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Written - Joint Working between the Welsh Assembly Government and the Police

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Brian Gibbons, Minister for Social Justice and Local Government

Summary

This written statement describes the wide range of joint working that is currently taking place between the Welsh Assembly Government and the Police in Wales.

Background

Although non-devolved, the police are vital partners in delivering the Welsh Assembly Government’s safer and stronger communities agendas across Ministerial portfolios. Equally, policy responsibility for many of the factors that can influence levels of criminality are devolved to Welsh Ministers, including housing, health and social services, education and other children’s services, economic and community regeneration, and substance misuse. As such, there is mutual benefit in promoting and maintaining close working relationships between the police and the Welsh Assembly Government.

A range of structures exist through which good working relationships are maintained. The key engagements at Ministerial level are the regular meetings between the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government and the Welsh Association of Chief Police Officers (WACPO), and the Police Authorities of Wales (PAW). These meetings provide the opportunity to discuss a range of issues across the Welsh Assembly Government’s range of devolved responsibilities, and also non-devolved policing issues which may impact on Welsh Assembly Government objectives. In addition, the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government meets annually with the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, and the Police Federation. WACPO have also appeared before Cabinet to discuss opportunities for joint working on two occasions, in November 2006 and March 2008. Following the first of these meetings, it was agreed that WACPO would nominate lead officers to work with each Ministerial portfolio; more details are given below. On a day to day basis the Police Liaison Team are based in the Welsh Assembly Government and seek to ensure that the WACPO view is represented in the development of Assembly Government policy.

Police collaboration

The arrangements for joint working between the police and the Welsh Assembly Government need to be seen in the context of the significant work being taken forward by WACPO to promote collaboration between the four Welsh forces.

Following the decision in 2006 not to enforce mergers of Police Authorities and forces,  work began on preparing a revised plan on how the gap in Level 2 services (which include cross-border issues such as organised criminality, terrorism and major incidents) that were identified in HM Inspector of Constabulary’s report ‘Closing the Gap’ could be filled in Wales.

The Police Services in Wales conducted a Strategic Assessment of Protective Services which was published in September 2006.  From the assessment, a number of areas were identified as key priorities and were included within a document titled “Agenda for Change”.  In March 2007, the Chairs and Chiefs Programme Board in Wales received the “Agenda for Change” document that set out a menu of collaborative opportunities that were available across a range of protective services, local policing functions and business support areas based upon work that had been undertaken by the Wales Central Team and the Strategic Assessment. The Central Team consists of officers from South Wales, Gwent and Dyfed Powys.

Another strategic assessment of protective services was undertaken in September 2007 and consequently, in March 2008 Police Authorities Wales (PAW) approved their first business plan, the National Policing Plan for Wales. Collaboration focuses on three main areas:

  • Protective services (includes Serious, Organised and Cross Border Crime, intelligence & Interoperability, and Counter Terrorism)
  • Strategic Roads Policing
  • Business Support

I was very pleased to be able to attend the formal launch of the National Policing Plan on 18 July, and believe that the publication of this plan marks a significant step forward in promoting greater collaboration within the police forces in Wales. It is clear that the four Welsh forces are leading the way in terms of police collaboration, and are seen as exemplars across England and Wales in this regard. The police forces have also demonstrated themselves to be positive and committed members of Local Service Boards.

Joint working

There are a range of specific examples of joint working within the Social Justice and Local Government Portfolio, and across the Welsh Assembly Government as a whole.

Operation Tarian

The Welsh Assembly Government continues to provide support to Operation Tarian, the Southern Wales police forces collective response to the influx of Class A drugs into Wales. In 2008-09 the Welsh Assembly Government is providing £642,000 from the Substance Misuse Action Fund to support Tarian. The operations Annual Performance Report for 2007-08 highlights notable seizures of Class A drugs, significant numbers of arrests and tangible results in the disruption and dismantling of organised crime groups in the Southern Wales regions. Tarian is also an important aspect of the collaboration agenda, covered by the serious and organised crime aspect of Protective Services.

Wales Contest Board

The Welsh Assembly Government has established a small board to develop policies and exchange information on the emerging issues around the UK Government’s counter terrorism strategy - CONTEST.  The Board is co-chaired by the Assembly Government and the Welsh Association of Chief Police Officers lead for Counter Terrorism, and has representatives from the Welsh Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit (WECTU), the Home Office and the WLGA. This is proving to be a useful vehicle for sharing information and delivering aspects of CONTEST in Wales. Again, WECTU is an important aspect of police collaboration in respect of Protective Services.

All Wales Schools Core Programme

This programme is delivered in partnership between schools and the police to main stream pupils in 97% of primary and secondary schools in Wales. The programme provides pupils with opportunities to improve their knowledge and understanding of the effects of drugs and alcohol, including anti social behaviour and personal safety. The programme has been extended to develop positive relationships with pupils who are at risk of disengagement whilst maintaining the commitment to mainstream pupils. The Assembly Government funds this programme centrally from its Drug and Alcohol budget in partnership with the police and is allocating £1, 640,000 to the core programme and £660,000 to the disengaged element in 2008-09. An external evaluation of the impact of the core programme is being undertaken and the report will be delivered in December 2010. An earlier evaluation of the programme published in December 2007 was very favourable.

Communities First Programme

Community Safety is an important issue under the Communities First Programme and is highlighted as a theme in the Communities First Vision Framework.  Local Communities First Partnerships work with the police on a range of initiatives promoting social behaviour, community cohesion and public order.  In particular, the police have established dedicated police teams in a number of Communities First Areas.  

