Wirral Council

Safer Wirral Tracker

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

This nomination is for The Safer Wirral Tracker
The nominees are Wirral Intelligence Service – Lead Analyst Paula Vickers
Wirral Community Safety Team – Lead Mark Camborne

As required by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, Wirral Council and Merseyside Police have worked together with key partners and organisations to develop and implement local crime reduction strategies. In developing such strategies, partners must identify key local crime and disorder priorities through consultation and by analysing crime levels and patterns in the area. Wirral Council came together with Merseyside Police, Mersey Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS), Public Health, voluntary/community sector organisations and housing providers, to form The Safer Wirral Partnership Board (SWPB). SWPB collaborated to build The Wirral Community Strategy 2021-26.

Wirral Council Intelligence Team and the Council Community Safety Lead initiated a project to develop a Safer Wirral Tracker Insight Tool. The project had a number of clear aims and benefits to enable the development of this new tool, these included:
– Data was held in different organisations and places the goal was to create a single set combining the key elements of all datasets.
– The tool to be developed was to deliver insight rather than a focus on data.
– The tool would have the ability to go to low level geographical space to enable improved understanding of the issues across the areas within the borough as well as the borough as a whole.
– The tool would enable trend analysis and identification across different population groups
– It would be as close to real time as possible with alignment of datasets.
– It would remove historical time-consuming reports that were inefficient to use.
– The tool would be used to drive action, to look at different areas see whole parameters of crime and safety and put an action plan in place on a dynamic basis.
– It would allow quick view to support and ensure a single source truth which could also be used to dispel misinformation at speed.

The project approach was agreed by the SWPB working group and data sharing arrangements were agreed and put in place. Wirral Intelligence Service took the lead in the development of the tracker utilising data modelling techniques and the reporting tool Power BI. The Tracker is a community safety tool, enabling its users to access crime and anti-social behaviour data in an interactive environment. Information provided includes crime and anti-social behaviour and gives access to a wide range of insight:
– All crime types, including violence, domestic abuse, acquisitive, criminal damage, drugs, hate crime and modern slavery.
– Anti-social behaviour broken down by youth/adult and type (e.g., anti-social use of scrambler bikes, neighbour disputes, youth gang incidents)
– Victims and offender analysis.
– Youth violence victims and offender analysis, including age groups, gender, location types and relationship types, such as peers and family members
– Geographical and time of day analysis. Includes types of locations, such as in the home, outside place, retail premises and schools
– 4 year trends and comparisons to the wider Merseyside area.

Data is sourced and extracted from various data sets and reports, Police, Council and Merseyside Fire and Rescue systems: including Merseyside Police Management Systems data warehouse and Council ASB reporting database, in an easy to grasp format, all in one place, collection of information does not exist outside of the Tracker. At a glance it takes complex data and presents it in a very visual format. It clearly demonstrates progress and improves decision-making whether working at a partnership level or a team level.

The aim of the Tracker is to help develop a safer Wirral by both reducing offending rates and reducing people’s risk of being a victim of crime or anti-social behaviour. To achieve success, preventative and safeguarding tactics are deployed. The main objectives are to focus child and youth safeguarding initiatives, and crime / anti-social behaviour operational tactics and deployment for maximum results, improve lives, and reduce the cost and burden on services in the longer term.

One key area of focus is safeguarding and making Wirral safer for children and young people. By supplying the council and partners with the tools to focus on the most vulnerable and those at risk of entering into the criminal justice system. The Tracker’s shared intelligence helps the council and SWPB to plan targeted initiatives to disrupt offenders and networks and build defence for vulnerable people and communities. It does this by supplying a wealth of information on where, when and who to focus resources, to maximise results and improve lives, and reduce the burden on services in the longer term. The Tracker is also an important tool used to generate intelligence for the purpose of bidding for grants which are used to improve community safety.

What are the key achievements?

In terms of developing a safer Wirral one initiative the Tracker supported was Operation Open space, a targeted multi-agency activity to prevent and reduce ASB by children and young people in parks, beaches and open spaces over the summer months. The Safer Wirral Tracker supports the planning of preventative activity by enabling trends to be observed and projected. It allows the organisers to identify hot-spot times and locations to more effectively allocate and target limited resources. The Tracker was further utilised to evaluate the success of the operation and show a reduction in youth ASB of 13% compared to the previous year.

The Safer Wirral Tracker and focused dashboards have been instrumental in applications for Government and PCC grants. The bidders are able to identify and inform where residents are most at risk of being a victim of crime and/or anti-social behaviour. The Safer Streets Fund is a process where PCCs and local authorities can apply for funding for crime prevention plans in areas affected by high levels of neighbourhood crime. The Tracker and focused dashboards were used to evidence high crime volumes in the parts of Wirral most in need of funding and compare those volumes to other parts of Wirral and Merseyside, providing statistical evidence of disproportionate levels of crime in those locations. Wirral successfully secured funding in both Safer Streets Fund 1 and Safer Streets Fund 2 application rounds.

