New local crime panels designed to give Londoners a greater voice in policing risk being undermined by confusion about their purpose and responsibilities, a new London Assembly report has warned.
The Safer Neighbourhood Boards are being set up by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to replace existing Community and Police Engagement Groups.
Like their predecessors, the new Boards are intended to ensure Londoners have a say in how their communities are policed.
But Assembly Members have expressed concern at “a lack of clarity on the form and functions of Boards” and the expectations of volunteers who serve on them.
AMs have also questioned whether the level of resources available will be sufficient for the Boards to fulfil their responsibilities, including playing a role in community payback, hearing complaints from victims of crime and monitoring community confidence in policing.
The Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee has called for MOPAC to provide clearer guidance, setting out what SNB’s will be expected to do, how they are expected to do it and how their performance will be monitored.
It also wants greater clarity about how the Boards will be representative of their communities and how they’ll funded.
Committee Chair Joanne McCartney AM said: “There is a good case for improving police-community engagement but in scrapping Community and Police Engagement Groups the Mayor and MOPAC must ensure that their replacement can and will deliver a better service to their communities.
“Throughout its investigation the Committee heard of confusion and uncertainty that is jeopardising the good will of the very people who are most likely to help make new Safer Neighbourhood Boards a success. That good will is too precious to lose. MOPAC has already had more than a year to progress the establishment of the Safer Neighbourhood Boards, it is high time they got a grip on the process and start putting flesh on the bones of the Mayor’s commitment.”
Responding to the committee’s concerns, a Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime spokesperson said: “MOPAC is fully committed to rolling out Safer Neighbourhood Boards (SN Boards) across London from next year and have provided the broad parameters within which we expect them to be developed. We are continuing to work on proposals and will provide further guidance to partners in due course.
‘SN Boards will help to ensure that communities have a stronger voice and are more closely involved in problem solving and crime prevention, so that resources can be allocated more effectively to tackle issues of local concern.”