Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 17

Memorandum submitted by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions

BACKGROUND

  1.  This memorandum describes the work of existing Neighbourhood and Street Wardens Programmes (NSWP) run by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) and the Home Office, and considers the links to the Police Reform Bill.

  2.  The Social Exclusion Unit's 1998 Report recommended that further work be undertaken on the concept of neighbourhood wardens so a Policy Action Team (6) on neighbourhood wardens was established. Following work led by the Home Office on Policy Action Team 6, the NSWP was set up with funding from the Home Office and DTLR. The NSWP is now part of the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit's (NRU) work within DLTR.

WARDEN PROGRAMMES

  3.  The NSWP which is advised and supported by a National Stakeholders' Group, has a budget of £43.5 million from 2001 to 2003-04 to fund 85 Neighbourhood Warden schemes in England and Wales with 450 wardens, and 123 Street Warden schemes in England with 700 wardens. Warden schemes are mainly run by local authority or housing associations and are closely monitored by the Government's Regional Offices. There are four main types of Neighbourhood Warden scheme:

    I.  patroller,

    II.  concierge,

    III.  caretaker and

    IV.  neighbourhood support worker.

  4.  Neighbourhood Warden scheme objectives range from reducing fear of crime and crime prevention to environmental improvement, community development and housing management. All warden schemes are required to reflect the needs, history and culture of their area and carry out community consultation. Neighbourhood Warden schemes do not have enforcement powers reflecting Policy Action Team (6) guidelines.

  5.  The primary aim of the Street Warden programme is to improve the local environment, particularly in relation to litter, graffiti and anti-social behaviour as well as promoting community safety, this is part of the Government's liveability agenda. These schemes are just starting up with government funding providing essential pump priming at 50 per cent of the total cost. Street Wardens operate in towns and cities as well as neighbourhoods and place more emphasis on environmental improvements and the promotion of community safety and cohesion. Some Local Authority led Street Warden schemes may invest their wardens with existing Local Authority enforcement powers to impose fines for litter and dog fouling. So far only a very small number have chosen to use this option for litter and dog fouling enforcement powers.

  6.  Both warden programmes operate on a partnership basis involving the local community, local authority, the police and other stakeholders including registered social landlords in the local schemes. The NSWP is currently collecting evidence of what works best within all warden schemes, the results of this will be implemented into the exiting programmes.

RECRUITMENT AND TRAINING

  7.  Many schemes recruit wardens from the local area, their knowledge helps in building a relationship with the community. NSWP, in conjunction with the Home Office Crime Reduction College, have developed a detailed training programme that provides a minimum of 4 weeks training for wardens, supervisors and managers. A recognised NVQ (level 2) qualification is expected to be in place later this year (development is at an advanced stage, field trials have been held) to reinforce the idea that warden jobs are valued and genuine careers. The NVQ could be made available to the proposed Community Support Officers.

EVALUATION

  8.  Warden schemes are encouraged to undertake their own monitoring and evaluation and participate in external evaluation. Government Offices monitor schemes twice a year. Self-reported successes are recorded and disseminated every six months. Independent evaluation to assess warden impact and cost benefits for both the Neighbourhood and Street Warden programmes has been commissioned and will provide six monthly reports beginning this year.

SUCCESSES

  9.  Feedback from Neighbourhood Warden schemes has been very encouraging and includes:

    I.  Wardens in Sheffield have negotiated and implemented a fast track response to their abandoned vehicle problem, reducing removal time from 30 days to less than 10 days.

    II.  Hull has seen the introduction of "sharps bins" installed by wardens resulting in a reduction from 250 needles, often drug related, per month on the streets to 30. Prompt abandoned car removal has seen incidents of car fires reduced from 15 last year to 2 so far this year.

    III.  In Darlington, where wardens began patrolling in May 2000, the number of burglaries in the town has dropped by 17 per cent. In the areas where the wardens patrol, crime has dropped by as much as 40 per cent.

    IV.  Walsall wardens have, in their first 6 weeks, generated action on 39 "street care" requirements (tree pruning, grass cutting, public conveniences, litter bins etc) and tackled 44 cases of anti-social behaviour.

    V.  In the Caernarfon warden scheme, police calls to instances of anti-social behaviour are down by 54 per cent and police calls generally by 57 per cent on the Maes Barcer Estate.

COMMENTS ON THE POLICE REFORM BILL

  10.  The Bill proposes different tiers of police support such as Community Support Officers (CSO) and Accredited Support Officers. These roles, particularly the latter, appear to be complementary with both Neighbourhood and Street Warden ethos and we welcome the idea of adding to the reassurance and deterrence work already being done by wardens, many of whom work with local people on local community neighbourhood issues.

  11.  The functions proposed in Schedules 4 and 5 for the additional tiers of policing reinforce evidence from our independent evaluation report, which places fear of crime as the highest priority for warden schemes, followed by environmental/streetscene improvements and tackling anti-social behaviour. The level of community consultation required of newly accredited schemes is not clear, though those based on the current Neighbourhood or Street warden model will have consulted the community.

ACCREDITATION

  12.  Neighbourhood and Street Warden programmes already work very closely with the police and accreditation appears to be the area where warden schemes would most comfortably sit within the provisions of the Bill.

  13.  Relationships between warden schemes and the police have, in the main, been positive. Police endorsement of local warden schemes is an essential for NSWP grant aid and the police have been very supportive of the wardens' objectives. The police are key local stakeholders and members of local warden steering groups and have made a significant input to warden training. All Government funded schemes have proceeded with police endorsement.

  14.  Nationally, police were involved in PAT6 and are represented on the NSWP National Stakeholders' group that advises the NSWP. Two police services have seconded chief inspectors to the NSWP and police trainers are heavily involved in the induction training of wardens.

  15.  Accreditation, could therefore be a formalisation of the good practice that currently exists but would extend to cover warden schemes funded through any source providing quality assurance for all schemes within the extended police family.

  16.  We are reassured that accreditation is not compulsory and that accredited schemes need not take on all or any of the enforcement powers outlined in Schedule 5. However it is possible that some existing schemes would request the powers available under accreditation to extend their effectiveness in areas where enforcement is requested and seen as appropriate.

  17.  This Bill therefore, provides a real opportunity for wardens, police and the new community support officers to work together in order to reduce crime, fear of crime and disorder, and to improve the environment.

Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions

February 2002



 
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