Building Bridges, Safer Communities: Citizens’ Panel report on community safety and policing

Today marks the outcome of an unprecedented exercise in participatory democracy, as the UK’s first ever citizens’ panel on policing and community safety launches its strategic recommendations.

A diverse assembly of Liverpool residents convened under the ‘Building Bridges, Safer Communities’ project led by national charity Revolving Doors aimed at bridging the gap between policing and the communities they serve. 

Drawing on a months-long deliberative process, participants developed a comprehensive answer to the question “How can we prevent crime and improve community safety for everyone and particularly marginalised groups in Liverpool?” 

Reconvening today, panel members will launch the recommendations to key local decision makers in the city, including the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Police Constable and local MPs.  

Proposing transformative approaches to fostering public safety, they emphasise a popular desire for prevention, community engagement and investment in services. 

Key recommendations include: 

1. Greater investment in youth and social services and mental health resources to tackle the underlying causes of crime. 

2. Struggling families to be given additional support and connected to strengthened public services. 

3. Release of funds to tackle inequality, empower communities and promote active citizenship. 

“These prevention-first recommendations are not just reflective of Liverpool’s aspirations for a safer community but also serve as a proactive blueprint for change which should be considered nationally,” commented Pavan Dhaliwal, CEO of Revolving Doors. “The panel’s recommendations are very clear: they want root causes to offending addressed, families and young people supported and also the local community coming together to celebrate the diversity of the city.” 

The Citizens’ Panel, facilitated by experts Shared Future CIC, ensured a wide array of community voices were heard and incorporated into the final recommendations. Jez Hall from Shared Future noted, “This panel should mark a significant step forward in how communities can directly influence policies on safety and policing in the UK.” 

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy from Merseyside Police said:  

“Understanding the views of our diverse communities, particularly around public safety and prevention is vital to us, so we welcome the work of the Citizens’ Panel in Liverpool.

“Policing has always had a vital role to play in preventing crime and harm, and as the National Lead for Prevention, it is something that I wholly stand behind. By intervening early and thinking about problem solving we can prevent issues from escalating, improve life chances and support communities in the future, which will make a huge difference to all across Merseyside.

“We are already doing significant work which mirrors some of the panel’s recommendations focused on prevention and early engagement. Through the dedication of various policing teams across Merseyside Police, inclusive of Local Policing and the Prevention Strand, and initiatives such as Evolve Liverpool (tackling organised crime and building stronger communities), Project Medusa (tackling County Lines drug supply) and Project Adder (effective enhanced treatment and recovery from drugs), we are identifying, disrupting, and bringing offenders to justice, whilst supporting and safeguarding those most at risk of harm and exploitation.

“This is supported by our Violence Reduction Partnership, to stop vulnerable young people getting drawn into a life of crime. Our ongoing Participatory Budget events, led by Local Policing and partners, also provide Liverpool residents with a direct say in where vital funding goes, to address inequality and create stronger communities. We operate as a partnership in Liverpool, and this is where our strength lies.

“To build on the legacy of this Citizens’ Panel, I would encourage all Liverpool residents to get involved in an ongoing two-way dialogue with us, so we can better understand their needs and shape our approach to community safety. Our regular Perception Surveys, carried out by an independent organisation, capture the views of residents right across Merseyside. The feedback from the Citizen’s panel will add to the understanding of Merseyside Police on what matters to our communities and their views and priorities. The public can also get involved with the Liverpool Community Advisory Group and Community Safety Partnership.”

Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, commented:

Listening to the voices of people across Merseyside is at the heart of my work. It is critical to good decision making, so I welcome the input and views of the Citizens Panel on such a wide range of issues.

“It is reassuring that significant work is already underway of many of the recommendations made by the Panel and I look forward to attending the event to update them on the progress we are making in the areas they have identified. This includes critical work to engage with young people and intervene early to build more positive futures through our really effective Violence Reduction Partnership, tackling Violence against Women and Girls and providing greater support for victims of crime through our Victim Care Merseyside service.

“Through my scrutiny programme, I also review the police’s progress in these key areas, and I am always keen to involve the public in this process. I already do this through my Scrutiny Meetings which are live-streamed, incorporate public questions and are attended by independent community members. This report provides additional insight and I will consider it closely as part of this ongoing programme of work.”

Jo Richmond, Director of Safer City and Communities for LCC, said:  

“Liverpool City Council (LCC) welcomes the launch of the Building Bridges, Safer Communities Report as a valuable piece of insight into community engagement and empowerment. 

This aims of this report aligns closely with the Council’s objectives of safe, thriving, empowered and compassionate communities for all and we will share its recommendations with all the key partners at the Citysafe Board.”