Partnership in Cumbria
How did this initiative start?
In 2008 tensions about funding and confusion about responsibilities led to a project, jointly funded by Cumbria County Council and Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association (CNWA), to create a sustainable model for Neighbourhood Watch in the county.
Who are the partners?
As a result the one year project established a model which identified a joint responsibility on the Constabulary, the County Council, Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and the County and District Community Safety Partnerships, to oversee the maintenance and development of Neighbourhood Watch.
Neighbourhood Watch was also defined for Cumbria as inclusive of wider Watch schemes such as Farmwatch and Hotelwatch which are critical to the delivery of community safety in the county.
What is the role of Neighbourhood Watch in the partnership?
The role of the county Neighbourhood Watch Association (CNWA) was separately identified as ‘the voice of members’ acting as their representatives and as provider of services and facilities for them.
What does the partnership do?
The project established a partnership ‘Joint Management Group’ with all the above organisations as participants. Since then the Police & Crime Commissioner has also become a partner.
The group work together to support Neighbourhood Watch.
The police also have a critical role in working with members at grassroots level and facilitating wider schemes such as Farmwatch.
What are the advantages of this model?
The advantage of the model is that it is both inclusive, involving all important partners in community safety, but also clearly defines organisations’ roles. A published ‘Joint Statement of Intent’ (Constabulary CCC, CFRS and CNWA), Business Plan and Service Level Agreement support the model.
As an example, when a replacement was needed for the previous police-run messaging system, the partnership group took responsibility. As a result, Cumbria Community Messaging is run by CNWA for all partners to use. It is jointly funded and used as a ‘public service’ – not just for Neighbourhood Watch members. Other organisations can contribute and send messages. This has enabled working with the Environment Agency – particularly useful in the weather and flooding emergencies which have hit Cumbia.
This has broadened and made more relevant the appeal of Neighbourhood Watch. All organisations have sent out messages about this environmental threat to community safety. The public in turn have responded, sending helpful information back to those managing the response to the floods.
What are your plans for the future?
The model has served Cumbria well to date. The challenge for the future is to maintain this way of working in the face of financial pressures, particularly on local authorities as they re-trench into a focus on statutory and core responsibilities.