New Leaders to Make Gwent Safer

6th October 2016

Established by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Gwent last year, the Safer Gwent group works with key community safety partners across the five local authority areas and provides an organised and joined-up approach to achieve better outcomes in tackling issues such as anti-social behaviour (ASB), preventing reoffending and supporting victims.

Kate Williams, the Equalities, Cohesion and Community Safety Manager for Torfaen Council has been appointed as the new Chair of Safer Gwent and Chief Superintendent Emma Ackland, the Head of Neighbourhood Policing and Partnerships for Gwent Police, has been appointed as the Vice Chair for the next two years.

Safer Gwent meets bi-monthly and aims to work with member partners to collectively address regional safety issues that impact on local communities. Membership has grown considerably since its inception and the group is now made up of representatives from 30 community partners including local authorities, the local health board, registered social landlords, voluntary sector, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, youth offending services and the probation and rehabilitation services.

Through its agreed strategic priorities and by using existing funding opportunities, Safer Gwent also supports the commissioning of community safety services and to date has awarded over half a million pounds (£560,981) towards a range of projects including funding for Substance Misuse and Victim Worker posts for the three Youth Offending Services in Gwent; the provision of a regional Independent Domestic Violence Advisor for Gwent and money to continue the work of the Positive Futures sports inclusion programme throughout the region- part of which aims to prevent and divert young people away from crime and anti-social behaviour.

Whilst it coordinates joint initiatives and activities throughout the region, the group has not replaced the statutory Community Safety Partnerships that exist and operate through each of the five local authority's Local Service Boards.

The newly appointed Chair of Safer Gwent, Kate Williams, joined the group in October 2015 and has more than 10 years' experience of working within the community safety arena.

"I am really excited to have the opportunity to play a leading role in driving forward the work of this progressive group," said Kate.

"We have established working groups around specific areas of focus such as supporting victims of crime and they are really starting to take shape. After seeing the impact that we have already had, more and more partners want to be involved with us because they can see the benefit and the positive knock on effect we are having. Many of the partners were previously working on their own areas and researching their own areas which meant that services were not coordinated. We have been looking at ensuring that people have access to the same service and treatment throughout the region. Safer Gwent is not led by anyone - it's a full partnership approach and it's an approach which keeps on improving in each meeting."

The new Vice Chair of Safer Gwent, Chief Superintendent Emma Ackland, said: "Safer Gwent enables us to pick up on inconsistencies in processes, develop best practice as a partnership and ultimately improve the service we provide to the public.

We have recently addressed our approach across the region for dealing with ASB. This involved all partners sharing what they considered to be best practice. Workshops were held to develop a consistent end to end approach that now enables everyone involved to be clear about the whole process, the part they specifically play and most importantly we have focused our attention on our effectiveness in being able to assist, support and resolve the issue for the victim whether that be through support, intervention, problem solving or investigation. We have, together, developed a consistent approach across the region. This epitomises the strength of getting the right people around the table in order to improve our service to the public."

Welcoming the new appointments, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert, said: "I would like to congratulate Kate and Emma on their appointments as Chair and Vice Chair of what is such an important group for Gwent. The police force cannot provide for the security and well-being of communities and citizens by itself. Strong collaborative working with other key partners through groups such as Safer Gwent, along with putting the needs of the individual at the heart of all we do will ensure the best possible quality of life for our citizens; particularly those who are most vulnerable. Naturally, if through good, joined-up working with key partners we can reduce levels of crime, then we will have fewer victims."

For further information about Safer Gwent please visit the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner website