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£2m funding for nationwide implementation of ‘Clear, Hold, Build’

The initiative is a multi-agency partnership tactic aimed at tackling serious organised crime.

Around £2m funding has been announced today for all forces to adopt a new approach to tackling serious and organised crime.

The ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ initiative sees police pursue gang members to clear an area, hold the location and then build the community into a “more prosperous area”.

The ‘Clear’ phase will see officers target members of OCGs using the necessary criminal, civil and regulatory powers. During the ‘Hold’ phase, they work with local partners such as drugs and treatment services – the idea is to prevent other groups taking control of the area which has been ‘cleared’.

Finally, the ‘Build’ phase focuses on a ‘whole-system’ and longer-term plan aimed at making the area more hospitable and creating opportunities for young and vulnerable people, including for example establishing sports teams or setting up community gardens. It will also see the establishment of better relationships between the police and the community.

The initiative has been piloted in seven force areas since 2020 (West Yorkshire, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Hampshire, North Wales, Northumbria and Bedfordshire).

It has since been referenced in HMIC reports as ‘Innovative Practice’. In a PEEL spotlight report ‘The police response to burglary, robbery and other acquisitive crime’, West Yorkshire’s pilot was highlighted. 

The report said: “Prior to this intervention, residents described perceptions of lawlessness in the streets and feeling intimidated by the “blatant drug dealing”. Other residents felt scared to report crimes because of a fear of reprisal and a lack of trust in police.”

At the time of the report, formal evaluation had not yet taken place, but the intervention ‘Breaking the Cycle’ that had been used by the force had reach 853 young people and boasted a 92% engagement rate.

It saw 24/7 targeted youth work to divert people into programmes of activity, and the report cites a “staggering reduction” of burglary offences in the ward from 877 in August 2020 to 0 in October 2021. Meanwhile, there was a 27% reduction in the severity of crime types during the same period.

Meanwhile, thanks to their pilot, Merseyside saw an increase in operational outcomes between August and October – it included 420 arrests, 11 firearms and 90 vehicle seizures.

Police Oracle understands that forces will kick-start the initiative when they have the resources to do so, but that it is expected that all forces adopt it by 2024.

The funding announced today will go to the ROCUs and will be put towards serious and organised crime co-odinators who will sit within the ROCUs and support forces to deliver partnership responses.

The other half of the funding will be put towards a performance management and information system to enhance forces' ability to respond to local threats.

Also today, the government has launched a consultation on potential new laws to criminalise the making, supply and possession of items strongly suspected to facilitate serious crime. Among these are digital templates for 3D printing firearms components, pill presses and sophisticated encrypted communication devices.

The consultation will also look at strengthening Serious Crime Prevention Orders to make it easier for police and other law enforcement agencies to place restrictions on suspected offenders and stop them from participating in further crime. It may involve expanding the list of enforcement agencies that can apply an Order in the absence of a conviction to include police forces (currently only able to do so in terrorism-related cases), the National Crime Agency and British Transport Police.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Serious and Organised Crime, Chief Constable Steve Jupp, said: “The support for this system-wide approach, alongside significant investment into ROCUs, has enabled us to maximise our efforts and effectiveness against high harm offenders alongside our law enforcement partners. Extending and maintaining this support across the country will help to ensure a strong response across the entirety of policing.”

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