Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)
1. Introduction and background
The Police and Crime Plan (PCP) sets out the Mayor's ambitions for policing and recognises how critical it is to our efforts to make every community in London safer, that people are able to engage effectively with the MPS. Since their establishment in 2014 Safer Neighbourhood Boards (SNBs) have become embedded as an important borough level mechanism for delivering local police accountability and engagement, and local projects that address local concerns. The Police and Crime Plan 2017/21 (PCP) commits MOPAC to continuing to support the work of SNBs and the £1m SNB Fund supports those structures, community-led decision-making and the delivery of local police accountability.
The PCP contains a further commitment to conducting a review of public access and engagement, which will commence in 2017. As part of this work, MOPAC will consult with communities and work with the MPS on how to ensure that public access to the MPS [in the widest sense] is best tailored to meet the needs of Londoners. In the interim, SNBs will continue to exist and function in their current capacity, and will be a key stakeholder in the review process.
2. Safer Neighbourhood Boards
2.1. The SNB Fund, which has historically been £1m per annum, supports community-led decision-making and local police accountability at a relatively modest cost [per borough]. The Fund is separated into two elements, with approximately £164, 000 divided equally amongst all SNBs (£5,200 each) to support administration. The remainder of the Fund is provided to SNBs to support the local crime prevention and engagement projects of their choosing. To date since 2013, the funding has supported almost 350 projects across the 32 boroughs. Almost three quarters of the funded projects have had a community engagement outreach element to them. Many have targeted some of the most vulnerable or under-represented groups in respect of policing and crime, including young people, older people, Eastern European and black and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
2.2. As part of an ongoing programme of support MOPAC supports the SNBs through forum events, facilitating learning and development and ensuring the effective engagement of the MPS in their work. In addition, as well as providing one-to-one support, MOPAC also provides surgeries to support SNBs in developing their applications to the SNB Fund, and training seminars on using the bespoke SNB data dashboard. However, given that they are still relatively new structures, SNBs are at varying stages of development and maturity. This differential is attributable to the variable internal capacity within the SNB membership and to the different models of provision for the administration and support of day-to-day delivery at the local level.
2.3. The PCP commits to continuing to support the SNBs and it is proposed that commitment be fulfilled by the continuation in 2017/18 of the SNB Fund and related officer support. To address the potential need for additional delivery capacity, as of 2017/18, SNBs may, on a case-by-case basis, request to allocate a greater proportion of their overall funding to support delivery and administration. The funding criteria have been realigned to ensure projects are aligned to the key principles of putting victims first and reducing inequalities, and are focussed on the PCP priorities areas; keeping children and young people safe, tackling violence against women and girls and hate crime.
On the basis of the discussion above, the DMPC is asked to approve £1m in 2017/18 to support SNB delivery up to the maximums indicated in Appendix A.
3. Public Access and Engagement Review
3.1. The PCP recognises the value of these structures and also acknowledges that the landscape within which SNBs are operating is changing, e.g. with the introduction of new police borough command structures and the introduction of local priority setting through the Police and Crime Plan. As such, the PCP commits to consulting SNBs and others on how the MPS should engage in future and as part of that it will be necessary and prudent to work with SNBs to review the model to ensure they are best placed to meet the new requirements of the PCP.
3.2. The SNB mechanisms are just one of the ways in which the public is engaged in the work of MOPAC and the MPS. There are many more Londoners who engage more locally with police through neighbourhood ward panels and neighbourhood watches. However, there will be many others who are most impacted by crime and policing, whether as victims or perpetrators, who do not volunteer or engage in any such mechanisms. There are as many reasons for this as there are different communities; a mistrust of authority; no culture of engagement or volunteering; legacy issues and negative perceptions. There are Londoners who will never join or attend existing engagement mechanisms even when they share the same concerns as those who do. In addition, to supporting our s14 duties (Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act), engaging with communities, service providers and other stakeholders is an important means to developing better policy and services and for ensuring they are informed by user and community experience. As such, it is important to review current provision and to explore and develop additional ways beyond existing mechanisms to encourage broader police and community engagement to support delivery of the PCP.
3.3. The public access and engagement review detailed in the PCP will address this point, and the outcomes of that review and its impact on existing structures, including SNBs, will be reported in late 2017. The implications of that work on SNBs will be the subject of a further DMPC decision for implementation in 2018/19.
