Report to:

People Scrutiny Committee


Date of meeting:


16th September 2021


Director of Adult Social Care



Annual Review of Safer Communities Performance, Priorities, and Issues



To update the Committee on performance in relation to safer communities in 2020/21, and priorities and issues highlighted in the Partnership Business Plan 2020 - 2023




To consider and comment on performance in 2020/21 and the priorities and issues identified for 2020 -2023



1.            Summary Performance Highlights 2020/21


1.1          Restrictions on people’s movements during the Covid-19 lockdowns caused dramatic changes in crime opportunities, with Sussex Police Sussex Police recording a decrease of 16.2% in reported crimes from the previous year, with significant reductions in reported burglaries, theft, and serious violence.


1.2          The overall number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents rose sharply by 73.9%, and ASB crimes rose by 41.1%; this increase is linked to how Sussex Police categorised breaches of the COVID-19 regulations.


1.3          Drug Trafficking Offences increased by 30.1%.


1.4          Although in general, domestic abuse incidents and crimes reported to Sussex Police have been increasing year on year in line with national trend data, the impact of the pandemic shows a decrease of 5.5% in domestic abuse reported crimes during this period.


1.5          Only 26 referrals to the commissioned domestic abuse community service last year were from the over 60s age group. Given the demographics of East Sussex, older people are under-represented in referrals which also reflects the national picture.


1.6          East Sussex commissioned drug and alcohol treatment services had a significantly lower rate of successful alcohol completions than the national average (26.1% compared to 36.7%); this is being addressed through an Improvement Plan with the Provider.



2.            Background Information


2.1.        The East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership (SCP) is responsible for developing a Community Safety Business Plan which addresses shared strategic priorities for community safety across its members. This enables the Partnership to make use of economies of scale in tackling priorities across districts and boroughs, identifying regional changes in the activities and resources of criminals or vulnerable people, and accessing opportunities for county-level funding. In East Sussex local drug and alcohol strategies form part of the Safer Communities Business Plan.


2.2.        The County Council’s priorities for community safety are informed by the East Sussex Safer Communities Partnership business planning process in a three-year business planning cycle.


2.3.        In preparation for the three-year plan 2020 - 2023, the Safer East Sussex Team (SEST) undertook research to inform the partnership priority setting process. The information was then shared with partners at a partnership development morning.  Following agreement by the Board on the community safety priorities for the three years ahead, a Partnership Business Plan was developed. The plan is refreshed on an annual basis following a strategic assessment of community safety, and the partnership is in its second year of the current business planning cycle. The Business Plan is attached at Appendix 1 of this report and sets the direction for Partnership work for 2021/22.


2.4.        In addition to the SCP there are four local Community Safety Partnerships in East Sussex.  Each of these partnerships publish a plan to address the issues raised in their local area and as defined by their own partnerships.

2.5.        The Strategic Assessment of Community Safety exploring national and local trends and the impact of national policy and legislation, is undertaken every three years with an annual refresh, in order to select work streams and plan activity for the year ahead.  In two-tier authorities one document may be produced which encompasses all of the districts within that area. The 2021/22 Strategic Assessment will be considered at the Safer Communities Partnership Board meeting on 21st September 2021.


2.6.        The Safer Communities Partnership priorities areinterconnected and crosscutting, aligning with the priorities of other Partnerships to keep East Sussex safe. A Joint Partnership Protocol between the Safer Communities Partnership and Safeguarding Adults Board, Safeguarding Children Partnership, and the Children and Young People’s Trust facilitates the identification of shared priorities and joint working.


3.            Performance Metrics


3.1       Over the past three years there have been significant changes nationally in the way that performance metrics are evaluated.  Agencies have moved away from numerical targets and measures, focussing instead on broader outcomes over longer periods. This is reflected in the Sussex Police and Crime Plan for 2017 - 21, and the Sussex Police Operational Delivery Plan 2019/20. The Safer Communities Partnership has also mirrored this trend and has developed a headline report, which monitors outcomes and activity as opposed to output targets.


