In this age of austerity, the question on the lips of many partnerships is - "What will happen to our money next year?"
Places have been used to having percentage reductions in grant funding year-on-year - the Community Safety Fund has dropped by 60% over the past two years, making community safety the most-cut part of the public sector - but the introduction of the PCC will see a sea change in the way central government funding is allocated to tackling crime and disorder.
Back in New Labour days, there were any number of funding streams coming into partnerships, often ring-fenced to tackle specific issues. But the advent of localism means that "ring-fencing" is a banned word at Marsham Street now (unless it's followed by "removed"), and a PCC will have, from April 2013, a single unringfenced community safety pot with which to commission the services they see as important to the local area. From 2014, this pot will be subsumed into the main police grant, and PCCs can commission out of that if they wish (or not).
As we understand it, various funding streams will cease at the end of March 2013. We already know this will happen to the Community Safety Fund and the Youth Crime & Substance Misuse Fund (which used to go to YOTs and went to Police Authorities this time round), and we are fairly confident we can add to that list victim's services funding, DIP main grant, Positive Futures and Drug Testing in Custody. From April 2013 the PCC will be given a single Community Safety Grant.
The task, then, for CSPs, is to identify the risks in all of this. What is the likely impact if a PCC chooses not to fund particular initiatives? For me, the most high-risk has to be DIP funding. The DIP main grant generally makes up about a third of local DIP contributions (the rest coming from DH), and in future the Director of Public Health will have that money; but there's no guarantees that a PCC will choose to invest in drug intervention services. Given cuts to police budgets, would it be more politically popular for a PCC to use that money to backfill, say, neighbourhood policing roles?
The job of the CSP (or the DAAT, or the DPH, or a combination!) will be to highlight to a PCC - hell, to prospective PCCs - what the risks are by following this course of action. We know that the majority of the acquisitive crime in this country is caused by a small number of persistent offenders who more often than not have drug addiction issues. By removing a third of the funding we will be able to treat less people effectively and hence offending rates may (will) rise. Can we set this case out clearly to a PCC? There will be many organisations clamouring for the PCC's attention, all with a similarly powerful story to tell - how do we ensure the PCC sees the sensible course of action?
As I see it, there will need to be a coming together of analysts and communicators. Analysts will need to provide the evidence base; comms professionals will need to tell the tale. CSPs will need to start thinking right now about how they can lobby hard to candidates and, in the fullness of time, to PCCs, to ensure that all the good work of the past few decades isn't undone for the sake of populism.