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Community Impact Statements - Adult

Introduction

Summary

This revised guidance note describes the process for using community impact statements for adults. Separate guidance has been produced when using the community impact statements for young people(circulated to test area together with adult guidance). In response to the early findings of the initial evaluation of community impact statements, we have developed a revised framework in consultation with the courts and the key Criminal Justice authorities (complete list of stakeholders at Annex C). It provides general information about the scheme, its underlying purpose, the format and process involved for each agency when using the community impact statement and is designed to support those involved.

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Community Impact Statement

The following guidelines may only be applied to adult cases when using the community impact statement.

What is a Community Impact Statement?

A community impact statement is a short document illustrating the concerns and priorities of a specific community over a set time period. The statements will be compiled and owned by the police and be made in the form of a section 9 witness statement (Criminal Justice Act 1967). We have identified two different approaches for delivering community impact statements, either a generic or specific statement.

Option 1 - Generic

Generic statements contain information related to a range of offences and anti social behaviour (ASB) incidents that have been identified by the community as a local concern, including details of the harm and impact which that type of offence has had on that particular community. The generic statement is to be applied to a case where the offence or ASB committed matches the type of offences and/or ASB referred to in the statement. The same generic statement can be attached to numerous cases and the information within them will remain in existence for a set period after which it will be updated. (See example at Annex A.)

Option 2 - Specific

Specific statements contain information relating to a specific offence or ASB incident which has been identified by the community as a local concern. The statement will illustrate the impact and harm on the community arising from the specific offence/incident and will be applied to a case that involves the noted offence. (See example at Annex B.)

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Purpose

A community impact statement is intended to provide relevant and useful additional information about the impact crime and ASB or a particular incident is having on a particular community for all law enforcement officers. The intention is to enable better informed decisions that are made with the knowledge of the local context and can be used throughout the justice system. Such decisions may include charging decisions, sentencing, restorative justice and reparation interventions. The use of the community impact statement should not be confined to court proceedings, especially as the type of concerns raised by communities are often low level. The community impact statement may be used at various other stages in the justice process as noted in this guidance including out of court disposals such as cautions and restorative justice interventions.

Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) across England and Wales have a key role in identifying key local community safety priorities and ensuring the right partners come together to tackle the issues that are of most concern to particular neighbourhoods. The statutory responsible authorities are police, police authorities, fire and rescue, health, local authorities and from 1st April 2010, probation. CSPs carry out annual strategic assessments to identify local priorities and formulate a partnership plan to address those priorities including using resources flexibly to address the particular concerns of different neighbourhoods. Information and data shared by all the responsible authorities, and critically, input from the local community, provide essential input to the strategic assessment process. Some of this information may also be of use for developing community impact statements, which in turn can help inform partnership activity.

The community impact statement may be used in addition to an existing Victim Personal Statement. The community impact statement will only be applied at the discretion of the relevant authority.

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Aims, objectives, benefits, outcomes and added value

Background

This guidance has been produced in response to early findings from the initial evaluation on the original 12 community impact statement pilots.

Aim

The aim is to have an agreed framework for the use of community impact statements for decision makers, in their discretion.

Benefits

The community impact statement represents a unified cross agency approach to tackling local priorities and concerns. It provides decision makers with something tangible to demonstrate to communities that their concerns about crime and anti social behaviour have been recognised.

The community impact statement enables decision makers to be aware of local priority concerns on a regular basis.

The community impact statement formalises local information about crime and anti social behaviour for the use of decision makers, where such information may not be readily available.

The use of the community impact statement for specific incidents represents a targeted approach for the police in response to crime and anti social behaviour issues of local concern.

Objectives

The key objective of community impact statements is to provide a mechanism that gives the community a voice in the justice system as well as putting into context how the different types of crime and anti-social behaviour affect the community for decision makers.

The community impact statement may be used in the following ways:

(a) As a tool for police and CPS to inform the decision to charge a suspect with an offence, where relevant.

(b) As a tool used by the police and other local partners to inform restorative justice interventions that contribute towards amending the harm inflicted upon the community, where relevant.

(c) As a tool used by the police and CPS to inform decisions on possible conditions of a conditional caution.

(d) As a tool used by Probation Officers to inform their proposals for sentences, including community payback and reparation, as part of the pre-sentence report.

(e) As a tool for Community Safety Partnerships to inform activity to tackle issues raised by the community.