3.2       On the 14 April 2021 the Policing Minister wrote to Police & Crime Commissioners outlining new national crime and policing measures across six areas: homicide, serious violence, drug supply, neighbourhood violence, cyber-crime, and victim satisfaction, with a particular focus on victims of domestic abuse. If finalised, national benchmarks will be established, based on traditional data such as recorded crime as well as new measures including the number of police referrals into drug treatment programmes, and hospital admissions for youth stabbings.


3.3       Flexibility in how any changes to the policing measures noted above are monitored by the Safer Communities Partnership Board may be needed in order to align with Government and Sussex Police priorities. Progress against the national measures would be reviewed on a quarterly basis by the Crime, Policing and Performance Board (CPPB), chaired by the Policing Minister.[1]


4.         Community Engagement

4.1       The East Sussex Reputation Tracker Survey is carried out annually to gather information from a cross-section of approximately 1,000 East Sussex residents. Part of this survey asks residents to select three Community Safety Priorities and three types of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) that they feel are most important for the Safer Communities Partnership to tackle. These results are used to inform its Strategic Assessment and in selecting its ongoing priorities[2]; no survey was completed in 2020 while the 2021 edition was completed in June/July 2021 during a time in which COVID-lockdowns were undergoing national review.

4.2       Community Safety areas most chosen by East Sussex residents as first, second or third priorities were Sexual Violence & Abuse (39.5%), Serious Violent Crime including Knife Crime (37.6%) and Online Safety, Harassment & Abuse (32.3%). The most significant increases in areas being chosen were in Online Safety, Harassment & Abuse (increasing from 19.5% in the 2019 survey to 32.5% of respondents), Fraud & Scams (7.6% to 14.3%) and Reducing Reoffending (12.9% to 17.5%). Online Safety, Harassment and Abuse was the first choice for 12.6% of respondents, a rise from 7.0% in 2019, and the second most-chosen priority area after Serious Violent Crime (19.8%; 19.0% in 2019).

4.3       The Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) areas most chosen as first, second or third priorities were Drug Dealing in Public Places (33.6%), Underage Drinking (32.4%) and Aggressive Street Begging (26.8%). The most significant increases in areas being chosen were in Verbal Abuse / Intimidation in Public (increasing from 15.2% of respondents in 2019 to 24.3% in 2021) and Fly-Tipping (from 10.4% to 18.1%).


4.4       There was a significant decrease in respondents choosing Anti-Social Driving/Speeding as a priority (from 25.1% to 17.9%) which is most likely a reflection of the decreased use of cars and motorbikes during the county’s COVID-related lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

4.5       From across the available options more respondents chose their priorities as a result of having themselves or their relatives directly experience them (63.1% vs. 50.0% in 2019), with the most significant increases in Online Safety, Harassment & Abuse (from 22 respondents to 97 in 2021), Road Safety (from 46 to 109 respondents), and Serious Violent Crime (from 64 to 83 respondents).

4.6       Verbal Abuse & Intimidation saw a significant increase in the number of respondents reporting direct experience (104 respondents vs. 69 in 2019) as did Vehicle Crime (60 respondents vs. 26 in 2019), Drug Dealing in Public Places (117 respondents vs. 87 in 2019) and Littering (81 respondents vs. 50 in 2019). 



5.         Headline Activity Sussex Police Data 2020/21


5.1       Over the last few years new challenges and new types of crime have surfaced. There has been a notable shift away from traditional crime types to emerging threats such as cyber-crime, human trafficking, child criminal exploitation and serious organised violence related to County Lines[3].


5.2       On the 23rd March 2020 the UK went into lockdown, significantly changing the way people live, and the way in which criminals operate. Restrictions on people’s movements caused dramatic changes in crime opportunities. Nationally, many crime types from shoplifting to burglary declined, while other crime types, including domestic violence and online crimes (from fraud to child sexual abuse) increased. As we ease out of lockdown, the nature of criminality will change once again, and it is a challenge to predict the impact that the lifting of restrictions will bring, and the further impact of any future variant waves on society. Many of the crimes that will have occurred during the pandemic are harmful and hidden crimes that are under-reported, and there are many vulnerable groups of people needing support.


