is underpinned by key legislation and guidance as outlined in Appendix 1 of this document.

Harlow Council leads the town’s CSP, which is known locally as the Safer Harlow Partnership (SHP) and will be referred to as such throughout this document. The SHP meets twice a year.

Harlow is part of the West Essex local policing area, along with Epping Forest, Brentwood and Thurrock.

Harlow’s responsible authorities are:

  • Essex County Council
  • Essex County Fire and Rescue Service
  • Essex Police
  • Harlow Council
  • Probation Service
  • Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Partnership   

SHP statutory responsibilities include:

  • providing a framework for sharing information to support local problem solving
  • producing strategic assessments of need which inform the work of the SHP
  • reducing reoffending
  • commissioning domestic homicide reviews

The chair of the SHP Board is the Chief Executive of Harlow Council and the chair of the Responsible Authorities Group is the Director of Communities and Environment at Harlow Council.

The SHP is supported by a wide range of local private, community and voluntary organisations that make a valuable contribution to identifying and tackling antisocial behaviour and crime in our town. These agencies and groups include Victim Support, Neighbourhood Watch, Citizens Advice Harlow, Changing Pathways, a number of social housing providers and a range of community support services. A full list of current SHP member agencies can be seen under Appendix 2 of this document.

The overarching aim of the SHP is to reduce and prevent crime and disorder and improve the lives of all local people. The partnership ensures a particular focus on supporting and protecting individuals and groups that are identified as vulnerable, disadvantaged or underrepresented.

The work of the SHP is supported by themed priority subgroups, which are multi-agency and meet quarterly. These subgroups are usually, but not always, chaired by a senior member of staff from one of the responsible authority agencies and supported by a lead officer from Harlow Council. They are multi agency groups and are established with the sole purpose of working to tackle SHP identified priorities. Each subgroup has its own operational action plan detailing what work will be undertaken to help achieve the objectives of the partnership.

The current priority subgroups are:

  • Antisocial Behaviour and Crime Group
  • Domestic Abuse Forum
  • Gangs Advisory Group
  • Hate Crime Group
  • Permitted Development Housing Group

Each year the SHP produces a strategic assessment to assist Harlow Council and its partners in understanding crime, disorder, antisocial behaviour and other community safety issues that are affecting our town. The strategic assessment also enables us to identify and determine strategic priorities for the coming year.

Harlow Council is committed to keeping its residents, businesses and environment safe and free from antisocial behaviour and crime and employs a dedicated team of staff to deliver educational, preventative and enforcement activity to help achieve that specific goal. More information about the council’s Community Safety team can be seen in section 3 of this document.

This strategy is driven by 3 overarching objectives that act as the foundation statements upon which efforts will be made to build and strengthen the work the council undertakes with partner agencies and the local community to achieve its community safety objectives. These are:

  1. Strengthening our engagement with residents. This will allow us to better understand what matters to local people and how their lives are affected by crime and antisocial behaviour so that we can respond appropriately and effectively. Where possible and appropriate, this work will involve working together with local people to identify and deliver community-led solutions.
  2. Implementing a renewed and more proactive approach to community safety. This will include an early identification and intervention approach to help prevent crime before it happens, reduce the likelihood of issues escalating, ensure increased presence and visibility of officers in the community and promote appropriate support for victims of crime. This work will also have a focus on protecting those that are most vulnerable to crime, antisocial behaviour, violence in all forms, abuse and exploitation.
  3. Adopting a zero-tolerance approach to crime and antisocial behaviour. This will involve working even more closely with police and criminal justice partners as well as a broader range of agencies to ensure that community safety issues are identified and tackled swiftly. Perpetrators will be dealt with appropriately too, through supporting work to ensure they face up to the consequences of their actions. A key part of this work will be to raise awareness of how members of the public can and should report crime responsibly.