(f) As a tool used by the court to inform sentence.

Full details of the use of the community impact statement in court is illustrated in separate guidance for the judiciary at Annex F.

Added Value

The added value provided by the community impact statement is that it is a multi-functional tool. Its use across the justice system enables decision makers to tailor responses to the local issues it describes.

The community impact statement can also be used as a means to assess what measures could be taken to deter further issues of local concern.

There is currently no other method of conveying community concerns to law enforcement decision makers that provides the same degree of consistency, transparency and accountability and that is recognised by all law enforcement partners.

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Format of the community impact statement

Section 9 Witness Statement

The format of the community impact statement is a witness statement (made under section 9 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 and tendered under Part 27 of the Criminal Procedure Rules 2010) to ensure that it is provided in a formal and consistent manner, so that it is clear who has provided the information.

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Geographic Area

Each LCJB may decide the geographic area that the community impact statement may cover. We recommend targeting those areas that are particularly problematic or where you believe the community would benefit most from the community impact statement. The police are best placed to know this information and can help identify the areas to target. We recommend that the community impact statement cover a relatively small area to have a greater impact e.g. at Neighbourhood Police Team level.

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Who compiles the community impact statement?

The police, mainly neighbourhood policing teams, compile the community impact statement because of their role in engaging with the community as well as their immediate access to crime data. The police may use existing strategies to identify local priorities and discuss these with communities at meetings or other engagement forums (e.g. street briefings, individual interactions) to help inform the content of the community impact statement.

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Triggering the community impact statement

The production of either the generic or specific community impact statement can be triggered in a number of ways such as in response to community concerns raised at Neighbourhood Policing Team meetings. A useful way of triggering a community impact statement is by using the existing national policing process known as 'critical incident' management. A critical incident can be defined as any incident where the effectiveness of the police response is likely to have a significant impact on the confidence of the victim, their family and/or the community.

In the event of a critical incident, a 'community impact assessment' would be initiated which identifies the impact and range of counter measures to be implemented to reduce the risk of loss of confidence.

Following the community impact assessment, a community impact statement could be produced as one of the counter measures. It will be for the police to decide whether a generic or specific community impact statement is most appropriate.

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Community views

The community impact statement should reflect the community's concerns and priorities about crime and ASB. To gather this information we recommend the Neighbourhood Policing Teams obtain information on community priorities and concerns can be sought from a variety of existing community engagement activities such as Police and Communities Together (PACT) meetings, Safer Neighbourhood and Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) meetings. Through their statutory duties to engage local communities, the responsible authorities of CSPs will have access to information on the local community's priorities, gathered through their own, and the partnership's, community engagement processes and events, and which can help inform the community impact statement. The police are encouraged to engage with the CSPs to obtain more information about community views.

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Type of community impact statement

Based on the findings from the pilots, a community impact statement can be made in two contrasting formats:

1. Generic statement

2. Specific statement.

Generic statement

The generic community impact statement requires the police to consult with the community at the various local forums, such as NPT meetings and to assimilate their views about the impact different types of offences and ASB has had on them. The community's top priorities should be set out in the statement and when a case involving one of the priorities is commenced by the police, the impact statement will be attached to the case file. The generic statements do not relate to individual offences but decision makers can use them to put offences into the context in which they were committed and take into account the impact of that type of behaviour on the community. A named individual (i.e. the alleged offender) should not be included in the statement. Also, individual names of community members who have contributed to the community impact statement should not be included within the statement.

Specific statement

The specific community impact statement is prepared in a similar way to the generic statement, however the information it contains is based on a specific offence or ASB incident that has been identified by the community to be of local concern. The police are required to consult with the community and seek their concerns about the specific offence/incident, so as to establish the impact and harm it has had on them. The information would then be compiled on a statement and added to a case file that involves the noted offence. The statement does not, and must not relate to a named individual offender. Also, individual names of community members who have contributed to the community impact statement should not be included within the statement.

Civil Orders

There are a wide range of civil tools and powers to enable services to respond effectively to the ongoing and repetitive nature of anti-social behaviour, including acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs), dispersal orders or anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs). These are preventative tools which prohibit specific activities. By their nature they respond to local concerns and the impact of individuals' behaviour on the wider community. As a result, the production of a community impact statement is not required to inform these orders.

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Definition of a community

A community does not just have to be determined by geographic areas. A community can be defined as a group of people who interact and share certain characteristics, experiences or backgrounds, and/or are located in proximity to each other.

