REASSURANCE ON OUR CITY STREETS; New Officers Will Help Tackle Yob Culture
Byline: Abby Alford
ANTI-SOCIAL behaviour and crimes that blight communities will be tackled by six new neighbourhood management officers.
They have been tasked with helping the police and Cardiff council crack down on everything from doorstep crime to dog fouling in the capital.
The men and women will identify issues affecting residents and liaise with partnership organisations that include the fire service, health board and the Assembly Government's Communities First programme to solve the problem and improve their quality of life.
The pilot scheme is funded by the council and run under the banner of the Home Office-backed Safer Capital community safety partnership. The officers have been told to walk the streets of their communities alongside PCSOs, and have been given free bus passes by Cardiff Bus so they can provide visible reassurance to passengers.
But they have no powers to compel the public to comply with the law.
The man responsible for policing in Cardiff, Chief Superintendent Josh Jones, who also jointly chairs Safer Capital, said: "Crime in South Wales is at a 20-year low and crime in Cardiff is reducing at a significantly faster rate than the national average.
"However, we recognise that people don't always feel safe. Neighbourhood management is there to address this."
Councillor Judith Woodman, joint chairman of Safer Capital, said public service providers have been trying to serve communities without fully taking into account what they want. "Neighbourhood management has enabled organisations to reconsider the way they work, not only with each other but also with the communities they serve," she said.
But the scheme has attracted criticism from a politician, the Police Federation and the TaxPayers' Alliance who claim it is replicating the job already done by elected councillors, paid council enforcement officers, PCSOs and the police.
"My initial thought is that it sounds like a shocking waste of money," Conservative Cardiff North AM Jonathan Morgan told the Echo. "It is vital for local authorities to start behaving responsibly with public money."
Cardiff council has implemented a pounds 14m savings plan as public finances are squeezed. It plans to cut 300 jobs, reduce the opening hours of some leisure centres and implement a major shake-up of the city's waste and street cleaning teams.
The six neighbourhood management officers will earn pounds 19,126 to pounds 23,708 a year.
Wayne Baker, secretary of the Police Federation branch in South Wales, said they could help save police time by dealing with complaints about dog fouling and fly-tipping that are raised at Pact meetings.
He said police officers see their presence as "positive".
But he added their use as a visible presence on the streets was part of a "Government ploy to try to cover the cracks in the woodwork by having people from disparate organisations trying to cover issues that should be dealt with by the police".
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It's important to ensure that as we already have the police and PCSOs this is not just another layer of ineffective bureaucracy.
"Budgets across all departments are likely to face a squeeze so it's more important than ever that money is spent on front-line policing. …