This document outlines the way in which Harlow Council works with partners to deliver its organisational aims and that of the SHP. It sets out how we will identify and tackle current and emerging community safety issues and overcome challenges. It also sets out our future plans to improve partnership working with the responsible authorities, other agencies, and local people to reduce crime and improve community safety. We will do this by creating and maintaining a safe environment in which people from all backgrounds can live safely and happily alongside one another; a place where people will want to come to work and enjoy visiting; and a place where businesses will locate, thrive, and prosper.

For the purpose of this strategy ‘local people’ are defined as people likely to be affected by, or particularly interested in, a particular function or issue. As well as residents of Harlow, included in this definition are people who work or study in the town, visitors to our community, service users, third sector groups and businesses operating in the district. The term ‘resident’ incorporates all tenures, including council and private tenants, leaseholders and people living in privately owned properties.

Impact and vision

Community safety is not just an issue for police and fire and rescue services. The council, private companies, community and voluntary groups and individuals can all contribute in a variety of ways. Everyone has a part to play in building safe, strong, and more resilient communities.

Community safety is about feeling safe, whether that is at home, in the community or at work. Whether people feel and are safe or not can contribute hugely to the overall quality of life, physical and mental health, and wellbeing. It can also have a bearing on the ability to make the most of social, domestic and economic opportunities available to individuals, without fear or hindrance of crime and disorder or antisocial behaviour.

Crime and antisocial behaviour can have a hugely detrimental effect on individuals, families, businesses and communities. Living in unsafe neighbourhoods can also cause anxiety, depression, stress, economic decline and an increase in community tensions. That is why we are committed to identifying and tackling community safety issues that affect our residents, our communities and our town.

Harlow Council works proactively with responsible authorities and other partners to ensure there is sufficient access to information and the data needed to help identify key issues and prioritise where resources are deployed.  Priorities will be reviewed regularly to ensure action can be taken to react quickly to changing trends and emerging issues and each SHP priority subgroup will produce an action plan setting out how to tackle and reduce crime, antisocial behaviour, violence in all forms, abuse and exploitation.

Our vision:

We want Harlow to be a place where residents know their safety is important to us and have confidence in the way in which the council, police and other agencies respond to their issues and concerns.

We will create a safer Harlow by working collaboratively to identify and tackle the impact of crime, alcohol, drugs, domestic abuse and antisocial behaviour. By addressing abuse and exploitation, wherever it surfaces, we can help to protect the most vulnerable in our town too.

We will ensure that our officers are more present and visible in the community; that community safety concerns are taken seriously, appropriate action is taken to deal with offenders, victims have the right access to support and work to improve trust and confidence in services.

To help achieve our vision, the council continuously reviews the way in which it receives and responds to reports of crime and antisocial behaviour and how we assist residents to access helpful advice and support when they have been a victim of crime.

We will work hard to identify new and emerging trends and, by adopting an early identification and intervention approach, will take action to help prevent residents becoming victims in the first place.

By working with our SHP partners, we will raise awareness of all crime types, ensure residents know how to report antisocial behaviour and crime responsibly, and work with the Probation Service to reduce reoffending and support the rehabilitation of offenders.

Community Safety team

The council takes its legislative responsibilities seriously and employs a team of professionals, who are police-accredited, to deliver the council’s community safety agenda. The team works proactively alongside Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Essex County Council, Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Partnership, the Probation Service and a range of community and voluntary groups to tackle and reduce all forms of antisocial behaviour and crime across all areas of the town.

Our Community Safety team supports Essex Police tasking meetings, educational, preventative and enforcement activity and the execution of targeted operations such as, amongst others, Operation Henderson, which aims to raise awareness of child exploitation on public transport. The team also supports Operation Sceptre, which helps tackle knife crime.  

The team consists of:

  • a Community Safety Manager for Strategy and Policy
  • 2 Community Safety Team Leaders
  • 4 Community Safety Officers
  • 3 Community Rangers
  • a CCTV Technical Officer
  • an Events and Emergency Planning Officer

Working collaboratively with a range of statutory and non-statutory partners, the team actively works to reduce antisocial behaviour, crime and disorder through targeted patrols and engagement across all areas of the town, but focuses its efforts and resources on areas identified as ‘hotspots’ through local police data, intelligence and reports made by the public through the council’s Contact Harlow service.