5.3       In the year to end March 2021 Sussex Police recorded a total of 32,374 offences in East Sussex compared to 38,654 the previous year, a decrease of 16.2% (- 6,280 crimes) and in line with decreases seen across Sussex overall[4]. The overall number of anti-social behaviour (ASB) incidents rose sharply by 73.9% to 16,892 over this period (+ 7,178 incidents) and ASB crimes rose by 41.1% to 1,803 (+525 crimes)[5].  This included significant increases to Nuisance and Personal forms of ASB; these increases can be linked to how Sussex Police have categorised breaches of COVID-19 regulations and therefore may not necessarily indicate an overall rise in ASB.

5.4       Crime types which have experienced the most significant changes since 2019/20 include Burglary (-37.6% to 1,639 crimes in 2020/21), Theft (-33.3% to 4,508 crimes in 2020/21) and all Vehicle-related offences (-42.5% to 1,511 crimes in 2020/21). Decreases have been seen in Shoplifting (-35.4%) and Burglary Business & Community (-31.1%) as businesses in hospitality and retail have been closed for significant periods due to COVID lockdowns, and high-density public spaces have seen reduced footfall.

5.5       One significant crime-type increase was in Drug Trafficking Offences, increasing by 30.1% to 238 crimes in 2020/21; this is again reflective of trends across Sussex as a whole.

5.6       Serious Violent Offences[6] have decreased by 19.5% to 297 crimes over 2020/21; there were two homicides in this period compared to eight in 2019/20. A profile of Serious Violence in November 2020[7] showed that serious violent offences occurred roughly equally in public and non-public places; only Hastings showed a significant imbalance with 64% of offences occurring in public. All Violence with Injury Offences decreased by 18% (-879 crimes to 4,006) across East Sussex, in a pattern similar to Brighton and West Sussex. 

6.         Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse

6.1       Through 2020/21, domestic abuse incidents have seen peaks and troughs without a significant overall difference in annual figures.

6.2       Police data for East Sussex generally over the past few years, reflects the national trend of an increase in domestic abuse-related crimes - up to the start of the pandemic which has had an impact on the volume of these offences along with other crimes.

6.3       Between 2017 and 2020, all Districts and Boroughs experienced increases in domestic abuse related crimes with an average East Sussex increase of 28% during this time. Eastbourne and Rother experienced the highest increases (49% and 33%) and Wealden and Hastings the lowest increases (19% and 12%).

6.4       As a result of the impact of the pandemic, Police data for domestic abuse-related crimes for the rolling Year May 2020 – April 2021 shows a decrease of 5.5% (6,035 down from 6,384 in the rolling year May 2019 – April 2021). The shift from a gradual increase to a gradual decrease in the data, started in October 2020.

6.5       Police data for East Sussex for the rolling year May 2020 – April 2021 for non-crimed incidents with a domestic abuse marker also shows a very slight decrease of 0.7% from the rolling year May 2019 – April 2020 (decreasing from 4,286 to 4,258).

6.6       Between April 2020 and end March 2021, 986 high risk domestic violence and abuse cases were discussed at the East Sussex Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs)[8]. This is a decrease of 6% when compared to the previous year and is notable for being out of sync with a 10% increase in national referrals in this period.

6.7       This recent decrease notwithstanding, ESCC MARACs continue to discuss above the expected number of cases (based on the estimate of 40 cases per 10,000 adult females), remaining at an average of 44 cases per 10,000.

Historic MARAC data for context:

Financial Year

ELW (Number of cases discussed)

HR (Number of cases discussed)

BH (Number of cases discussed)


559 (10% decrease on previous year)

427 (2% decrease on previous year)

697 (2% decrease on previous year)

















% increase between 2016/2017 to 2020/21

81% increase

33% increase

32% increase


6.8       Repeat referral rates in 2020/21 accounted for 34% of all cases discussed in Eastbourne, Lewes, and Wealden, and 28% of cases discussed in Hastings and Rother; both within Safe Lives’ recommended range of 28% to 40%.

6.9       There was an increase in the number of children associated with MARAC referrals in the household, rising from 1,700 in 2019/20 to 1,844 in 2020/21, a rise of just under 9%. Children are a significant feature of high-risk discussion and the increase in numbers has an additional resource impact on ESCC Children’s Services in terms of researching this number of cases/ children.

