Thursday, 27 October 2011

Crime and the council

You might imagine that the council's Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committee would be the ideal place to raise concerns about anti-social behaviour and policing the town centre - especially when it's making the local front pages.
But the committee has a very narrow remit - to scrutinise the work of the Community Safety Partnership and the particular issue was not discussed.
The meat of the business was the Flintshire and Wrecsam Community Safety Partnership's plan to measure success between now and 2014. Many crime stats in Wrecsam are significantly worse than in Flintshire, yet there was no explanation as to why that is. Both areas have similar social and economic profiles, so why is Wrecsam worse in terms of burglaries, assaults and substance misuse? Why do we have more young offenders re-offending than Flintshire?
These are the questions you'd expect councillors to raise at such a meeting but when you're presented with a 43-page report on the night it's impossible to do more than skim read the contents. Not so much a scrutiny committee as a rubberstamp before the report goes to Exec Board then.

One explanation for higher re-offending rates among youngsters offered by a representative of the CSP was the high number of private care homes in Wrecsam. These take youngsters with behavioural and other problems from authorities all over the UK, often at extortionate rates of thousands of pounds per week. The bonus for the other councils is that it gets problem kids off their streets - for us it's the opposite.
Although other councils are meant to inform the host county when this happens, many "slip under the radar". So when the kids abscond or commit crime locally, we clear up the mess.
It's time authorities and private care homes were forced to report what they're up to and it's time we asked why Wrecsam has a disproportionate number of such homes.

At least we will be allowed to scrutinise that properly in the future.


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

Wrecsam's Youth Justice Management Board are looking at charging authorities that place children with private homes in the county for the Youth Justice Services. One third of young people on the book of the YJS in Wrecsam are from out of county.
Surprised Cllr Mike Edwards, Chair of C&D Scrutiny didn't say that cos he also sits on the YJMB and should know what's going on. The presenting of a long report on the night is totally out of order, I will just have to cause mayhem with it at Exec Board then.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

The Police are a partner in the Community Safety marks for guessing who the Chair was last night then!!

Plaid Whitegate said...

Too many committees, boards and partnerships - not enough being done to address the real problems. Too many people also failing to share information.
Most cllrs on this scrutiny cmttee feel out of the loop when it comes to Crime and Disorder. Am not surprised public confidence is low.