Use police skills in the public sector
In the last decade, the government has introduced lots of legislation which has increased the investigative and enforcement powers of local and central government, regulators and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as housing associations.
There is a growing requirement – and a high level of demand in some specialist areas – from these types of employers for policing skill sets.
- Enforcement roles in local authorities
- Community Safety Partnerships (also known as Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships)
- Working for regulatory bodies
- Housing association roles
- Fraud in the public sector
Local authorities are required to enforce the Cleaner Neighbourhoods Act and, more broadly, the Environment Act. This manifests itself on the ground as a range of enforcement activities to tackle 'enviro' crimes such as graffiti, dog fouling and fly tipping. In addition, there are noise pollution enforcement obligations on local authorities and housing associations.
Licensing enforcement and enforcing the 'smoke-free' obligations of licensed premises is another set of opportunities that are ideal for former and retired police officers. The skills that all these roles require are generic in nature, from proficient conflict resolution skills to sound investigative and case management experience.
Some more technical roles, which are also focused on the enforcement of rules and regulations, are also the responsibility of the local authorities, for example, environmental health roles and planning enforcement jobs. Environmental health enforcement focuses on enforcement of food and hygiene standards or health and safety standards in the community. Whereas the ‘foot print’ of the role is similar to policing insomuch as you are tasked with enforcement of a rule book, investigating breaches of this rule book and gathering evidence to prosecute, you will need to additional training in the particular specialist areas:
- The recognised health and safety qualifications are the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which provides you with the perfect basis to progress onto the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH). Both qualifications offer many study routes and different paces of learning.
- The environmental health qualification required is a BSc degree in Environmental Health. Again, there are many options for completing a degree full- or part-time.
What is Community Safety?
General definitions provided by the Home Office identify community safety as an aspect of the quality of life in which individuals and communities are protected from, equipped to cope with, and have increased capacity to resist crime and anti-social behaviour.
The central idea is that crime and disorder is not simply a matter for the criminal justice system. There are many agencies that can contribute to crime reduction and helping people feel safer.
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires that local authorities, police forces, police authorities, probation committees and health authorities not only work together, but also work with the community and the voluntary sector to develop and implement strategies for reducing crime and disorder in their area.
In order to comply with the Act, Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) or Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) have been set up at a district level. They include the following bodies:
- Crime reduction partners
- Local authorities
- Housing associations – Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and Arms Length Management Associations (ALMOs)
- Police service
- Probation service
- Youth offending teams
- Local authorities
- Fire and rescue services
- Other non-statutory groups include voluntary groups, youth services, schools, transport companies, commercial businesses
Crime and Disorder Act 1998 - Section 17
This section of the Act places a statutory duty on agencies to tackle crime and disorder as part of their core or 'mainstream' work. In addition, local authorities, joint authorities, police, health and fire authorities are required to consider the impact of their services in reducing crime and disorder.
The Act states, "Without prejudice to any other obligation imposed upon it, it shall be the duty of each local authority to exercise its various functions with due regard to the likely effect of the exercise of those functions on, and the need to do all that it reasonably can to prevent, crime and disorder in its area."
Each authority's response will be subject to external audit and failure to comply could result in judicial review. The same legislation also provides new powers, which can be used by members of the public and other agencies to take legal action against individual service areas or authorities as a whole for failure to comply with their duties or responsibilities.
Crime audits and strategies for reducing crime
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 sets out a legal requirement for the local authority, Police, Health Authority and Probation Service to form a statutory partnership in every borough. The Act requires each partnership to conduct an audit of crime, disorder and drugs every three years.
This is reviewed yearly and performance is assessed and managed. The findings of the Audit and Consultation will provide the foundation for the new Community Safety Strategy.
This strategy covers a three year programme for tackling some of the problems associated with crime and disorder in the borough. However, the Home Office also requires CDRPs to assess strategy each year and review it every six months to ensure targets are being met.
New strategies are also informed by public perception of crime, and local and national priorities to identify targets for crime reduction. As a result, posts, funding and strategies are then channeled towards meeting targets. CDRPs that meet and exceed targets can gain access to extra funding and awards.
Here is a breakdown of the authorities, organisations and agencies that make up CSPs and CDRPs.