The following are some examples of the types of communities that are likely to be engaged as part of this work and should be clearly identified in a community impact statement under 'Community group affected' (see Annex A):

  • Geographical and physical communities - people living or working close to each other who share the same physical environment and amenities; e.g. villages, estates, neighbourhoods.
  • Communities of identity - people who share particular characteristics connected to their heritage, belief system or physical being that define their day-to-day lives; e.g. ethnic groups, religious groups, people with disabilities, children, older people.
  • Communities of interest - people with an identifiable need or interest which
    may cross other community 'boundaries'; e.g. support groups, sporting clubs or associations.

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Statistical information

To demonstrate the prevalence of an offence in a local area, the community impact statement must include statistics taken from crime recording systems controlled by local police forces. There needs to be comparison data in order to demonstrate prevalence and this must illustrate that local data on a particular type of crime is greater in number than the national data for the same type of crime. National data can be sought from the Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics department (RDS):

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds

The requirement for national data in order to evidence prevalence follows the judgment in the leading case of R v Lanham (Stephen) 2008, EWCA Crim 2450, reported in Criminal Law Review, Issue 2 2009.

Frequency

The frequency of the community impact statement should be agreed at the local level by the police in consultation with the LCJB.

We recommend that the generic community impact statement is updated at least on a quarterly basis or in line with local engagement activity.

The specific community impact statement is reactive and should be compiled in response to an individual offence/incident.

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Process for using the community impact statement

The following information sets out guidance for implementing the community impact statements for the: Police, CPS, Probation and Community Safety Partnerships.

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Police

Responsibility for the Community Impact Statement

(a) As part of their usual role, the police collect local recorded crime statistics, data on ASB incidents and organised neighbourhood policing meetings and attend community meetings. We therefore recommend that the police should be responsible for compiling the community impact statement.

Gathering Information from the community

(b) The police, in consultation with other local partners, gather statements from the community through their normal community engagement process, i.e. the Neighbourhood Policing Programme and as part of the Community Safety Partnership, such as at community meetings and on the beat (see Type of Community Impact Statement above for examples of community groups). Such engagement with the community will always be subject to the legislation governing equality and diversity, ensuring, where possible, that the diverse community groups are engaged. The community should also be encouraged to volunteer concerns to the police where appropriate and the police may facilitate this as part of their existing community engagement work. The police should use their professional, impartial judgment, to compile this information into a summary to be inserted into the community impact statement that accurately reflects the concerns of the community. The statement should illustrate in as much detail as possible, the full extent of the harm caused by the incident(s) identified by the community. Where available, statistical data describing the prevalence of the incident(s) may be included in the statement and must be presented in a format that demonstrates local data compared with national data. It is to be noted that such data on prevalence need not be included if the statement already includes sufficient information evidencing the harm caused by the incident on the community.

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Validating Community Impact Statements

(c) Once all the information has been gathered, a designated police officer, i.e. a neighbourhood policing team member, will consolidate the information, and we recommend identifying the top 3 concerns in the generic community impact statement (as suggested at Annex A.). The author must compile the statements with an independent and objective standpoint. The tone of the statement should not include any personal views of the author and must be in line with existing policy on equality and diversity. They should ensure that the general content of the statement could be admissible in court.

(d) Once the statement has been completed it should be signed by the police officer who completed the statement (i.e. Beat Manager). Once the community impact statement has been signed, a photocopy of the signed community impact statement can be inserted in the prosecution file.

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Managing Expectations

(e) When gathering community concerns for inclusion in the community impact statement, the police need to manage the community's expectations so they understand exactly how their views will be taken into account and how the statements will be used.

(f) Evidence shows that the information the public want from agencies tackling crime and anti-social behaviour is clear, factual information about what action is being taken to address their priorities and what happens to those who have been convicted of crime. Therefore, it is advised that communication about community impact statements should focus on what has happened as a result of the statement - for example that Community Payback activity is now focussed on addressing local concerns.

(g) It is important that the community are informed about why the community impact statement has been produced and what impact it can have on decisions, i.e. providing relevant information to inform public interest decisions or information to help assess harm. The police also need to explain that the community impact statement cannot be used to determine innocence or guilt. The community need to be reminded that the judiciary are independent and have judicial discretion when sentencing and that the community impact statement is just one of a number of factors considered by the court when sentencing. There should be no expectation that the existence, and use, of a community impact statement will mean that the defendant in question will receive a more severe sentence.