The work of the team includes:

  • assisting Essex Police to identify and target county lines and gang related activity
  • supporting victims of crime such as those being ‘cuckooed’ for the purposes of exploitation
  • assisting targeted patrols
  • offering technical support

Our Community Safety team will play an instrumental role in working alongside partners to deliver the priorities set out in section 4 of this strategy and in addition will focus their work on the following activity in 2022 to 2023:

  1. Monitoring the effectiveness of the public spaces protection orders to help reduce antisocial behaviour in the town centre and taking swift remedial action if issues continue or new problems arise. This work will include developing a better understanding of the nature and extent of problems caused by the use of e-scooters.
  2. Explore opportunities to increase presence and visibility in the community and strengthen proactive early intervention and prevention work alongside the need to be reactive to immediate demand.
  3. Strengthen community engagement around hate crime in line with the new Essex Police hate crime reduction initiative.
  4. Increase engagement with children and young people through the team’s school’s education programme to help raise awareness of the impact of crime and antisocial behaviour. The principal aim will be to reduce antisocial behaviour and youth crime in the community.
  5. Support delivery of Crucial Crew to all Year 6 pupils attending Harlow primary schools to raise awareness of personal and community safety issues, promote healthy relationships and lifestyle and support children’s transition to secondary school.
  6. Continue to extend and improve CCTV provision across all areas of the town to assist identification of perpetrators of crime and increase the number of successful prosecutions through the criminal justice system. The use of CCTV has contributed to a reduction in antisocial behaviour and crime and supported successful arrests by the police.

The council’s Community Safety team has installed 49 CCTV cameras in various locations across the town.

The purpose of these cameras is to deter crime and disorder and provide evidential quality images and footage to assist investigations that bring perpetrators to justice.

CCTV coverage can help reduce incidences of antisocial behaviour, crime and serious violence by:

  • assisting the police and other enforcement agencies to identify suspects
  • monitoring the activity of individuals and groups
  • detering people from using certain areas for criminal and antisocial activities

In July 2022, 4 incidents occurred in Harlow underpasses which were recorded on CCTV cameras, thus supporting police investigations, these included:

  • violence with injury (stabbing)
  • sexual assault and robbery
  • criminal damage and theft

The use of a static CCTV camera enabled the identification of a sex offender who was arrested, taken to court and convicted. The perpetrator is now serving a custodial sentence.

The Community Safety team also has access to a drone and has trained team members to become fully qualified drone pilots. The use of the drone has assisted with the identification of illegal encampments, land encroachments and building surveys.

Our experienced drone pilots can also utilise the equipment to help identify, provide support and advice to rough sleepers in hard-to-reach areas such as secluded spaces and woodlands. The drone has also proved invaluable in identifying areas which may become fire hazardous during particularly hot, dry weather spells.

The team has recently supported the Metropolitan Police to carry out targeted work leading to the arrest of 5 individuals working as part of an organised crime group in Harlow. These arrests removed dangerous criminals from the streets of Harlow and restored peace and a sense of safety and security for residents in areas affected by the group’s criminal activity. 

The council is proud of the work its Community Safety team undertakes and its contribution to help make Harlow a safe place to live, work and visit.

Current priorities

Each year, in its role as the lead agency for the SHP, the council works with partners to identify current priorities and allocate its own dedicated resources and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (PFCC) annual community safety grant to meet identified need. Our action plans must be focused on identified priorities, yet fluid enough to be responsive to changing local need, to be able to confront new and emerging trends and be aware of the changing demographics in the town. 

Where possible and relevant, the council’s community safety priorities and action plans are aligned to the Essex Police and Crime Plan, and are informed by the annual strategic assessment, local policing data and the views and opinions of our partners and residents.   

The council’s community safety priorities for 2022 to 2025 will include a strong and consistent focus on the 6 priority areas listed below. We will work closely with our partners and residents to ensure that we are aware of any new or emerging trends that negatively impact, or have the potential to negatively impact, our communities.

