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The Cheshire police force has increased its annual budget for the Safer Communities Fund to £100,000 in 2018, almost doubling the funding for the previous financial year. The extra £40,000 has been redirected from the commissioning budget by the crime commissioner to be used to support a variety of local projects focusing on preventing crime and supporting community safety. The first £25,000 round of the fund was announced on 8th May 2018 by David Keane, where organisations had until the 31st May 2018 to submit their applications. Each individual group was able to apply for a maximum of £5,000, with no minimum bid.

Founder of SAFE, a helpline aimed at providing support for the families of those who have been involved in terrorism, Fiyaz Mughal OBE has also been involved in establishing numerous social enterprises and community projects revolving around the focus of social cohesion and tackling extremism. Details of the work of SAFE can be found in the PDF attachment to this post.

The Cheshire Safer Communities Fund

The Safer Communities Fund in Cheshire was launched as an encouragement to members of the local community to become actively involved in creating safer communities, allowing them to bid for funding to support schemes designed to promote safety and crime prevention. The funding for the current financial year has been divided into four equal pots, with applicants able to submit bids for each £25,000 pot in May 2018, July 2018, October 2018 and January 2019.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate that their project focuses on local needs within Cheshire and that it actively supports reduction or prevention of crime, or meets the commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan objectives. Applicants in 2018/2019 are also required to show how they have developed their project in collaboration with their local policing unit and PCSO. Anyone working with vulnerable adults or children must also demonstrate they have the appropriate safeguarding procedures and policies in place.

Fund Objectives

The objectives of the Safer Communities Fund include the provision of a series of grants to help make communities be and feel safer for individual members by funding projects that really make a difference and putting Proceeds Of Crime Act money back where it belongs within the communities. The Fund aims to operate with an inclusive, simple and transparent grant process, supporting projects that bring communities and partners together to tackle issues from the Police and Crime Plan that are priorities. Applicants are therefore advised to familiarise themselves with the Plan’s priorities and outcomes before submitting a grant application. An overview of the key outcomes and priorities can be found in the attached infographic.

Supporting Local Projects

In the 2017/2018 financial year, the Cheshire police Safer Communities Fund was able to provide financial backing for 15 projects that promoted safety messages to local communities and made a difference in helping to reduce levels of crime. Commissioner David Keane stated that the Fund was all about empowering groups and individuals to use their unique local knowledge to build safer communities.

Local Police Community Support Officers

In tandem with the announcement of the increase in the Safer Communities Fund budget, Keane also announced plans to roll out a system where every community in Cheshire is given a named Police Community Support Officer, or PCSO. These named PCSOs will have the time to work closely with residents in their area and to understand the specific needs of their community, having a much larger presence and helping to tackle those issues that affect local residents.

You can find out more about what a PCSO is in the short video attachment.