6.10     East Sussex MARAC referrals from groups with specific protected characteristics fall within the expected/ recommended range for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT), and for male victim/ survivors. Referrals for victim/ survivors with disabilities are significantly higher than the expected range, comprising over 40% of referrals to MARAC in Hastings and Rother; referrals of people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are higher than expected, in particular in the West of the County:

April 2020-March 2021


National figure

Most similar force group

SafeLives recommends

Sussex Police force

Eastbourne, Lewes & Wealden

Hastings & Rother











2.5% - 5.8%














5% - 10%




Victims aged 16-17







Cases where victims aged 16-17







Number of young people aged 17 or below harming others








6.11     During 2020/21, the Change, Grow, Live (CGL, then known as the ‘Portal’) commissioned community domestic abuse services received 2,707 referrals. Referrals increased to an average of 58 medium/high risk referrals received each week in Q4, an increase of 3.86% compared to Q3. This follows the slight dip in Q3 (50 referrals per week) after the annual seasonal high in Q2. The impact of the second lockdown and the dip in referrals in Q3 were not seen to the same extent during Q4 and the third lockdown, where arguably restrictions were not followed as stringently as they had been previously.

6.12     Only 26 referrals to CGL last year were from the over 60s age group. Given the demographics of East Sussex, older people are under-represented in referrals to CGL and to domestic abuse services nationally. Engagement workshops and meetings with key stakeholders in East Sussex, including organisations and agencies working with older people, had been carried out as part of the recommission of DVA services in 2019. This engagement work highlighted specific barriers for older people accessing support for domestic abuse, which reflects national research findings around generational norms impacting on victims not framing their experience as domestic abuse and/or feeling comfortable reporting to the Police; reliance on the perpetrator financially and/or for caring responsibilities; more reluctance to leave the family home; and being less likely to know where to seek support. Older people are also more likely to seek support from ‘older people’s services’ than a domestic abuse organisation.


6.13     There has also been an increase in complexity of vulnerabilities of peoples accessing support from CGL and this trend has also been reported by the specialist rape and sexual violence service, Survivors Network. This includes an increase in those with mental health needs and suicidal ideation. A Complex Needs Worker has been recruited within CGL to address this trend with a focus on mental health, homelessness, and substance misuse.


7.         Drug and Alcohol Treatment


7.1       The table below shows the data relating to the commissioned adult drug and alcohol treatment service for 2020/21 with comparison data for England:


Treatment Group

Numbers in Treatment East Sussex

Successful Completions

East Sussex

Successful Completions

England data














7.2       Numbers in treatment have remained relatively stable over the past three years with no significant increases or decreases through 2020/21.


7.3       The commissioned provider has produced an Improvement Plan and commissioners are closely monitoring progress against this, with a focus on increasing the availability of ambulatory alcohol detox services across the county.


8.         Partnership Priorities April 2020 to March 2023



8.1       The priorities set for the 2020/23 Partnership Business Plan were set following a partnership Development Day during which the recommendations of the full strategic assessment were discussed and agreed. The following priority areas have been agreed following the refreshed strategic assessment:


a)    Serious Organised Crime - Reduce the vulnerability of individuals and communities to being drawn into or becoming victims of organised crime by supporting whole-community approaches which combine policing, education, and social services.


b)    Serious Violent Crime - Break up patterns and cycles of violent crime - especially knife crime – by creating and sustaining multi-agency partnerships which are better at sharing intelligence, supporting victims, rehabilitating offenders, and intervening earlier when our community identifies at-risk people.


c)    Domestic Abuse - Challenge and end cycles of abuse by creating working environments which give professionals more time and resources to identify and understand vulnerable peoples’ specific needs, create safe-spaces, and adopt criminal justice strategies to challenge and reform the behaviour of offenders.


d)    Drugs and Alcohol Related Harm - Create long-lasting reductions to the harm caused by substance misuse in our communities including social isolation, crime, and health risks through a combination of outreach, treatment/recovery, diversion, and enforcement approaches which support vulnerable people, their families, and communities.


