For Oral Answer on : 16/02/2023
Question Number(s): 70 Question Reference(s): 7680/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Justice the way that the proposed community safety partnerships will operate; when he expects these partnerships will be established nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My Department’s community safety policy is about people being safe and feeling safe in their own community. This approach goes far beyond the traditional policing response and requires all relevant state bodies and voluntary organisations to work together in a joined-up way, in partnership with the local community, to prioritise and address issues in their own area.
The Commission on the Future of Policing Ireland (CoFPI) recognised that much of the work of Gardaí on a daily basis, similar to other police services, is concerned with the non-crime related activity of preventing harm to people with addiction or mental health conditions, those who are homeless, the elderly, children and others at risk or deemed vulnerable.
The Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill will place statutory obligations on Departments and other public service bodies to cooperate with each other to improve community safety. It also establishes national structures to provide strategic direction and ensure that collaboration is working, and establishes Local Community Safety Partnerships (LCSPs), which will replace existing Joint Policing Committees.
There are currently three pilot LCSPs in Dublin’s North Inner City, Waterford, and Longford.
The partnerships are made up of:
- Community representatives, including residents, youth representatives, members of new and minority communities, local activists, local businesses, and representatives of schools;
- Public sector representatives, i.e., local statutory services such as the HSE, Tusla, An Garda Síochána, and the local authority; and
- Local councillors.
Each partnership will create their own local community safety plan, setting out the key actions to address safety concerns in their community and assigning ownership for these actions. The first such plan has been produced by the Longford LCSP pilot and is available on the Longford County Council website.
The pilot LCSPs are undergoing an ongoing independent evaluation to ensure that, when established nationally, the LCSPs will be designed and supported to help communities prioritise issues raised by its members as safety concerns. A mid-term evaluation, covering the first 12 months of the pilots, is due to be submitted to my Department shortly.
The intention is that the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill will become law later this year and be fully commenced in January 2024, with the national roll-out of the community safety partnerships to follow early in 2024.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Community Safety Innovation Fund was established in April 2021 by Minister McEntee and the Minister for Public Expenditure to allow proceeds of crime to be directed into community projects to support community safety. The fund was allocated €2 million under Budget 2022.
In 2022, the first year of the Fund, there were 124 applications from community projects across Ireland. 22 community projects were successful and received grants ranging from €5,000 to €150,000, with projects including once-off initiatives, and longer programmes of up to 24 months duration. Each of the three pilot LCSPs were successful in obtaining funding for key projects identified in the development of their community safety plans.
The Fund for 2023 will see the outlay increased to €3 million, as provided for under Budget 2023.