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Working Paper 133: Evaluation of the Cardiff Night‐Time Economy Co‐ordinator (NTEC) Post

Adam Edwards

This evaluation of the role of Night-Time Economy Co-ordinator (NTEC) for Cardiff was a requirement of funding for the NTEC post, which Cardiff Community Safety Partnership (subsequently, ‘Safer Capital’) received from the Home Office Tackling Violent Crime Programme (HOTVCP). This post was funded out of this programme in recognition of the particular problems of alcohol-related violence against the person and public disorder that have accompanied the rapid expansion of the night-time economy in Cardiff and the pressures this has placed on public health and safety in the City. The regulatory deficit created by this expansion, given the limited police resources available for controlling the consumption of alcohol, provided the initial rationale for the NTEC post. The post and the evaluation commenced in December 2007, the period of funding for the NTEC post from the HOTVCP ran until March 2009. This evaluation covers activities undertaken by the post-holder in seeking to address the regulatory deficit during this period.

The evaluation had an action-research element built into it, insofar as the evaluator was invited to participate in the steering group for work undertaken by the NTEC and to help define the core objectives of this post for the duration of its funding from the HOTVCP. Four objectives were agreed amongst the steering group, which also included representatives of the regional Home Office who had commissioned both the NTEC post and its evaluation. They were:

  1. Creation of a unified measurement of performance and enforcement arm for the regulation of the night-time economy (NTE);
  2. Engage local authority service areas with an identifiable role in preventing or reducing violence in the NTE;
  3. Establish a late-night transport system that is easily accessible and clearly sign-posted for clientele; and
  4. Enhance the surveillance capacity for reducing violence in the NTE.

The conjecture underpinning these four objectives was that the regulatory deficit confronting Safer Capital could be reduced in a relatively short period of time by improving intelligence and surveillance on the concentration of violence and disorder in particular places (‘hot-spots’) and times (‘hot-times’) and by targeting measures to reduce the situational opportunities for such behaviour in these places and at these times by tasking all those agencies thought to have a role in situational crime reduction.

It was agreed that the principal focus of the evaluation would be on the process of defining such objectives and assessing the progress of the NTEC in putting them into action; specifically, the possibilities for, and barriers to, co-ordinating the multiplicity of agencies whom the steering group believed could make a contribution to the reduction of violence and disorder in Cardiff’s NTE. As such, the focus of this evaluation has not been on the outcomes of multi-agency interventions on patterns of alcohol-related violence and disorder, although some inferences about this are included in Section 6 (and Appendices three, four and five).

Relative to the ambition of the core objectives defined for the role, the NTEC post-holder achieved significant progress, managing to persuade officers in Cardiff Council’s City Centre Management department of the indispensability of the post for a city whose night-life has expanded so rapidly around alcohol-based leisure and entertainment and with all the attendant problems for public health and safety. The ambition to address some of the key deficits of regulation encountered by conventional law enforcement approaches to reducing alcohol-related violence and disorder, by enrolling such local authority service areas as waste management, licensing and transport and highways, was imaginative but encountered significant resistance reflecting generic problems of the ‘partnership approach’ to the reduction of crime and disorder. As such, there are generic lessons from the Cardiff experience for the definition, powers and responsibilities of the NTEC post in other night-time economies.

The findings and recommendations from this evaluation suggest there is real value in investing in the NTEC post as a means of overcoming the challenge of ‘silo mentalities’ in the public administration of complex problems like alcohol-related crime and disorder. In brief, this entails granting the NTEC post the necessary powers for co-ordinating responsible authorities in community safety partnerships to undertake specific operations aimed at the short-term remediation of problems of violence and disorder and for planning reductions in these problems in the medium-to-long-term. To fulfil this potential it is recommended that the post be mainstreamed and located within the City Centre Management department in keeping with the City’s nationally commended programme of neighbourhood management.

It remains for me to thank other members of the steering group for the NTEC post and to all the respondents who generously gave their time to participate in the evaluation.

Adam Edwards,

Cardiff University School of Social Sciences          

September 2010

Working Paper 133: Evaluation of the Cardiff Night‐Time Economy Co‐ordinator (NTEC) Post, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, September(2010), ISBN 978-1-904815-97-6