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Funding cuts ‘threaten safer community group’
A GROUP that works to keep the county safe has warned “prevention is cheaper than cure” as it faces funding cuts.
The Oxfordshire Safer Communities Partnership dishes out more than £1m to crime fighting work every year – with its funding coming from the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Oxfordshire County Council.
But PCC Anthony Stansfeld has pulled about £100,000 — cutting his contribution to the budget from £891,160 in 2013/14 to £789,316 in 2014/15 – after the Home Office cut funding to him.
At a County Hall meeting on Thursday, board members said they needed to demonstrate the partnership’s good work to avoid further cuts.
It comes as Oxfordshire County Council, which currently gives the board £230,000-a-year, looks to cut £61m from its budget over the next four years.
Mark Booty, the West Oxfordshire District Council representative on the board, said: “We are about prevention of crime occurring, we are about re-offenders being brought back into the community. Prevention is much cheaper than cure.”
Board chairman Bill Service, South Oxfordshire district councillor for Didcot Ladygrove, told the board he was worried about the partnership’s future.
He said: “The county have to look long and hard at services they provide and they have to support the services that provide the best value for the community.”
The partnership hands out money to safer communities partnership boards in each of the county districts.
They then decide which projects and organisations to support.
Cash has been used to back crime prevention awareness campaigns, domestic abuse victims, and to curb antisocial behaviour.
Mr Service said: “We are trying to make communities feel safer.
“We want communities where people are not afraid to walk down the street at night or where kids can go to the park without being harassed.”
Mr Stansfeld – who is cutting his grant by 11.4 per cent – said his funding for the partnership work had been cut by 21 per cent.
He said: “Community Safety Partnerships play a significant part in reducing crime and have been particularly effective in Oxfordshire.
“I regard CSPs as a vital service to both policing and public safety so I have moved extra funds into the Oxfordshire CSP so the cut they receive is reduced to just over 11 per cent.”
County council spokesman Owen Morton said no final decisions had been made over the latest cuts.
He said: “Proposals will be announced in December and no final decisions have been taken on any of our services.
“The council currently provides around £230,000 towards Community Safety Partnerships in Oxfordshire.
“Overall funding responsibility for the partnerships however, rests with the PCC.”
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