Amy Hurst, Serious and Organised Crime Community Coordinator, Sedgemoor District Council discusses the importance of community resilience and the Home Office pilot program to support action against SOC.
When launching the National Crime Agency (NCA) National Strategic Assessment in May 2019, Director General Lynne Ownes said that Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) ‘kills more people every year than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined’ and that SOC affects ‘more UK citizens, more frequently than any other national security threat’. With a threat of this scale, it is clear that policing alone can’t tackle the issues we face in relation to SOC.
Serious and Organised Crime Community Coordinators
Supporting community resilience is a key part of a Home Office pilot program which has seen SOC Community Coordinator roles established within five areas across the country. As the coordinator covering the Sedgemoor District Council area, my role is a partnership post focusing on developing responses to SOC which bring together the local authority, police, other partners and perhaps most importantly, the community.
As a relatively rural area, Sedgemoor may not experience the same level of SOC threat and demand that we see in larger urban areas and big cities, but it is important to recognise that the impact of SOC is wide-reaching and touches communities in different ways. I see a key part of my role as seeking to work alongside the local community in Sedgemoor to understand the impact SOC is having and to look for approaches which put the community right at the centre of building their own resilience.
The Role of Communities
All too often as professionals we can frame our view of communities around the issues they face rather than looking at the many strengths which exist. By shifting our thinking to a strengths-based approach, we open up a world of innovative approaches which are owned and driven by communities themselves.
One such example of this approach comes from local faith communities within Sedgemoor who have come together as part of The Clewer Initiative Hidden Voices programme. Hidden Voices sees representatives from churches across the area come together to learn about modern slavery and exploitation and begin to understand how those issues may manifest within our local communities.
Following the initial programme, we now have a group of individuals embedded within our communities who are committed to awareness raising and offering support to vulnerable people. These community members occupy a unique position which could not be filled by police or local authority staff and they add a valuable dimension to a partnership response to SOC. As SOC Community Coordinator, it is a real privilege that I get to work alongside a group of people who are committed to making a real difference within the local area.
I am delighted to have been asked to speak at the upcoming event and I look forward to sharing with you more of the work we are taking forward in Sedgemoor and the wider local area to prevent SOC and build resilience within our local communities. With such a wide range of speakers with a wealth of different experiences, I am sure there will be a great deal to learn at the forum and I look forward to sharing ideas and learning with colleagues from across the country.