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When the community impact statement is relevant

(h) The generic community impact statement will be relevant to a prosecution case where the type of offence alleged to have been committed by the suspect has been referred to within the statement. Once this has been established the police should include the signed community impact statement as part of the prosecution case to be forwarded to the CPS. The specific community impact statement will be relevant to the specific offence it was based on.

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Police Charging Decision

(i) Where it is determined that the case is one which the police can make a charging decision without the need to automatically refer to the CPS (in accordance with guidance under section 37A Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984), the community impact statement can be used to assist them in making the decision as to whether or not it is in the public interest to charge the suspect.

(j) The community impact statement should not contain evidence relating to the case in hand and it should not therefore need to be considered when deciding on the sufficiency of evidence test. If the community impact statement does contain evidence in relation to the case, a witness statement may be made in the usual way by the person who can give that evidence.

(k) Following the completion of the community impact statement by the police and where they have made a charging decision, the community impact statement is to be forwarded to the relevant CPS office, either for a review of the police charging decision or for the CPS to commence their own charging process.

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Streamlining Process

(l) In conjunction with and as part of the streamlined process, the community impact statement should be accepted in the same manner as the victim personal statement, under paragraph 8.2 of the CPS Director's guidance on the streamlined process. Where the community impact statement is relevant, it may form part of the prosecution papers in the usual way.

"Other than victim personal statements, witness statements that need to be taken from non-police witnesses should be concise, covering only the essential points to prove. They may be recorded on proforma documents for ease of processing. Statements recorded in compliance with the requirements of section 9, Criminal Justice Act 1967 (CJA 1967) may be served on the defence for agreement if necessary."

Restorative Justice

(m) Where the incident is appropriate and where processes are available, the police are encouraged to apply restorative justice processes aimed at bringing victims, offenders and communities together to decide on a response to a particular crime and to hold offenders to account for their actions. The community impact statement may be used as part of this process to inform the offender of the impact their type of crime has had on the community as well as inform decisions made during the process.

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CPS

CPS Charging Decision

(n) The CPS will receive the prosecution case from the police in the usual way and the community impact statement will form part of the case if the police deem it relevant to the offence committed (for example, breach of an anti-social behaviour order). The CPS may then use the community impact statement to assist them in deciding if it is in the public interest to charge the suspect in accordance with the CPS Code for Prosecutors, (see paragraphs 4.7 - 4.12). Prosecutors should, in particular, consider the question at paragraph 4.12e) of the Code for Crown Prosecutors:

4.12e) What is the impact on the community?

The greater the impact of the offending on the community, the more likely it is that a prosecution will be required.

The community impact statement should not be used as part of the evidential test when deciding to charge a suspect.

Conditional Cautioning

(p) Where it is appropriate for the CPS to deal with a case by way of a conditional caution and the community impact statement forms part of the prosecution case, the CPS may use the community impact statement to assist them in deciding on the most appropriate conditions.

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Prosecution case

(q) Once the CPS have decided to charge the suspect the CPS are to keep the statement on the case file and disclose it to all parties to the case as part of the prosecution papers.

(r) On conviction, and before sentence, the prosecutor will draw the court's attention, where appropriate, to evidence of the impact of the offending on a community contained in the community impact statement.

CPS Direct

(s) The police should ensure that the community impact statement is included in the prosecution case sent to CPS Direct in the usual way.

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Probation

Note: that supplementary guidance for probation report writers accompanies this guidance at Annex G. 

Pre-Sentence Reports: Standard and Fast Delivery

(t) Where probation is required to produce a pre sentence report either in a standard delivery or fast delivery format, and where relevant, the community impact statement will form part of the prosecution papers that are forwarded to probation.

(u) The probation officer can use the local information within the community impact statement to assist them in proposing a sentence that is in line with the local context and addresses the harm that the offender has caused to the community i.e. through community payback. The probation officer should refer to the community impact statement in the report where it has informed their assessment.

(v) Once the report is completed, it is to be delivered to the bench in the usual way. If probation provide an oral report to the bench and have used the community impact statement, they should refer to it in the oral update.

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Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs)

(w) Where the incident(s) noted in the community impact statement are of an anti social behaviour nature and would not necessarily to be addressed via the criminal justice system, Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) can play an important role.