8.2       Partners have also agreed that the following work streams would be maintained:


a)    Violent Extremism - Reduce the power and reach and extremist networks through outreach, education, and early intervention, including risk-assessing vulnerable people and creating networks which identify extremist behaviour and break apart its links to violence and other serious crime.


b)    Reducing Re-Offending - Foster supportive and safe communities by reducing the risk and seriousness of reoffending, through bringing together agencies to consider accommodation as a major pillar in aiding released prisoners to access community services and transition to civilian life.


c)    Anti-Social Behaviour and Hate Crime- Enable our households and communities to remain safe by identifying hotspots where incidents and patterns of anti-social behaviour, hate and abuse occur, alongside creating effective enforcement strategies and coordinating services for young and at-risk people to offer education and prevention.


d)    Road Safety - Reduce deaths and serious injuries by ensuring that road networks are safe, drivers are properly educated and incentivised against unnecessary risk-taking or anti-social driving and ensuring road infrastructure remains fit for purpose.


8.3       Running across all these themes is the use of social media and other digital technology. Partnership member organisations are proactive in using social media to communicate between Partnerships and with our communities and are committed to expanding and improving access to technology, educating the public about its uses, and offering protection and support against its potential risks and dangers.


8.4       For those areas that have not been agreed as priorities, such as street communities, it is important to note that these are being dealt with through other partnership structures.  It is also important to note that the partnership remains interested and actively involved in these areas of work, providing support where appropriate.  The full descriptions of the Partnership priorities are set out in the attached Business Plan (Appendix 1).


9.   Community Safety Developments in East Sussex 2021

9.1       There are a number of challenges and opportunities on the horizon that will impact on partnership work over the coming year:

a)    Readings of the Police, Crime Sentencing & Courts Bill, placing new duties on schools, police, councils, and healthauthorities to prevent serious violence.

b)    The implications and requirements of the Domestic Abuse Act, which aims to reform how the justice system and partner agencies work with victims of domestic abuse.

c)    The National Probation Service and regional Community Rehabilitation Companies re-unifying in June 2021.

d)    Changes to the Channel management process under the government’s Prevent anti-extremism program, giving more responsibility and autonomy to local government safeguarding panels   .     

e)    New recommendations arising from an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act.



10        Supporting Information – Funding and Finance


10.1     There are no specific financial implications arising from this report. 

10.2     Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (SPCC) funding for community safety is directly allocated to District and Borough Council based Community Safety Partnerships.  

10.3     Safer Communities Partners have applied for and successfully secured several new funding streams during 2021/22:

a)    Changing Futures Programme fund – pan-Sussex bid awarded July 2021 to end March 2024; total funding: £4,425,000 to effect systems change for people experiencing severe and multiple disadvantage.

b)    Safer Streets (2) fund – Wealden District Council awarded £309,453 for 12 months for target hardening measures/ CCTV in Hailsham through 2021/22.

c)    Respite Rooms fund – Hastings Borough Council awarded July 2021 to end March 2024; total funding £310,650 to provide a safe, single gender space for a short period of time with intensive, trauma informed support so women affected by domestic abuse and homelessness can make choices and decisions around next steps for recovery.

d)    Accommodation for Ex-Offenders Scheme – Hastings Borough Council awarded £255,000.00 from July 2021 to end March 2023.

e)    Home Office Violence Reduction Fund via the Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership £130,000 for Children’s Services to deliver the College Central Project and MACE Family Keywork.

f)     Home Office/ Public Health England (PHE) - £1.95 million for Project ADDER, a project to address the use of heroin and crack cocaine running between 2020 and end March 2021, in Hastings.

g)    PHE Universal Funding - £390,000 through 2021/22 County-wide funding to strengthen the links between the criminal justice system and the drug and alcohol treatment system, to reduce the number of drug related deaths and increase the numbers of people in treatment.

h)    PHE Inpatient Detox Funding - £72,422 through 2021/22 to increase the capacity of in-patient detox treatment on a regional level.

i)      PHE £94,325 - funding to improve the employability of East Sussex residents affected by drug and alcohol misuse disorders.