Role and function
Contribution to partnership working
Relationship to CDRP
Benefits gained from partnership working
Prevent and detect crime
Tackle the fear of crime
Work in close partnership with the community
Use latest technology
Information and intelligence
Enforcement Resources (both staffing and financial)
Experience of ‘what works’
Policing plan in line with CDRP strategy
Involvement at strategic and operational levels
Sharing of responsibility for victims
Holistic responses to long-term problems
Challenges and ensures accountability
Sets police budgets
Appoints senior police managers
Sets local policing priorities
Monitors police performance
Publishes annual policing plan
Aims to provide best value
Manages and facilitates strategic changes
Coordinates Force policies and protocols
Can provide resources
Develops local community initiatives
Allows for ‘joining up’ of partner strategies
Involvement of delivery of aims at local level
Gains better understanding of local crime problems and offers context to how policing can best be delivered
Delivers services to meet the needs of local communities
Education leisure and recreation
Environment and planning
Vast range of resources and expertise
Close links to neighbourhoods through service
Delivery and elected members
Ability to deliver
Responses across departments
Provision of data
Work of CDRP embedded within
planning and delivery of services
Strategic and long
Additional information on problems in local communities
Sharing of resources
Opportunity to work with partners to
Deliver full packages of responses
Perspective in local policy making
Ensure local fire service is efficiently and effectively managed
Promote fire safety
Provides fire and rescue services
Sets budget for fire service
Determines strategic direction
Appoints Chief Fire Officer
Monitors work of fire and rescue service
Manages and facilitates strategic change
Use of equipment and personnel in interests of community
Statutory partner (Police Reform Act 2002)
Provides opportunity to join with other agencies in local initiatives
Raising awareness of non-accidental fires
Sharing of information contributes to levels of intervention and preventative initiatives
Forging of strategic and joint initiatives
Probation (National Offender)
Assists courts in sentencing decisions
Provider of supervision and rehabilitation of offenders
Works with adult offenders
National Offender coordination
Management service merges
Probation and prison services
Management of key offenders in local community
Expertise on causes of offending
Programmes to tackle offending behaviour
Working in partnership setting targeting persistent and prolific offenders
Aims of CDRP and probation service are similar in that both aim to reduce offending by targeting the most persistent and prolific of offenders
Partners to support the delivery of reparation programmes
Joining up of strategies relating to victims and offenders
Access to funding to diversify or develop local programmes
Our main client groups
- Local authorities including county councils, boroughs and unitary authorities
- Housing associations – Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and Arms Length Management Associations (ALMOs)
- Fire services
- Charities and voluntary groups
- Schools, colleges and academies
- Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
What community safety skills can former and retired police provide?
A lot of skills can be transferred to various roles in community safety. Usually, the essential skills include:
- Knowledge of basic Crime and Disorder Act (section 17 in particular).
- Experience of working in a multi-agency setting, knowing who has what info, how to get it and why.
- Excellent communicators both verbally (presenting to the public and partners) and written (reports, promotional material).
- For ASB, experience of conducting investigations, gathering evidence, conflict resolution skills, helping vulnerable witnesses and victim support, attending court and in some cases housing law.
- Most community safety work is funding-focused.
- Policy and project management work is important, for example policy writing experience and skills in auditing, reporting and targeting specific crimes.
- Similar to commercial businesses. Those who have a proven track record of handling caseloads, hitting targets to reduce crime and securing funding are very sought after.
In addition to these main roles, we are often asked to provide similar skills for slightly different roles. For example, a vehicle crime reduction officer will essentially be a community safety officer with a specific focus on vehicle crime.
Anti-social behaviour officer/caseworker/investigator
Investigates all cases of anti-social behaviour (ASB), responding to complaints and talking to victims, perpetrators and witnesses. Solves disputes using diplomacy, or if necessary, legal remedies including anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs), injunctions or evictions. Records and uses information on all cases to identify trends, persistent offenders and for audit purposes. Designs and promotes projects to proactively reduce crime and nuisance behaviour and gives evidence in court acting as a professional witness.
Community safety officer/coordinator
Works on ensuring the CDRP is working towards its priority targets based on strategy and is in line with county and regional priorities. Acts as the focal point for partner agencies looking for information or liaison. Makes sure any changes in local or national policy are implemented. Identifies and applies for funding streams. Produces reports and audits information (and any other policy) related to community safety and crime.
