Monday 23 October 2017

New six-year plan to reduce crime figures

By Esther HayDen

A new six year strategic plan has been drafted for the Joint Policing Committee (JPC).

Ger Mackey of Wexford County Council said that 'each JPC must make a strategic work plan which links with other appropriate plans and strategics. In this regard each JPC must put in place a six year plan linked to the relative objectives in the Local Economic and Community Plan and an annual work plan. This would link to the Local Economic and Community Plan and also include relevant objectives from the Garda Annual Policing Plan in each local authority.'

He said that 'JPC plans should be confined to a limited number of strategic objectives to facilitate appropriate monitoring and review. Work plans must prioritise objectives and highlight at least three strategic priorities.'

Mr Mackey said that the six year plan for Wexford had three high priority objectives: Crime Prevention and Community Safety, Reduction in Anti Social Behaviour and Misuse of Alcohol, Drugs and Related Crime.

Each of these high priority objectives has four sub themes he said.

In terms of crime prevention and community safety the sub themes are: rural crime, community gardai, support for crime victims including those affected by domestic violence and community resilience. He also spoke of ways in which these issues would be addressed. The main course of action is the development of a community text alert throughout the county, public awareness meetings, multi agency partnerships, planning and responses and building community resilience.

The key partners and agencies involved will be the Public Participation Network, local communities, text alert and the gardai. He said the JPC would be able to see how effectively the six year plan was being put in place through looking at the number of community text alert schemes in place and the reduction in crime.

When it comes to the reduction in anti-social behaviour Mr Mackey said that the sub themes here are: estate management, youth engagement and participation, community engagement, restorative justice projects and youth diversion.

Here the main courses of action will be the establishment of Local Policing For a in areas of concern, design of safe community space and liasing with stakeholders such as the Vintners Association, managers of late night entertainment venues and late night food outlets, taxi drivers and the security industry. The key partners will be the gardai, relevant local agencies and local communities. He said that the JPC would be able to determine how the programme was working through the reduction in anti-social behaviour in designated areas.

The final high priority objective, misuse of alcohol, drugs and related crime will focus on community and agency supports and education programmes. This will involve putting in place a comprehensive county wide consumption and misuse of alcohol byelaws and a community education programme. The key partners will be the council itself and the local gardai.

Mr Mackey said that the best way the JPC will see the effectiveness of the plan will be through monitoring the reduction in alcohol and drugs and related crime.

Cllr George Lawlor noted that the key partners in the misuse of drugs and alcohol didn't include agencies such as the Vintners Association and said he presumed that they will be involved. He also raised his concerns that the ways to tackle anti-social behaviour didn't seem to extend to private estates.

'A lot of problems occur in private estates where absentee landlords are happy to get a cheque in the post.' He suggested that agency such as the Private Residential Tenancies Board should be contacted to examine their role.

Mr Mackey said the actions are all cross cutting and he expects to work closely with the Public Participation Network.

Deputy John Browne also raised concerns about private landlords saying they were more than happy to be paid by the council for the lease of the house for ten years but after that 'didn't care what happens'. He also spoke of the length of time it takes for any action to be implemented in anti-social behaviour cases.

'What baffles me is the length of time it takes to deal with anti social behaviour. We are very slow to get action in that particular area. How can we speed up the process?'

Senator Jim Walsh said he felt the actions included in the plan needed to be more specific. 'I think it's a little aspiration. I think we should have measurable objectives. In the area of rural crime for example it might be useful to have an analysis of the most common rural crimes.'

Again he was also unhappy with the way in which anti-social behaviour is dealt with feeling 'that neither the council or the private sector deal with it satisfactorily'. Engagement with schools to help deal with drug issues would also be very effective he felt.

Chairman of the JPC Cllr Michael Whelan said that the plan was not exhaustive and could be added to. Mr Mackey said 'it is a living document' and took on board Senator Walsh's comments about measurable actions. He said that with the help of the sub committees which would be established in each area the council could work on that.

Cllr Fergie Kehoe suggested that the text alert schemes could be beefed up with the addition of social media.

Wexford People

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