10.4     Additionally, Safer Communities Partners are planning to bid for, or waiting for the outcome of the following funding bids:

a)    Safer Streets (3) VAWG funding – the SPCC has submitted two pan-Sussex partnership bids to end March 2022 to address Violence Against Women and Girls: a primary bid for £549,493.80 to provide a Safe Space app, relationships work in schools, bystander training, VAWG Community Navigators, Street Pastors, and CCTV; and a secondary bid for £412,763 for lighting and CCTV in parks across Sussex.

b)    Night-Time Economy VAWG fund – amount to be confirmed.

c)    Local Leadership Integration Fund – amount to be confirmed.


10.5     ESCC was awarded £1,069,272 MHCLG funding for 2021/22 to provide support for victim/ survivors of domestic violence and abuse in safe accommodation; East Sussex district and borough councils also received funding to facilitate their contribution to the underpinning pan-Sussex needs assessment and strategy development.

10.6     ESCC has increased its baseline contribution into Domestic Abuse Refuge provision for the new contract starting 1st November 2021, from £343,000 pa to £535,380 pa, with additional one-off budgetary resource of £338,802 ring-fenced for capital spend to improve refuge buildings.

10.7     Non-recurrent ‘Invest to Save’ funding secured from ESCC to fund Against Violence Events: £25,000; a ‘Get Safe on Line’ digital package for three years: £33,000; an independent evaluation of partnership ‘Trailblazer’ work to support people to secure accommodation on leaving prison; and £650,000 to purchase a property to locate substance misuse treatment services in Hastings.

10.8     Pan Sussex additional Serious Violence Home Office Funding for the SWITCH programme £228,084 and also for Trauma-Informed multi-agency training across Sussex £290,778.

11.       Conclusion and Reasons for Recommendations


11.1     The East Sussex Safer Community Partnership continues to focus on keeping communities safe; protecting vulnerable people and identifying and responding to risk of harm, in the context of legislative parameters, including the application of new legislation in the Domestic Abuse Act and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. A partnership priority is to effect system change to improve outcomes for people who experience severe and multiple disadvantage, which relates to a combination of substance misuse, accommodation, offending behaviours, domestic violence and abuse, and mental and physical health needs.  During the COVID 19 pandemic the Safer East Sussex Team continued to work with partners to deliver the Safety Communities Partnership priorities and ensure the ongoing provision of commissioned services for people experiencing substance misuse and domestic and sexual violence and abuse.  


11.2     The Committee is asked to consider and comment on the performance and achievements of the Partnership and their plans for 2020 to 2023.


Director of Adult Social Care


Justine Armstrong-Smith, Safer Communities Manager
Tel: 01323 466526


Appendix 1 – The Partnership Business Plan 2020 to 2023

Appendix 2 - Best Practice Examples of Community Safety Work carried out in 2020/21


[1] Minutes of the meeting of the City of London Police Authority Board, 20th April 2021. Available at:

[2] Residents were given a pre-defined list of 14 priority areas and asked to rank from 1 to 3, with 1 being the most important. A full detailed analysis at district/borough & postcode level (where available) can be obtained from Ryan Weedon, Safer Communities Analyst, Safer East Sussex Team

[3] County Lines is a major, cross-cutting issue involving drugs, violence, gangs, safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and missing persons. It involves child criminal exploitation (CCE) with gangs using both vulnerable children and adults to move drugs and money from urban to market towns. Gangs establish a base in the market location, typically by taking over the homes of local vulnerable adults by force or coercion in a practice referred to as ‘cuckooing’.


[4] Performance Information Unit, Sussex Police

[5] East Sussex Neighbourhood Support Team, Sussex Police

[6] Serious Violent Crime is defined by Sussex Police through using the Home Office crime sub-groups Homicide and Violence with Injury with an exception within all Assault with Injury offences to include only the offences with wording "grievous bodily harm" or wounding with intent", and excludes all Actual Bodily Harm offences                                       

[7] Claire Rivers, Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership, April 2021 - Serious Violent Crime Problem Profile – East Sussex: Public Place and Non-Public Place Serious Violent Crime

[8] Safe Lives MARAC data, April 2021 to March 2021. Further published data can be found at