Hate crime/domestic violence caseworker/officer
Acts as CDRP or council lead on all crimes against people based on prejudice including colour, gender, religion, sexual preference and disability. If domestic violence, it's usually a female worker. Hate crimes often have multi-lingual aspect. Usually a mixture of investigations and promoting tolerance. Heavy focus on witness and victim support, especially for domestic violence.
Intelligence/ crime analyst
Collects and maintains all crime information in an area. Uses information to map crimes, areas and offenders, allowing team to target particular issues. Responsible for using statistics to produce a range of reports for partners, the public and government. Manages and develops systems and IT to enable effective capture, use and sharing of sensitive information.
Employed by councils, housing, BIDS and other bodies, acts as a visible first line of defence against low-level crime. Similar to security, responsible for an area or patch. Patrols with other wardens to deter and report crime and provide help to the police. No powers in most cases. Sometimes able to issue fixed penalties for littering, graffiti and take down names and addresses. The thinking is to work closely with the community, to listen to their needs and act as a link between the community and police. Takes part on promoting community safety through initiatives, school days and community events.
Monitors cameras in estates, city centre areas and public open spaces. Use images to capture crimes and provide evidence for prosecution. Operators MUST have an SIA license and that allows them to operate a camera and use images sensitively.
Partnership liaison officer/investigations support officer
Provides expert admin support to teams. Makes sure information is processed and stored correctly, and prepares case files to be used in court. Often first point of contact for all members of the public or partners wanting information on the community safety team. Acts as the link between partners, both locally, regionally and nationally. Makes sure the right info gets to the right people at the right time.
Community safety manager
Manages team and ensures audits and strategies are carried out properly. Usually responsible for writing policy and strategy and working at a very senior level with police and other partners. Represents CDRP nationally at meetings and regionally.
Regulators are arms-length government agencies set up to regulate particular parts of commercial markets, professions or specific parts of society. UK regulators therefore offer lots of roles from investigators to intelligence roles which are suitable for former and retiring police officers.
In fact, the footprint of their remit is very similar to the responsibilities of UK policing – a regulator actively polices its area of responsibility, which can include:
- Enforcing a rule book of regulations
- Investigating breaches of this rule book
- Gathering evidence of any breach
- Analysing the extent of breaches
- Managing intelligence
- Advising on sanctions and punishments
There were lots of changes to social housing throughout the 20th century, leading to the The Housing Act 1964 which created housing corporations. The Housing Act 1980 introduced the 'right to buy' which led to many of the better quality council properties being purchased by sitting tenants, adding to a decline in the availability of council housing.
The Housing and Planning Act 1986 gave councils the option to transfer all, or part, of their housing stock to another landlord, such as a Registered Social Landlord (RSL). This was welcomed and the number of RSL-owned properties increased during the 90s due to rules being introduced that were very housing association-friendly, such as channeling the money to build new homes directly to them.
This, combined with cost-cutting initiatives in local government and a housing benefit scheme that was more generous to housing associations than local authorities has led to many councils transferring their property to Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) and other RSLs.
RSLs are social housing landlords that are registered with the Housing Corporation. Most are housing associations, but there are also trusts, co-operatives and companies. RSLs are the main providers of new social housing. There are over 1,800 RSLs in England, currently managing around 1.7 million homes and housing at least twice as many people.
ALMOs are UK not-for-profit companies set up by local authorities primarily to manage and improve all or part of their housing stock. Ownership of the housing stock itself normally stays with the local authority. As at July 2008, 70 ALMOs were managing over half of all UK council housing, comprising of more than a million properties. Also in 2008, ALMOs were able to bid for funds from the programme for the first time, creating an even more competitive mix of affordable housing providers.
Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)
On 17 January 2007, the government announced proposals to bring together the investment functions of the Housing Corporation, English Partnerships and parts of the Department for Communities and Local Government to form a new unified housing and regeneration agency.
In the following months they held the most comprehensive review of English housing regulation for 30 years and recommended that a new regulator be set up, separating the regulation and investment responsibilities of the Housing Corporation. That October, the government announced that they would transfer the Corporation's regulatory powers to an independent body, subsequently named as the Tenant Services Authority (TSA).
Sir Bob Kerslake, ex-Chief Exec of Sheffield Council, was appointed Chief Executive – both the HCA and the TSA went became operational on 1 December 2008.
