There is a need for formal engagement between State government agencies that steer NSW crime prevention, and community safety policy initiatives and local government, argues this article.
In many jurisdictions around the world, community safety and crime prevention activity is supported by interagency committees. In the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), local government Community Safety Officers (CSOs) lead, support or participate in a range of interagency and ‘whole of government’ networks, most of which were established to support central NSW state government crime prevention and community safety initiatives. Research was conducted with the aim of exploring the CSOs’ experience of the ‘whole of government’ partnerships established to support community safety and crime prevention in NSW. The findings support international research which suggests that central-local partnerships are inhibited by different agendas, responsibilities and power dynamics across different levels of government. Some of the key contextual challenges for this work include concerns about costs shifting from State to local government and about shifting State government priorities; barriers to funding and to accessing crime (and other) data; and various administrative burdens. Consequently, we argued that there is a need for formal engagement and negotiation between, on the one hand, State government agencies that steer NSW crime prevention and, on the other, community safety policy initiatives and local government. Such engagement could help overcome the perception, indeed the reality, that shifting and dumping costs and responsibilities to local government is creating a range of burdens for CSOs.