What is section 17?
The Crime & Disorder Act 1998 provided the framework for the establishment of statutory Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs). It gave the lead responsibility for crime and disorder reduction to the police and local authorities, as well as a duty to consider crime and disorder in all their activities. This duty is what is referred to as ‘Section 17’. In 2004 the Fire Service and PCT also became responsible authorities with the addition of Probation Trusts in April 2010. All of the responsible authorities are members of the Winchester Community Safety Partnership along with representatives from other local public and voluntary organisations.
In 1998 the explanation of the Section 17 duty originally stated:
‘Without prejudice to any other obligation imposed on it, it shall be the duty of each authority to which this section applies to exercise its various functions on, and the need to do all it reasonably can to prevent, crime and disorder in its area.’
The definition of Section 17 was amended by the Police and Justice Act 2006 and states that:
‘Without prejudice to any other obligation imposed on it, it shall be the duty of each authority to which this section applies to exercise its various functions with due regard to the likely effect of the exercise of those functions on, and the need to do all it reasonably can prevent,
a) Crime and disorder in its area (including anti social behaviour and other behaviour adversely affecting the local environment) and,
b) The misuse of drugs, alcohol and other substances in its area.’
What does this mean?
According to Home Office guidance Section 17 of the Crime & Disorder Act 1998 means that each local authority should take account of the community safety dimension in all its work, and to do all that it can within its core business to prevent crime and disorder. All policies, strategies, plans and budgets will need to be considered from the standpoint of their potential contribution to the reduction of crime and disorder.
I don’t deal with crime & disorder, how does it affect me?
You might not feel that your work is linked to crime and disorder or community safety and in some cases this might be true. Nevertheless, because of the statutory duty imposed by Section 17 all local authority Members and staff are required to consider the impact of crime and disorder whether direct or indirect in all of their day to day work.
Therefore it is the legal responsibility of every individual, every service area and every Councillor who acts in a decision-making capacity (such as on the Chief Executive, Director, and committees) to consider crime and disorder and to undertake reasonable action to improve community safety in our district.
What can I do?
Each year the CSP is required to produce a Strategic Assessment report about crime and disorder issues in the Winchester District. The results of the Strategic Assessment are used by the Partnership to identify themed priorities for the coming year. Annually the Partnership produces an Action Plan and Project Plans which describes how we will deliver on the identified priorities. Copies of all of these documents are available on the Partnership website: www.wdsp.co.uk/communitysafety . You may find it useful to consider whether you are already helping the us to deliver on our priorities or how you could become involved.
Who should I speak to about this?
Should you wish to discuss any issue relating to section 17 or any aspect of crime and disorder, please contact the Community Safety Team or the Head of Community Safety, Sandra Tuddenham, by email: email@example.com or by telephone: 01962 848 132. Alternatively please refer to related downloads which provide further guidance on section 17.