We will continue to work closely with Essex Police to identify and better understand the nature and extent of organised crime, serious violence and violence against women and girls, and will work with our partners to address identified issues targeting our resources where they are most needed and will have the most impact.

Our priorities and action plans will be regularly reviewed and amended to ensure we can respond to changing need in a timely, appropriate and effective way. In addition, the SHP will introduce its own high level strategic action plan, overseen by the Responsible Authorities Group, incorporating all elements of SHP priority subgroup activity to ensure partnership objectives are being met. An annual SHP achievements report will be published so that residents can see the difference that the PFCC annual community safety grant and effective partnership working has made to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime.

Priority 1: antisocial behaviour and crime

We plan to:

  • tackle and reduce antisocial behaviour and crime in all its different forms across all wards of the town
  • identify current issues and emerging trends and hotspots, and direct resources appropriately to tackle these issues and prevent escalation
  • improve CCTV coverage and monitoring to assist detection of perpetrators and increase the number of successful prosecutions
  • promote reporting pathways and responsible reporting to help protect individuals, groups and communities from the impact of antisocial behaviour and crime
  • work with the business community through the Harlow Chamber of Commerce and Business Forum to tackle business crime, fraud, scams and other community safety issues that affect the opportunity for them to thrive, grow and be prosperous
  • identify and tackle issues caused by the increase in use of e-scooters

Priority 2: domestic abuse

We plan to:

  • raise awareness and understanding of domestic abuse and the devastating impact it can have on individuals, families, and communities
  • help to ensure that professionals are trained appropriately to be able to recognise signs and signpost victims to effective support services
  • encourage and support access to perpetrator behaviour change programmes to reduce reoffending and protect children and families
  • promote the domestic violence disclosure scheme (Clare’s law) to increase awareness and opportunity to exercise the ‘right to ask’ to support victims or potential victims
  • promote the J9 domestic abuse awareness initiative and support local and national domestic abuse campaigns and educational programmes

Priority 3: gangs and county lines

We plan to:

  • identify, tackle and reduce gang crime by raising awareness and understanding of gangs and the links to knife crime, drugs and serious youth violence
  • support the detection and disruption of county lines activity
  • identify and tackle the exploitation of children and young people through gangs and organised crime groups
  • ensure that professionals are trained appropriately to be able to recognise signs of exploitation and signpost victims or potential victims of exploitation to appropriate support services

Priority 4: hate crime

We plan to:

  • raise awareness of hate crime and the impact it can have on individuals, families and communities
  • promote established hate crime reporting pathways
  • actively encourage responsible reporting and, by raising greater public awareness and understanding, seek to reduce the number of people affected by this type of crime
  • support and promote the Essex Police hate crime reduction initiative
  • deliver a programme of hate crime ambassador training

Priority 5: permitted development housing

We plan to:

  • increase agency understanding of the issues faced by residents living in this type of accommodation through proactive engagement work
  • work with partners to ensure appropriate support is provided to vulnerable residents where possible
  • address issues of loneliness and isolation affecting people living in remote permitted development housing schemes by positively encouraging and supporting social integration and cohesion
  • deal effectively with crime, antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse taking place in permitted development housing sites
  • develop mutually effective working relationships and an information exchange with landlords and partner agencies
  • work closely with Essex County Council, other councils and the Local Government Association to develop and implement protocols to ease, and eventually stop, the flow of vulnerable people into this type of accommodation

Priority 6: protecting vulnerable people

This priority is ever present in everything we do and takes into account the importance of safeguarding and protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities.