One examples of joint working is an initiative to tackle community safety issues at the Glanymor and Tyisha Communities First area.  This involved extensive joint working between the local authority and police at a strategic level.  As a result theTyisha  has seen a 15% fall in recorded crime initially with a 10% fall in success years and there  has been significant growth in community based activities and levels of co-operation between residents and police.  Another example is the support north Wales Police have given to the Plas Madoc Community First area in Wrexham. Significant involvement by the Territorial Police Inspector resulted in a Community Beat Manager being placed in Plas Madoc.

Resilience

The Police are major contributors at all levels to the Resilience programme in Wales. Chief Constable Brunstrom sits on the Wales Resilience Forum. Each of the four Chief Constables chair the Local Resilience Forum based on their police force area. Chief Constable Brunstrom also chairs the Joint Emergency Services Group, on which the Welsh Assembly Government is represented, which contributes greatly to the resilience effort in Wales.

Police officers chair the multi agency all-Wales Training and Exercise Group, the Evacuation Group, the Logistical Preparedness Group, the Humanitarian Assistance Group and are very useful, active and enthusiastic members of all the other groups that have been formed to carry out duties under the Civil Contingencies Act (2004).

The police are leading in the bid for funding to create three multi agency strategic coordination centres in North, Mid and South Wales from which strategic coordination groups, usually chaired by Chief Constables, address civil contingencies issues in their area.  

Police Secondees

Forced Marriages:  In February 2007 a secondee from South Wales Police, began taking forward work on tackling forced marriages in Wales.  The work focused on mapping the extent of the problem, producing draft guidance for Education, Health and Social Services and the production of an action plan setting out how the Welsh Assembly Government could approach forced marriages and honour based violence. The action plan is in place and a working group on forced marriages has been established which includes members of the Police Service and the Welsh Assembly Government.

The police provide key representation both on the Forced Marriage and the Domestic Abuse Working Groups.

A Detective Chief Inspector from Dyfed Powys Police works closely with officials on  the Welsh Assembly Government’s Children’s Safeguarding Group.

Social Cohesion:   Following on from briefings in relation to community tensions post the August 2006 planned transatlantic airline attacks, the then minister for Social Justice and Regeneration asked for a Pan Wales approach to community cohesion to be developed.  To support this work, a South Wales Police secondee  worked in partnership with members of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Community Safety Division in scoping the way forward in promoting community cohesion throughout Wales.

Department for Economy and Transport:  There are three police secondees working in the Assembly’s Department for Economy and Transport.

One is engaged in developing a model based on a division of core roles and responsibilities between the Assembly Government and the police service on how strategic road policing will look on the Welsh road network.  He is also working on a plan to assist with the welfare of road users in event of a major incident.

A funding officer seconded from North Wales. Police is helping to develop a new form a “social contract” with business in Wales to encourage them to develop responsible business practices.  He is also helping with a project to deliver community service by young people this involves developing a range of support from the uniformed services in Wales including the Prince’s Trust.

A third  police secondee is the e crime Wales Police Team Manager in the Assembly’s Department for Economy and Transport.

Substance Misuse Strategy:  a North Wales Police secondee provided a valuable input on all aspects of the Strategy but particularly in relation to tackling availability.  The Strategy was launched on 1 October 2008.


The Police Liaison Team based at the Welsh Assembly Government: The  Liaison Team consists of three police officers  seconded to the Welsh Assembly Government..  They provide co-ordinated comprehensive responses from the Welsh Association of Chief Police Officers to the large number of consultations undertaken by the Welsh Assembly Government.  The Liaison Team has contributed to the development of the Welsh Assembly Government legislative programme with WACPO providing written and oral evidence to committees.

Health

WACPO and the Police Liaison Team have been fully involved with the Assembly Government in the consultation and development of the Codes of Practice for the Mental Health Act 2006.  WACPO and the Liaison Team have worked closely on a number of initiatives such as the work around preventing violence and aggression in the health care; preventing self harm and suicide amongst young in Wales and reducing the possibility of police officers being contaminated by blood borne viruses.

Making the Connections

WACPO and the Police Liaison Officers work closely with the Assembly Government’s Making the Connections team on cross cutting projects such as  the funding of the Emergency Control Project and the Welsh Interpretation and Translation Service

Assembly Members Police Scheme
 
Fifteen Assembly Members have now been involved in the Assembly Police Scheme which allows them to see policing from the 'inside'.  Assembly Members are also able to attend presentations from specialist services about  Emergency/Contingency Planning and the Role of the Crown Prosecution Service in Wales, these are arranged to 'fit' in with Assembly business.

The Permanent Secretary has expressed a keen interest in the Scheme and has requested that the Police Liaison Office to develop it into a tailor made programme for senior civil servants.

Chief Constables’ Portfolio

Following the first appearance of the four Chief Constables at Cabinet in November 2006, it was agreed that each Chief Constable should take the lead on particular workstreams, matching Welsh Assembly Government Ministerial portfolios.  Each Chief Constable takes the opportunity to meet with their respective Minister to ensure open and free dialogue. Under these main headings the Chief Constables and/or other Chief Officers lead on particular work-streams e.g. Roads Policing, Public Protection, Planning, Animal Welfare and E-Crime.  The current Chief Constables area of responsibilities are:

Chief Constable Gianassi
Designated Lead to Social Justice Local Government
Education, Children and Young People

Chief Constable Wilding Chair of WACPO
Health and Social Services
Finance and Public Services

Chief Constable Brunstrom
Economy and Transport
Environment, Sustainability and Housing
Roads Policing
E-Crime
Heritage and Welsh Language

Chief Constable Arundale
Rural Affairs


Finally, the Welsh Assembly Government was very pleased to note that the collaborative work of the Welsh Police Authorities has been recognised;   The Police Authority for Wales received the Association of Police Authorities  (APA) Recognising Excellence Award for “Collaboration or Partnership Working” at this year's APA Conference, this is the first time these awards have been given.