Wirral was successful in securing £550,000 in round 1 and £450,000 in round 2 from the Home Office via Merseyside PCC. The Tracker Safer Streets 1 & 2 provided analysis of neighbourhood crime and anti-social behaviour in parts of Birkenhead and Wallasey constituencies. Through the Tracker, SWPB was able to assess where CCTV placement, changes to streetlights, additional alley gates and changes to landscaping or grot spots were needed. To date, activity and infrastructure has included CCTV and Street lighting to reduce the fear of crime, burglary, vehicle crime and prevent anti-social behaviour and violence. Cleansing and clearing of grot spots to improve the local environment to improve the quality of life for residents. Alley gates have been used to reduce both commercial and residential burglary and prevent anti-social behaviour and drug related offences. With these schemes there has been a range of communications for residents including awareness raising campaigns, signage and promotional events which alongside the street improvements has led to greater community cohesion and shared outdoor space usage. The Tracker was also utilised to bid for the Knife Angel to be displayed in Wirral. In 2022. This was utilised to raise the profile of knife crime and for the Council and partners to effectively engage with communities to work to reduce knife crime in Wirral. The tracker has also been used to dispel misinformation, Working in the age of social media and in the political environment of a Council this is very useful.

How Innovative is your initiative?

The Safer Wirral Tracker allows the sharing of intelligence pertaining to crime, anti-social behaviour and victim and offender characterises, between Wirral Council partners including Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, Public Health, voluntary/community sector organisations and housing providers. This has enhanced the collaborative approach for the council and partners to have a collective impact.

The Tracker is built in Microsoft Power BI which allows a huge amount of insight to be available, but displayed in a slick, easy to access, easy to understand way. The end-user can view as much or as little as needed. Historically, reports have been static, meaning what you see is what you get. But Tracker for the first time allows the end-user to choose to their own parameters and to view exactly what they need. This is achieved by giving end-users options to create their own filters and drill-downs into specific themes and areas of concern. The interactive mapping tool allows viewing from Wirral-wide to street level, meaning tactics can be targeted to very small locations at specific times of the day, optimising resources, and costs.Power BI also supports exporting data and visuals into PDF, PowerPoint and Excel at any stage. This can be useful for supporting bids for grants and bids for local resourcing initiatives.

The Tracker negates the need for lengthy reports. Community safety reports have previously been presented in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint with rigid Wirral wide and blanket offence types due to the practicality of limiting a report to a sensible and digestible number of pages or slides. This old approach hinders discussion and decision making, as information is limited and therefore necessitates further data gathering and analysis, resulting multiple meetings between decision makes and delays in strategic and operational planning.

For time critical events, this can render reports pointless. Evaluation of decisions made, and tactics deployed takes time as data for evaluation reports need to be gathered, and further reports written. The Tracker summarises a large amount of data from multiple sources and allows the user to drill through to tables and visuals to find specific timescales, locations, crime and anti-social behaviour types, and victim / offender characteristics. This all means decision makers can access all the information needed in one meeting, promoting effective discussion and informed decision making. Evaluation of the effectiveness of diversionary tactics and target hardening operations can be made whilst tactics and operations are active and at any time following end dates. Police feedback notes that this is innovative approach that is not available in other areas and there is a lot of interest from them when it is showcased.

What are the key learning points?

The main challenge faced was ensuring users feel confident in their ability to navigate the tracker to find the information needed. This is a new way of working for most people who have been used to viewing one-dimensional reports. This is overcome by demonstrating the full power of the Tracker through group and bespoke events. Users are now reporting back that they demonstrate the Tracker to other interested parties and tell us how they have used it to gather information pertinent to their requirements. The Tracker is completely scalable and is constantly being developed and improved on as it reaches wider audiences. It has recently expanded to include Wirral Council anti-social behaviour calls and activities and will be further developed to include Council Emergency Control Room and Coastal & Inland Water Safety data and road traffic safety data.

The Tracker approach has also been the foundation to develop a range of other reports which has led to the development of a suite of Community Safety reports. This has included Contextual Safeguarding interactive reports including Safer Adolescence Strategy, Youth Justice, Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Exploitation and Violence against Women and Girls. The Tracker is replicable by other local authorities with access to police management systems or by police forces. A commitment from partners to enable effective data sharing is required. Another requirement needed is a small team of staff with strong analytical skills and working knowledge of Power BI (or other similar reporting tool) in which to build their trackers. The team must also have the ability to work collaboratively with those who use the tracker to ensure that the tracker is fit for purpose and that continuous development to optimise its use can be put in place.