(x) Firstly, where ASB incidents have taken place, the police should compile a community impact statement in consultation with the CSP and other local crime and disorder partners. Secondly, CSPs and other local partners may also use the contents of the statement to tailor their response to local issues based on the local context. For example, where ASB by truants is a local concern, a partnership approach could involve arranging education events in schools or installing CCTV in hotspot areas. This information could be used to justify such action being taken and could also be used to support a bid to obtain funding to address similar matters.

(y) The police, in consultation with the CSP should record the instances where the CSP have used the CIS to respond to a local concern (see Annex D).

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Implementation issues

Feedback

The police, prosecutors, local authority, community justice virtual teams and other law enforcement practitioners are encouraged to find ways to feedback to the community regarding how the community impact statement has been used and what the outcomes were. For example, where the community impact statement has been used to highlight graffiti and due to its description in the statement arrangements were made locally for the graffiti to be removed, such an outcome should be fed back to the community. Existing mechanisms such as community meetings/forums, newsletters, leaflets or uploading information online can be used.

We encourage engagement with the LCJB as well as the CSP and local authority to explore whether there are any potential existing feedback mechanisms that could be used.

Where the community impact statement has been used in court, the results should be fed back to the Police by the CPS and thereafter the police should check the result provided by the CPS against the Police National Computer. This to ensure that the court entered result and the CPS result are the same before they are made public.

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Training

We recommend that the LCJB may remind areas about awareness training for the police, CPS, probation, and CSPs and any other local partners involved in implementing community impact statements. For example, the police are encouraged to make local training arrangements with the appropriate police team. The CPS is encouraged to make local training arrangements with their local CPS branch, supported by CPS nationally. Probation is encouraged to make local training arrangements with their local probation service, supported by the National Offender Management Service. It is anticipated that judicial training may be provided by the Judicial Studies Board.

Engaging the local defence community

Each area is encouraged to engage with their local defence community in order to inform them of the introduction of the community impact statement and to ensure they understand its purpose and how it will be used.

We suggest that the defence community could be informed through either an article in the LCJB newsletter or by attaching a standard letter about the community impact statement to the legal aid order forms.

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Local Governance

It is advised that local delivery of the CIS may be overseen by the LCJB with the implementation managed by the appropriate sub group of the LCJB.

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Data Collection Requirements

We have conducted an evaluation on the original 12 pilots. It reported that community impact statements are still in the early stages and that both its impact and take up were minimal. We will conduct a further assessment on the development of the statements following the production of this revised guidance. We aim to assess new matters, such as the usage of the specific statement, and the experiences of both the original 12 areas and the 30 pioneer areas will inform this assessment.

It will be the responsibility of each agency, supported by the local LCJB, to make the necessary arrangements to record specific data on the frequency of use of the community impact statement, on a monthly basis. For example, CPS will look to flag cases involving the community impact statement in their case management system and use to undertake dip sampling.

A spreadsheet has been developed at Annex D (a Microsoft Excel version is also available and will be provided separately). This data should be collected each month and forwarded to Consola Evans (Consola.Evans@justice.gsi.gov.uk) from the community impact statement national team.

To assist the assessment process, we will need to be able to identify those cases where a community impact statement has been used. Each agency, supported by the LCJB, should ensure that methods are in place to identify prosecution files where a community impact statement has been used. To assist this process, we have developed a 'Case Identifier' sheet (at Annex E) where each agency is required to record their use of the community impact statement. A Microsoft Excel version is also available and will be provided separately and should be attached to the prosecution case. This will also need to be returned to Consola Evans on a monthly basis.

We propose collecting feedback from key stakeholders involved in the community impact statement process to assess how it has been used, what the impact was and how effective it has been. Your assistance in this process would be hugely appreciated.

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Annex A

Generic Community Impact Statement Exemplar Template

Annex B

Specific Community Impact Statement Template

Community Impact Statement Template (CIS) - User Guide

User Guide

Annex C

Community Impact Statement Stakeholders

Annex D

Adult Community Impact Statement Data Collection Spreadsheet

Annex E

Adult Community Impact Statement Case Identifier

Annex F

Judicial Guidance to Courts on the use of Community Impact Statements for adults

Annex G

Probation Guidance for Report Writers

Annex H

Community Impact Statement Pilot Areas

Annex I

Generic Community Impact Statement - Application Process Map

Annex J

Specific Community Impact Statement - Application Process Map

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