We will work in partnership to:

  • support children and adults with mental health, alcohol and drug misuse issues by making appropriate and timely referrals
  • recognise and understand the importance of early intervention and prevention to stop issues escalating
  • ensure appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures are in place and staff know how to use them
  • assist in tackling perpetrators who groom individuals or groups for the purposes of abuse or exploitation - particularly vulnerable adults, children and young people.
  • ensure professionals are appropriately trained and know how to spot the signs of abuse or exploitation and how to report concerns
  • respond to the needs of individuals and local communities who are vulnerable to specific crime types such as hate crime, elder abuse, harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour-based abuse

Key challenges

At the time of writing this strategy, Essex Police rolling crime data for reported incidences in Harlow for the 12-month period from June 2021 to June 2022 indicates the following:

  • antisocial behaviour is down 56.7% - a reduction of 2091, from 3689 incidences to 1598
  • victim based crimes is up 16.6% - an increase of 1353, from 8155 incidences to 9508, but solved outcomes have also risen 29.5%
  • violence without injury is up 14.5% - an increase of 273, from 1883 incidences to 2156
  • robbery of business property is up 120% - an increase of 6, from 5 incidences to 11
  • robbery of personal property is up 1.3% - an increase of 1, from 77 incidences to 78
  • burglary from residential properties is up 18.3% - an increase of 51, from 279 incidences to 330
  • burglary from businesses and the community is up 12.8% - an increase of 10, from 78 incidences to 88
  • theft of pedal cycles is down 29% - a reduction of 38, from 131 incidences to 93
  • criminal damage is up 18.6% - an increase of 147, from 792 incidences to 939
  • arson is down 24% – a reduction of 24, from 100 incidences to 76.
  • domestic abuse is up 16.9% - an increase of 316, from 1867 incidences to 2183
  • stalking and harassment is up 9% - an increase of 147, from 1636 incidences to 1783

The council, along with statutory and non-statutory agencies, businesses and community and voluntary sector partners will work proactively with Essex Police to continue to identify, tackle and drive down antisocial behaviour and crime. This will be achieved through the work of SHP multi-agency priority subgroups, joint campaigns and operations, existing and new initiatives and by working with the community to strengthen our understanding of how, why and when local people are affected by crime and antisocial behaviour.

Crime and antisocial behaviour is unfortunately present in all wards across Harlow, but some wards are more affected than others. We will always be led by local data and changing need to ensure our resources are targeted where they are most needed and will have the most community benefit.

In addition to the priority actions listed above, the council will continue to focus its efforts and resources to address the following key challenges:

National increase in violence against women and girls

We will work with Essex Police to identify the nature and extent of violence against women and girls in Harlow and undertake activity to help ensure that women and girls of all ages feel safe at home and whilst out in the community. This work has already begun and the town’s CCTV provision has been extended and improved to provide reassurance that secluded areas, often crime and antisocial behaviour hotspots, have adequate camera coverage.

Serious organised crime

We will work with our partners to develop a better understanding of the nature and extent of serious organised crime in Harlow and how partners can work better together to support the police to detect, disrupt and bring perpetrators of this type of criminal activity to justice. Working with Essex Police we will set up a local working group to identify ways to progress this area of work alongside developing our approach to violence against women and girls.

Education and awareness raising

We will strengthen the council’s work with schools, children and families to raise awareness of the signs of child abuse and crimes against vulnerable adults to reduce online, sexual, financial and criminal exploitation.

Tackle domestic abuse

Partners report seeing an increase in the number and severity of domestic abuse, stalking and harassment incidences. Through the work of the Harlow Domestic Abuse Forum, we will continue to raise awareness and understanding and promote opportunities for victims to get the help and support that they need in a timely manner. We will also support and promote opportunities for perpetrators to access behaviour change programmes to reduce the likelihood of reoffending and break the cycle of domestic abuse that can occur through generations if not addressed.

Gangs and county lines

Harlow currently has the highest number of county lines in Essex. We will support the police to detect, deter, disrupt and close down these lines and bring perpetrators to justice. Through the Harlow Gangs Advisory Group, we will lead on projects and new initiatives to raise children, young people and parent’s awareness of the dangers of becoming involved with gangs and county lines groups. This will be achieved through promoting opportunities to seek help and support if they are concerned about this type of crime.

