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The community safety service provided by Bury MBC is good, but has uncertain prospects for improvement, according t...
The community safety service provided by Bury MBC is good, but has uncertain prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

Inspectors gave the service two stars because the council plays an active role in the Community Safety Partnership (CSP), and some types of crime, most notably household burglaries and vehicle crime, have decreased over recent years - although performance is below the national average.

Brian Stevenson, commissioning inspector, said: 'There have been some good initiatives to help tackle crime in Bury, and councillors and officers are committed to delivering improvements. The council now needs to concentrate on developing clear and measurable targets which reflect key community concerns about crime and safety related issues. The aim must be to match the standards of the best performing councils.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

- Security and emergency services and CCTV (closed circuit television) provide effective 'second-tier' policing within the borough, supporting the council's overall aim to reduce crime and make the community safer.

- Community safety wardens maintain a high profile and although it is difficult to measure their impact on community safety, they have a positive impact on environmental issues and on the overall appearance of the borough.

- Co-ordination between the Drugs Action Team (DAT), the Drugs Reference Group (DRG) and the Community Drugs and Alcohol Service (CDAS) is effective. The Youth Offending Team (YOT) has good working relationships with the police and area board co-ordinators to identify priority areas and share information.

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

- Although some types of crime in the borough have decreased, others including violent crime have increased in recent years. Performance is generally better than the Greater Manchester average, but the level of crime is still above the national average.

- There are no systems in place to monitor the impact of community safety initiatives on crime and the fear of crime.

- The council is currently unable to effectively co-ordinate the diverse range of community safety initiatives across the borough. However, this situation should improve following the recent appointment of an additional manager.

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

- Identify 'community safety champions' to include both senior officers and elected members who will be responsible for promoting community safety.

- Look at the way the council works with its partners to avoid unnecessary duplication, and maximise the efficient use of resources.

- Proactively market the activities of the community safety partnership to raise awareness among local people and promote a consistent and positive image of the borough. This should also help to reduce the fear of crime.

The community safety service includes:

- Community safety team - oversees and co-ordinates community safety activity.

- Youth offending team - a partnership of various organisations to prevent offending by children and young people.

- Community safety wardens - provide a visible presence within the six town centres to deter anti-social behaviour.

- Security and emergency services and CCTV (closed circuit TV) - runs an emergency communications centre to respond to incidents and enquiries.

The service employs 56 staff.

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