The Tenant Services Authority (TSA)
The Tenant Services Authority (TSA) is the operating name of the Office for Tenants and Social Landlords, the new regulator of housing associations, providers of social housing in the United Kingdom. It has taken over the regulatory work of the Housing Corporation, inspecting housing providers and responding to concerns from tenants, leading eventually to the inspection of all social housing providers.
The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, which established the TSA, limits the extent to which government can direct it. From April 2010 the regulator will also take on responsibility for local authority housing departments and management organisations as well as housing associations.
Anti-social behaviour and housing – key events
- The Housing Act 1996 introduced Introductory Tenancies.
- The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 brought in anti-social behaviour orders.
- The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 required landlords to publish policies and procedures on ASB, and brought in changes to injunctions to widen the range of people who can be protected from perpetrators of ASB.
- The Act also allowed all social landlords to extend the initial 12 month Introductory Tenancy period by a further 6 months.
- The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 added Closure Orders for premises associated with persistent disorder or nuisance.
Housing associations' legal powers
- Demotion order
- Possession action
How effective are these measures?
In 2005-06, 79% of housing associations made use of at least one of these powers. Here are some facts and learnings:
- Possession actions remain the most widely exercised counter-ASB power (two thirds of associations made ASB evictions in 2005-06), with injunctions being used by just over half of housing associations
- Associations using injunctions typically find them both quick and effective
- ASBOs tend to be used only where injunctions cannot – in cases of misconduct by young people or other non tenants
- ASB evictions in general needs housing account for 7% of all general needs evictions; for the supported housing the equivalent figure is 40%
- Whilst overall housing association evictions fell by 6% in 2005-06, ASB evictions rose by 10%
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts – landlords' alternatives
Landlords have also introduced their own initiatives. For example, Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) – a code of behaviour that the perpetrator agrees to abide by – are increasingly being used by landlords. Many find these more useful (and less expensive) than ASBOs.
The ABC is a written, voluntary agreement between a person who has been involved in anti-social behaviour and one or more local agencies whose role it is to prevent such behaviour. A report by the National Audit Office found ABCs to be highly effective, particularly when agencies provided support to improve the recipient’s chances of meeting the conditions. This type of early intervention is therefore effective, as well as being low cost, particularly when used as part of a tiered approach.
ABCs have been used to address a wide range of anti-social behaviour including harassment of residents or passers-by, verbal abuse, criminal damage, vandalism, noise nuisance, graffiti, threatening behaviour, racial abuse, smoking or drinking alcohol while under age, substance misuse, joy riding, begging, prostitution and kerb-crawling.
What’s the difference between an ASBO and an ASBI?
An ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) is a civil order designed to protect the public from behaviour that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. An order contains conditions prohibiting the offender from carrying out specific anti-social acts or from entering defined areas, and is effective for a minimum of two years. ASBOs are not criminal sanctions and are not meant to punish the offender. Local authorities and police can issue ASBOs against any individual over 10 years old. Breaching the order carries a five year prison sentence and a fine of up to £5,000.
ASBIs (anti-social behaviour injunctions) are also civil orders and are similar to ASBOs, but are used in the context of social housing and are obtained in the county court. An injunction prohibits the person concerned from engaging in the behaviour detailed in the injunction. Injunctions can be used to prevent a range of anti-social behaviour relating to housing and the wider neighbourhood, for example; using a property for drug dealing, playing loud music at night, barking dogs, verbal abuse and vandalism.
There are opportunities for police skill sets in the following roles:
- ASB officer
- Neighbourhood warden
- Domestic violence support worker
- Community safety officer
- Housing manager
- Housing officer
- Estate manager
- Hate crimes prevention officers
- Architectural liaison
- Housing solicitors
- ASB solicitors
- Surveillance teams
- Professional witnesses
The public sector offers two broad opportunities for former and retired police officers to pursue fraud investigation roles. These are benefit fraud investigation roles and corporate fraud roles.
- Benefit fraud officers investigate breaches of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. In simple terms, these are offensives of over-claiming or mis-claiming different forms of benefit.
- Corporate fraud investigation roles focus on internal theft and fraud committed by employees of public sector employers or suppliers.
Both roles require the public sector fraud investigation qualification Professionalism in Security (PinS). This qualification takes a fortnight to attain and, beyond the specific knowledge of benefits and local authority workings, former or retired police officers will most likely be fully conversant in the investigation methods and processes. There is also a specific qualification for investigating fraud within the NHS, which is the local counter fraud (LCFS) qualification.