Supporting victims of crime

Through the SHP we will strengthen our work with Victim Support and Neighbourhood Watch to ensure that victims of crime get the help, advice and support they need.

Community cohesion

Harlow has a growing population and this brings greater diversity within our wider community. We feel it is important for people to have a strong sense of identity and belonging in and around Harlow. Through our community engagement work, we will undertake activity to bring local people together to celebrate difference, identify common purpose and help build strong, connected communities where people from all backgrounds can live happily and safely alongside each other. Through the Harlow Hate Crime Panel, we will raise awareness and understanding of the impact of hate crime on individuals, families and communities, and train local people to become Hate Crime Ambassadors to help promote safe, responsible reporting pathways and opportunities for victims to access appropriate support.

Partnership working

A strong multi-agency partnership approach to tackling community safety issues can foster a collective sense of purpose as well as providing opportunities to reduce duplication and reduce costs by pooling and sharing resources, skills, experience and good practice.

A partnership approach allows agencies to get to know each other and develop better understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities in order to:

  • tackle community safety issues
  • improve opportunities for information sharing
  • acknowledge that no single agency can deal with, or be responsible for dealing with, complex community safety and crime issues

In addition, by sharing and combining information, agencies can gain a much better picture of local issues and the specific needs of the community.

In recent years other Essex CSPs have been successful in setting up community safety hubs, bringing together a range of statutory and non-statutory agencies to work collaboratively alongside one another in a designated space. These hubs foster:

  • closer more effective working relationships
  • better information sharing opportunities
  • pooling and sharing of resources
  • opportunities for joint campaigns and operations
  • a better understanding and appreciation of the roles and responsibilities of involved agencies

The council is leading discussions with responsible authorities to identify opportunities to set up a community safety hub in Harlow and, when established, this will support us to achieve our aim of delivering a more collaborative and proactive approach to community safety as well as increasing agencies presence and visibility in the community.

Through the SHP we will work to strengthen partnership working with the Probation Service to help reduce reoffending and support the work of Integrated Offender Management, which aims to help improve the quality of life in communities by:

  • reducing the negative impact of crime and reoffending
  • reducing the number of people who become victims of crime
  • helping to improve the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system

In the current climate, where demand for services is rising, local need is ever changing and agencies resources and capacity are limited, there has never been a better time to focus on building more and better opportunities for partnership working across all sectors.

“Harlow is a growing town, with a bright future, which is why it’s even more important that the council, police and partners continue to strengthen their relationship in the area of community safety.

"Much has already been achieved in some key areas, such as extra CCTV provision to make our underpasses and open spaces safer for all to enjoy and joint operations and collaborative working in areas such as permitted developments where increased cooperation has led to vulnerable residents being safeguarded and supported. Progress has been made to address crime and antisocial behaviour where cooperation in a number of areas, such as suppression of violence, has led to our streets being safer.

"The work continues to evolve and grow, as we look towards the next 12 months I am confident that even more joint working will be achieved in areas that are important to local residents, which will make Harlow a safer place to live and work."

Chief Inspector Paul Austin, Harlow District Commander - West Essex local policing area

Community engagement and communication

Harlow Council and the SHP use a range of different engagement tools and opportunities to ensure the views and opinions of residents, businesses and partner agencies are heard. This type of approach is important because those views are taken into consideration when making decisions about how to address community safety issues, and how local resources are utilised to ensure maximum benefit to the community.

These opportunities include:

  • PFCC public meetings
  • community engagement events, information stalls and drop-in events
  • the use of popular social media platforms
  • surveys, questionnaires and consultations
  • tenant and leaseholder groups and forums
  • residents’ associations.
  • newsletters, leaflets and posters
  • close working with Essex Police Community Engagement Officers

We recognise that there is a lot that can be learnt about local community safety issues from people that are either directly or indirectly affected. As such, we aim to improve the way in which we engage with local people to ensure we better understand what matters most to them and what their main concerns are about community safety issues. A key part of this work will be to look at ways in which we can improve transparency by keeping local people more informed about what the council will do to address their concerns.

