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Community safety is about recognising the need for all sections of the community, to work together to create a safer environment for people to work, live and travel. This means building partnerships between police, government agencies, local councils, community organizations and individuals to promote community safety.
Crime prevention through environmental design, the development of local solutions to local problems and greater coordination amongst organizations, both public and private, has the potential to prevent crime.
In New South Wales, local initiatives such as Neighbourhood Watch and Safety House are helping
to make communities safer. The Police Force has also forged a strong partnership with car manufacturers, repairers, insurance companies and the Roods and Traffic Authority to help reduce car theft. This shows what can be done by working together to address community concerns.
The Police Force has introduced a range of initiatives to improve community safety. These include the introduction of beat police to help reduce crime and fear on NSW streets, specialised support for victims of crime and a range of community-based policing programs. But we cannot do it alone.
Many crimes are opportunistic. They happen because the environment is conducive to crime or because people think it will be easy to “get away with it”. The challenge is to recognise these problems and do something about it. Urban design con encourage crime through poor lighting, hidden recesses in buildings or deserted open spaces. Inadequate services can also contribute. This could be anything from telephones that don’t work to transport facilities that are poorly located. hen these services can be easily and cost effectively improved once the problems are identified.
Creating safer local environments will help those more vulnerable members of our community feel safer. By working together we can identify problems and demonstrate how small changes can have big benefits.
NSW Community Safety Council
The NSW Community Safety Council will be established to identify opportunities to enhance community safety. It will help develop a co-ordinated approach among government agencies. The council will be chaired by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and will comprise the Chief Executive Officers of leading agencies such as the Police Force and the Departments of
Housing and Planning. Other agencies such as the Chief Secretaries and the Attorney Generals Departments will be represented when specific issues arise.
Community Safety Committees
The Government hopes to establish 30 to 40 Community Safety Committees over the next twelve months and eventually many more. The cooperation and enthusiasm of local government councils is important and will be matched by assistance from local police and the Office of Community Safety.
Office of Community Safety
The Office of Community Safety is part of the Police Force. It supports and assists the NSW Community Safety Council and local community safety committees An important part of its job will be providing guidelines and accreditation to community safety committees and administering grants to local committees.
Community Safety Trust Fund
The Government is establishing a Community Safety Trust Fund. Up to $1 million will be available each financial year for grants to accredited community safety committees to carry out projects and works aimed at making the environment safer. Other sources of funds and grunts will be investigated such as federal funding and more effective use of existing resources. The business community will also be encouraged to participate.
Community Safety Committees will conduct safety audits. These audits are undertaken by a group of people who identify unsafe or frightening aspects of the local environment such as poorly lit parks, places where rubbish and garbage accumulates, or inappropriately timed or located transport services.
Safety audits highlight problem areas and indicate solutions. Many solutions will be straightforward such as changing garbage collection days or improving lighting. Others may be more expensive and require applications for special project grants from the Community Safety Trust Fund.
Specially trained police will assist local government councils by commenting on the safety and crime implications of development applications.
The introduction of community-based policing has helped the Police Force develop a working partnership with local communities. The Force and community groups are striving to address community concerns through initiatives such as Neighbourhood Watch; Safety House; Customer Councils; Volunteers in Policing; Liquor Consultative Committees; and Lay Visitors. While keeping their individual identities, existing community groups will be encouraged to work together under the Community Safety umbrella. The Police Force also have a special responsibility for making our streets and homes safer and will work closely with local committees to help achieve community objectives.
There are government agencies with a special role in community safety and criminal justice. These agencies include the Police Force, Attorney General’s Department, Juvenile Justice and Corrective Services. There are others like the Departments of Transport, Health, Housing and Planning, whose decisions have important implications for community safety. The NSW Government is committed to coordinating its services to build safer communities. It is also sharing information and experiences with other Australian and international governments.
Local councils deliver a range of services to local communities. Services such as street lighting, parks, roads and waste services. Councils are also the focus of local activity and a rallying point for many citizens interested in serving their communities. Like police, councils are often called upon to develop local solutions to local problems. By working together, councils and police can form valuable partnerships. Councils con also seek advice from police on potential opportunities for crime in building and development applications.
In each local community there are organizations and groups with an important contribution to make to community safety. Progress Associations, Chambers of Commerce, Neighbourhood Watch, Safety House and traffic committees are just some of the organizations that can provide vital input into local Community Safety Committees. These can become peak bodies for all local citizens interested in safer streets and homes.
Everyone has a role to play be it School Principals, Station Masters, members of community groups or citizens. Community safety relies on individuals highlighting issues of concern, helping conduct safety audits and developing networks with others. Some people will be more interested in some aspects than others but every member of the community can help make things safer.
For more information contact the Office of Community Safety on 339 5733. For information on Neighbourhood Watch, Safety House and other community- based policing programs contact your local police. It you have any information about criminal activities in your neighbourhood contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, 1800 025122, or (02) 93846467 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org