The Borough of Copeland lies within the County of Cumbria, in the North West of England. Geographically it is part of the affluent Lake District National Park and within the borough includes England’s tallest mountain – Scafell Pike [1].

The rest of the Borough lies on a coastal strip of the Irish Sea. The main coastal town is the harbour town of Whitehaven that contains pockets of deprivation and unemployment. From the last available data collected in 2016, 12% of children in Cumbria were living in low-income families. 13% of households experienced fuel poverty in 2018.

Copeland Borough Council is one of 6 district authorities that is located within Cumbria, it is a two-tier authority alongside Cumbria County Council. Copeland and neighbouring Allerdale form Cumbria Constabulary’s West Territorial Policing Area.

From the 1st April 2023, Cumbria will become two unitary authorities. One in the West, incorporating the boroughs of Copeland, Allerdale and Carlisle and one in the East incorporating the other three districts.

Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour

Historically, Copeland has had a particular problem trying to control anti-social behaviour on the streets, particularly relating to the consumption of drugs and alcohol.

Copeland has been piloting a multi-agency hub approach to address issues around crime and anti-social behaviour. This successful approach has been based on an existing strong working relationship and high-level support and commitment between Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria Police [1].

The multi-agency approach is in place in order to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area and to make Cumbria’s coast more attractive to visitors.

The key partners of the Hub are Copeland Borough Council who employs the Hub manager and Cumbria Constabulary which provides an officer who is Hub coordinator.

The Hub is based in Whitehaven police station, and the initial set-up costs were funded by the Office of the Cumbria Police and the Crime Commissioner.

Other partners include:

  • Local housing providers
  • District Council teams such as Environmental Health
  • Housing and Licensing departments
  • Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service
  • NHS Organisations

Additionally, voluntary sector partners include Age UK, mental health groups, and drug and alcohol services.

Social media is used by the Hub to raise awareness of issues within the community. All partners are engaged with social media so that a large range of community members is reached.

Pooling Knowledge

The collaborative efforts are enforced when a partner refers an incident into the Hub. Relevant partners pool knowledge together to support the recovery from the incident and to identify previously unrecognised problems in the community.

This way, patterns can be identified, and responses can be quick and efficient to provide effective early intervention. Incidents are treated seriously when behaviour impacts local businesses and the quality of life for residents.

An 18-month intervention saw the crackdown of alcohol and drug use in Whitehaven Town Centre. During the operation, the neighbourhood policing team gathered 111 pieces of actionable intelligence which led to 35 arrests for various offences.

They conducted 53 stop searches, issued 17 warrants, and seized 16 vehicles. 11 Civil Injunctions were issued by the courts following applications by the housing providers.

As a result of these interventions, the number of anti-social behaviour incidents in Whitehaven Town Centre was reduced to virtually zero.

All available tools were used including housing injunctions and evictions, public protection orders banning street drinking, police patrol activity, criminal behaviour orders and leaflets delivered to local households.

Having a central Hub is effective in terms of sharing information and focusing the strengths of different agencies on particular issues. This ensures that interventions are holistic, effective, targeted, and appropriate.

Interventions

The Hub doesn’t only work to tackle anti-social behaviour and regenerate the area. They also focus on projects that work to revamp the community landscape. Examples of community intervention projects led by the Hub include:

‘Talk and Tidy’: Engaging with local youth clubs and community groups to maintain the landscape of the community. The staff from the partner agencies go out collectively to tidy up an area, collect rubbish, revamp the area, and talk to the community to encourage further upkeep.

All equipment for the event is provided for volunteers including litter pickers, gloves, and rubbish bags. The scheme aims to tidy up the local areas and give the community an opportunity to speak to agencies and socialise.

‘Future Pathways’: A nine-session programme which develops employability and life skills in secondary school pupils. This encourages young people to become more aware of their options with the hope that they will feel inspired to not add to the existing anti-social behaviour problem.

Factors for Success

Louise Coid is the Copeland Local Focus Hub Manager at Copeland Borough Council [2]. They shared some tips on how to successfully develop and run a multi-agency community response hub:

  • There must be good underlying partner agency relationships.
  • The formation of local district hubs should not be primarily led by the police. They should be equal in their distribution of ideas and authority.
  • Each partner should be capable of being a ‘critical friend’ in the Hub.
  • Formal, structured co-ordination should be facilitated by the Hub.
  • Agreement of common SMART objectives which are kept under constant review.
  • An acknowledgement that early recognition and intervention is paramount.

Additionally, the Copeland Hub utilise data-informed approaches to identify target areas and focus community safety initiatives.

Partner data is discussed and presented at monthly meetings and used alongside intelligence to set monthly targets, priority locations and community issues. ‘Streetsafe surveys’ are conducted by police and partners to gain an insight into what needs doing in the community.

Lessons Learned

Louise confirmed that before attempting to implement a Hub system, there must be pre-existing, strong and open relationships between partners in the community. When successful, a Hub approach allows for informal sharing of information, which creates opportunities to make connections that otherwise may not be identified.

[1] The Copeland Multi-Agency Hub

[2] Louise Coid, Copeland Local Focus Hub Manager, Copeland Borough Council 

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Copeland, a coastal town in Cumbria has reaped the rewards of a multi-agency approach to community regeneration. This article discusses the multi-agency work in Copeland to tackle anti-social behaviour and to make the town a better place to visit.

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