Home secretary asked to approve new Norfolk crime partnership

Home secretary Theresa May has been asked to approve a shake-up in the way that councils work with the police and other bodies to tackle crime and community safety.

Currently there are eight so-called community safety partnerships representing each district council area and one for the whole of Norfolk.

Each works to help co-ordinate ways to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour.

But under plans being put forward these will be streamlined into one single body for the whole of Norfolk.

The new partnership would be expected to work closely with other public bodies, particularly the police, NHS Norfolk, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, and the Probation Service.

Its creation also anticipates the setting up of new elected police commissioners, which are expected to be introduced next May.

Mrs May is expected to approve the bid for a single county partnership by June.

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But yesterday members of the council's community services overview and scrutiny panel, raised concerns that the differing needs of districts in Norfolk could be lost.

Brian Hannah, Lib Dem councillor for Sheringham, said: 'This is an issue which is very important in local communities. My worry now that we are disbanding the district community safety partnerships is that the districts may lose a certain amount of their voice.'

However the meeting heard that the districts were in agreement about switching to the new set up, while local needs and concerns could still be addressed through the work of safer neighbourhood partnerships.

The new all-Norfolk partnership would meet four times a year, while its work would be scrutinised once a year by a county council sub-committee, with officials from other bodies invited to take part, although some councillors felt that this should be done at least twice a year.

Harry Humphrey, cabinet member for community safety, said after the meeting that, if approved, the new arrangement could help streamline how priorities are determined.

He said one of the goals of the partnership would be to try and develop an integrated offender management programme, which would try and support those released from jail and help them avoid falling into the trap of early reoffending.

Local issues could also be considered by council led local strategic partnerships, he added.

'The various partnerships throughout the county were doing different things,' he said. 'Now they will be largely working within their own local strategic partnerships within the districts where they will still have some sort of control.

'It brings together all the county bodies and the people involved should have a good idea of where money can be found to fund the things we want to do.'

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