4. Financial Comments
4.1. The SNB Fund has historically been £1m per annum and it proposed that the budget remains at this level for 2017/18 and the DMPC has made a verbal commitment to honouring this. Provision has been made within the 2017/18 MOPAC budget, which includes a draw down from reserves of up to £53,000. Any in-year savings against the budget will be used to mitigate the need to draw down these funds.
4.2. The SNBs are currently funded by MOPAC on the basis of an established formula that aims to reflect the different levels of demand and need (the borough allocations are detailed in Appendix A). Within each SNB's allocation a ring-fenced amount of £5,200 will be provided for administration purposes. The remainder of the funding is provided to support local projects identified by the SNB.
4.3. The total £1m funding pot is available to SNBs, but they are not obliged to bid for the full amount and MOPAC will only award project funding to those who have adequately met the assessment criteria. While funds of this nature would generally be paid quarterly in arrears, given the relatively small amount of funding and that these sums will in some cases be going to voluntary and community sector organisations where maintaining adequate cash flow might be a concern, the funding will be released to SNBs in two tranches of 50% of the total grant in the first and third quarters of the financial year. SNBs will also be required to provide a mid-year return to trigger the second payment and an end of year return to confirm project delivery and budget spend for audit purposes.
5. Legal Comments
5.1. The activities set out in this decision are in accordance with MOPAC’s responsibilities under section 14 of the Police Reform and Social responsibility Act, 2011, to make arrangements for obtaining the views of the community on policing in the area. MOPAC’s general powers are set out in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (the 2011 Act). Section 3(6) of the 2011 Act provides that MOPAC must “secure the maintenance of the metropolitan police service and secure that the metropolitan police service is efficient and effective.” Under Schedule 3, paragraph 7 MOPAC has wide incidental powers to “do anything which is calculated to facilitate, or is conducive or incidental to, the exercise of the functions of the Office.” Paragraph 7(2) (a) provides that this includes entering into contracts and other agreements.
5.2. In addition, section 143 (1) (b) of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 provides an express power for MOPAC, as a local policing body, to provide or commission services “intended by the local policing body to help victims or witnesses of, or other persons affected by, offences and anti-social behaviour.” Section 143(3) specifically allows MOPAC to make grants in connection with such arrangements and any grant may be made subject to any conditions that MOPAC deems appropriate.
The proposals set out in this decision support MOPAC’s duties under and are in accordance with MOPAC's powers under section 9 (3) of the Police Reform and Social responsibility Act, 2011, to make grants and to make any provision within those grant agreements as is deemed appropriate.
6. Equality Comments
6.1. In order to ensure SNBs support the key principle of reducing inequalities, there are two key areas in which they can make a positive impact (i) by addressing the disproprotionate impact of crime on different areas and communities and (ii) by seeking to involve and represent diverse communities in police-community engagement.
6.2. SNBs are funded on the basis of a formula that aims to reflect the different levels of demand and need (the borough allocations are detailed in Appendix A). Differential borough needs have been taken into account through the use of a formula to allocate funds, rather than working on the basis that all boroughs should receive an equal allocation. The formula has been constructed using the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD 2010) combined with population data. The IMD has been developed by the Office for National Statistics and is well-established as a robust formula on which to build programmes and allocate resources to the areas of greatest demand. The indices use statistical techniques to combine information on socio-economic factors, including crime, income deprivation, health deprivation and disability, to produce scores for areas across the whole of England. These are relevant to this exercise because of the correlation between deprivation and reduced levels of civic engagement and increased levels of crime and victimisation. The IMD data is collated and verified centrally and independently of MOPAC and the underlying datasets are updated as and when appropriate to ensure the best information available at the time is used.
6.3. The SNB guidance stipulates that boards should include groups/individuals who are able to represent the views of the diverse communities within their area, e.g. Faith groups, older people and children, as well as democratically elected representation to bring in wider community views. However, some SNBs have struggled to meet this requirement in terms of direct representation, although they may well have supported a range of projects targeting diverse communities. In order to support SNBs in this areas, and given that they have now been in place for three years, this is an opportune time to conduct a membership census so that we can collectively have an improved understanding of the levels of representation both within their membership and through their community projects and match this against the available evidence and inequalities data.
6.4. The involvement of community volunteers in the work of SNBs is an important and central to the provision of community oversight of local policing. MOPAC will continue to provide direct support to SNBs through (i) the allocation of a single point of contact for every SNB, (ii) access to accurate and timely data through the MOPAC dashboards, and (iii) the provision of learning and development opportunities, including forum events, funding surgeries and training seminars.
7. Background/supporting papers
Appendix One - SNB allocations