Council cuts funding for joint police early help initiative

Derren Hayes
Friday, July 13, 2018

A joint police and council early help initiative that supports children, young people and families at risk of getting involved in crime looks set to be scaled back due to funding cuts.

 Lancashire Council has agreed to re-run part of the procurement process for 0-19 public health services
Lancashire Council has agreed to re-run part of the procurement process for 0-19 public health services

Last week, Lancashire County Council backed proposals to cut £265,000 a year from its early action and safer travel teams despite a public consultation showing that 91 per cent of residents were against the cuts.

The services were established in 2014 as part of a £6m investment in early intervention from the council and Lancashire Constabulary. The funding created 27 full-time posts, bringing together social workers, child and parenting support, youth workers, mental health workers and police.

However, the Conservative-controlled council approved the withdrawal of its share of funding for 15 police community support officers (PCSO), whose role is to intervene early with young people and families to prevent low-level crime escalating, and a further two charged with improving safety on the bus network.

The decision is likely to result in eight PCSO posts being scrapped.

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The early action and safer travel teams tackle antisocial behaviour, knife crime, gang affiliation, substance misuse, racism and crime linked to the school bus network. The teams also undertake document checks on taxi drivers providing home-to-school transport.

John Fillis, deputy Labour leader on Lancashire Council, said: "It's clear by what people have said in their response that these PCSOs do a fantastic job, supporting local people and not only reducing crime but the fear of crime. Their direct work with communities, especially young people, is all part of reducing the fear of crime and instilling in young people a sense of community and pride."

However, Lancashire County Council's lead member for community and cultural services, Peter Buckley, said the council is "continuing to face an unprecedented financial challenge, increasing costs and a rising demand for our services".

"This means that difficult decisions have to be made over what we fund, including the part-funding of a small number of PCSO posts," he added.

"The council will continue to work strategically with partners to reduce crime and disorder in the county."

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