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Community Commission

Fostering community engagement and inclusivity in decision-making processes

The North Yorkshire Community Commission on Police, Fire, and Crime is aimed at fostering community engagement and inclusivity in decision-making processes.

The Community Commission was funded as an independent project, and completed, through the former Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s Community Fund.

Leaders Unlocked are a non-profit enterprise, enabling people to have a voice on key issues that affect their lives.

Community Commission Report - Front cover

Report Summary

Six representatives from underrepresented groups were recruited and supported to develop and carry out peer-led research and focus groups, with 90 participants from the following organisations:

The organisations that contributed to the report were:

  • York LGBT Forum
    York LGBT Forum is a charity which aims to improve LGBT rights in York, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom and across the world.  
  • Up For Yorkshire
    Established in 1977 – our aim is simple – to enable the voluntary and community sector to grow and flourish,
    whilst at the same time supporting an inclusive community for everyone.
     
  • Ark House Rehab
    Ark House is a 12 Step residential rehab. Established in 1993, it has consistently provided effective & successful treatment for people who wish to overcome their addiction problems. 
  • Revival North Yorkshire
    Revival North Yorkshire support older and vulnerable people in Danby, Castleton, Lealholm, Glaisdale, Staithes Sleights and surrounding moor and coastal villages. 
  • Northallerton Mencap
    For over 50 years we have been your local independent charity supporting and campaigning for people of all ages with learning disabilities, their parents and carers. 
  • Disability Support Forum
    North Yorkshire Disability Forum (NYDF) aims to improve the lives of people with physical and/or sensory impairment in North Yorkshire.

The Community Commission looked at five areas of concern:

Police Visibility & Community Relationships
Groups feel that they have lost the community policing relationship that used to exist. Many, especially in more rural areas said they never saw police officers and wanted more visible police presence to create reassurance.

  • Feedback included:
    “I have lived here for 18 years, and you used to be able to see a local policeman on a bike every day – I haven’t seen one for several years.”
    “I wouldn’t bother ringing the police as they would take too long to get here.” 

Hate Crime
Authorities’ responses to hate crimes varies drastically. Some reported receiving positive support on one occasion, and not receiving it in others.

  • Feedback included:
    “People feel safer on the streets than in accommodation provided.”
    “Members of the LGBT community won’t go out alone; it affects people’s lives.” 

Community Safety
Lots of marginalised and underrepresented community groups do not feel safe both out in public and while using public services, including on the streets, on public transport, and in provided accommodation. This was consistent among many different groups, who all felt fearful of victimisation.

  • Feedback included:
    “Who you get on the switchboard can make a real difference.”
    “Death by a thousand cuts – if we reported every time, I’d be doing nothing else.”

Mental Health
Groups interviewed recognised that police have a role to play in mental health but are not adequately trained to offer the level of support or understanding often needed. There was concern that those with mental health issues may be wrongly criminalised and discriminated against.

  • Feedback included:
    “Who you get on the switchboard can make a real difference.”
    “Death by a thousand cuts – if we reported every time, I’d be doing nothing else.”

Transparency
Openness and transparency amongst authorities were recurring concerns. Lots were unaware of the role of the PFCC, or that they could make complaints through this route.

  • Feedback included:
    “Police are just not well trained enough to deal with mental health issues.”
    “Poor mental health and crime go hand in hand”

About the Community Commission – December 2023 – April 2024

In December 2023 we advertised for adults from diverse backgrounds across North Yorkshire to become Citizen Researchers and to represent their local community.

We particularly encouraged individuals from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, religious communities, LGBTQ+ communities, traveller communities, women, individuals with additional needs, those with insecure housing or employment, and those with prior experience in the police or criminal justice system to apply.

As a Citizen Researcher on the Community Commission, members became the authentic voice of their community, directly influencing the direction of police, fire, and crime-related policies.

The Community Commission worked closely with the former Police, Fire, and Crime Commissioner, as well as the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and North Yorkshire Police, and had a unique opportunity to raise community concerns and become an advocate for impactful changes.

Key Responsibilities of a Citizen Researcher were:

  • Conducting peer research
  • Developing priorities that reflect the needs of the community
  • Developing recommendations for change

The role required a commitment of approximately five meetings and two peer research events, both in-person and online, between December 2023 and April 2024.