Strengthening our engagement with residents is one of our main objectives going forward as it will contribute to our understanding of the causes and impact of crime and help us work with communities to tackle the underlying causes. Through this work, we also hope to provide reassurance about the council’s determination to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for residents.

Improving communication with local people will help us to ensure that:

  • local people’s views and opinions are sought, heard and taken into consideration when decisions about community safety priorities are made and resources are allocated
  • solutions to community safety issues are effective and sustainable
  • local people are involved in designing and delivering the solutions
  • local people have increased confidence that agencies are working together to create a safer Harlow

We will strive to continuously learn from evidenced-based best practice elsewhere and continuously seek new and innovative ways to better understand local people’s views on community safety issues.

A key action for the council in 2022 to 2023 will be to undertake a crime perception survey to help us better understand:

  • the things that local people are concerned about that affect them either directly or indirectly
  • what helps people feel safe in their own homes and in the wider community
  • how we can all work together to address identified issues

This document is separate but inextricably linked to the following:

Components

Crime and Disorder Act 1998

The Crime and Disorder Act places a statutory duty on responsible authorities to formulate a strategy to work together to reduce crime and disorder, combat substance misuse and reduce reoffending in the local area.

Section 17 of the act places a duty on local authorities to:

“Without prejudice to any other obligation imposed upon it, it shall be the duty of each authority to exercise its various functions with due regards to the likely effect of the exercise of those functions on, and the need to do all that it reasonably can to prevent, crime and disorder in its area (including antisocial behaviour and other behaviour adversely affecting the local environment) and the misuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances in its area”.

Section 115 makes provision for the sharing of information between agencies to reduce crime and disorder.

Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Antisocial behaviour often has a debilitating impact on victims and local communities. The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced a range of tools and powers for agencies to utilise in order to address incidents effectively and proportionately, whilst ensuring a greater focus on victims and their needs. 

Modern slavery

Modern slavery and human trafficking is a complex, organised and often hidden crime. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 identified Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) as having a key role in identifying and supporting victims from the range of crimes that it encompasses such as county lines, child exploitation, gangs, violent crime, drugs and begging amongst others. The role of CSPs is to ensure that information sharing is effectively embedded to allow effective disruption activities and enforcement.

Domestic homicide reviews (DHR)

A DHR will be established in the event that a domestic homicide occurs in Harlow in accordance with Section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. The SHP contributes financially to the delivery of a centralised DHR service delivered by the Southend Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board and through its PFCC annual community safety grant.

Prevent

Section 26 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty on certain bodies, in the exercise of their functions, to have “due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”, known as the ‘prevent duty’. The duty requires identified statutory agencies to consider the need to safeguard people most at risk of radicalisation through identification, early intervention and support. The prevent lead will receive and review the area counter terrorism local profile on a quarterly basis.

Safeguarding legislation

The partnership will be mindful of the statutory duty on all agencies outlined in the Children’s Act 1989 and 2004 and the Care Act 2014 to safeguard children, young people and adults with care and support needs from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Harlow Council has its own child and adult safeguarding policy in place and, as the lead agency for the SHP, expects all member agencies to have appropriate child and adult safeguarding arrangements in place.

Other legislation

The SHP will pay due regard to legislative implications as necessary.

SHP member agencies, including priority subgroups:

  • Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service
  • Barnardos
  • Caridon Property
  • Change Project
  • Changing Pathways
  • Children’s Society
  • Citizens Advice Harlow
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • Essex County Council
  • Essex County Fire and Rescue Service
  • Essex Police
  • Harlow Council
  • Harlow Ethnic Minority Umbrella
  • Harlow schools (various)
  • HTS
  • HCRG Care Group
  • Home Group
  • Integration Support Services
  • MIND in West Essex
  • Moat  
  • NHS
  • Open Road
  • Peabody
  • Probation Service
  • Rainbow Services
  • Re-think Mental Illness
  • Safer Places
  • Streets2Homes
  • Victim Support
  • West Essex Can
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