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Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002

Community Safety

Section 71: Community safety strategy

142.This section puts a duty on the Secretary of State to publish a community safety strategy for Northern Ireland. “Community safety” is defined in subsection (2). This includes not only the reduction of crime, but also the reduction of anti-social behaviour and the addressing of other factors that affect people’s perceptions of safety. Measures to enhance community safety could, for example, include approaches which seek to address the development of criminality among young people, reduce criminal opportunities and act upon the social conditions that sustain crime.

143.The strategy published by the Secretary of State will identify what the Government sees as the key priorities for community safety in Northern Ireland. It will set out how it believes those issues can best be addressed and the means for delivery (which will include the bodies created under section 72 below). The strategy will also include details of the financial and other resources to be provided by the Secretary of State.

Section 72: Local community safety partnerships

144.This section gives the Secretary of State the power to set up local community safety partnerships. This power would only be exercised after discussion with the First and Deputy First Ministers on the best way forward. The membership of the community safety partnerships will be drawn from organisations exercising statutory functions (subsection (3)). These partnerships will identify local problems and the appropriate solutions, and will work in association with voluntary groups and others in the local community. The membership could include district councils, Health and Social Services Boards and Trusts, Education and Library Boards, the Probation Board, the police and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, all of whom have statutory functions which have a bearing on community safety. These organisations are not specified in the Act, since it would be premature to do so as many of them are likely to be affected by the review of public administration launched by the Executive.

145.The functions of the local community safety partnerships are set out in subsection (4). One of those is to prepare and publish local plans for enhancing community safety which should take into account both the result of the local research and the Secretary of State’s strategy (as published under section 71). The local plans will not be identical to the Secretary of State’s strategy because they will reflect local concerns, but they must fit in with the Secretary of State’s strategy.

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