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Police cuts warning

13 July 2010

Professor Martin InnesProfessor Martin Innes

Cutting community safety programmes and police numbers during the recession could have a disproportionate impact on the long-term economic and social well-being of communities across Wales, a University policing expert has warned.

Director of the Universities’ Police Science Institute (UPSI), Professor Martin Innes told a briefing of AMs that the combined effect of the recession and possible police cuts could challenge the economic resilience of neighbourhoods and corrode levels of community cohesion.

"A great deal of good, positive and productive work by community groups, community safety partnerships and Police forces across Wales, means there has been considerable progress in cutting acts of anti-social behaviour," Professor Innes said. "However, research by the Universities Police Science Institute (UPSI) confirms that anti-social behaviour involving young people remains the biggest fear for people living in communities across South Wales.

"If anything, work to tackle anti-social behaviour has been given extra urgency by the recession. Our research shows that a failure to tackle anti-social behaviour can have potentially long-term serious impacts upon the long-term economic and social well-being of communities. Such behaviour can cause fear that leads to people retreating from public spaces or to look to move away completely from an area.

"These kinds of consequences damage the economic resilience of neighbourhoods and corrode levels of community cohesion. Such impacts are likely to become more common in the current climate where the stress on communities is already mounting."

Professor Innes is one of the UK’s leading policing experts. He has been commissioned by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to work alongside Ipsos MORI to develop a new framework to help police forces respond more effectively to acts of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB).

The review will seek to integrate the best research on victims and ideas and how the police can develop a framework to operationalise the knowledge they collect on ASB.

Professor Innes added: "It is clear there will be considerable central government pressure to cut public spending on community safety and policing services.

"Whilst some of this is inevitable perhaps even desirable - care must be taken not to cut too deeply in a way that inhibits the capacity to deal effectively with ASB problems in our communities.

"The work we have been conducting shows how by collecting community intelligence from the public about their key ASB issues and priorities in neighbourhoods, and targeting resources to these problems at a local level, police and community safety partnerships can perform highly impactive interventions in a cost effective manner that respond directly to public needs.

"In so doing, they can significantly reduce the short and long-term harm that ASB does to community confidence" he added.

Professor Innes’ briefing was part of a monthly series of briefings open to all AMs and their staff. The briefings are hosted by the Assembly Member for Cardiff Central, Jenny Randerson.

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