The annual Crime and Disorder ‘Face the Public’ meeting takes place a week today and I’m currently trying to sort out the presentation for it. The more I think about it the more I realise it’s one of those public meetings that can we can so easily get wrong, turning what should be a useful and interesting evening into a rather turgid and overlong night out for all concerned.

We are required to hold it every year to present the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership’s proposed priorities for the years ahead. We can then take on board any comments before the priorities are finalised. But the problem is that the priorities are proposed after a fairly lengthy of analysis of crime and disorder in the borough over the past year (and beyond).

To convey all the work in a short(ish) public meeting is impossible. I tried last year, providing a lot of statistical and mapping data, but looking through the presentation again I cannot imagine what possible use anyone gained from it: it was simply too much data for people to take in. And this is before you start considering the evidence behind things that aren’t proposed priorities – very often why you choose not to concentrate on something is as important, or even more important, than why you chose the other things.

To complicate matters even further, the very top level priorities are a bit motherhood and apple pie. You can almost boil it all down to just a statement ‘we want less crime’. It’s the underlying issues and the the associated action plans that make the difference, but there simply isn’t enough time to cover all the work of all the partners involved.

It’s a balancing act – providing enough information that it’s useful in someway, without overloading people.

My current intention is to try and illustrate the links between the very high level priorities and what that means for local residents: so the high level priority on acquisitive crime, for example, results in initiatives like burglary aftercare on the ground.

But I thought I would try and ask people what they would want to see (no obligation to attend) from such a presentation. I did it last year on Twitter and got a lot of useful feedback, even though not all of it could be incorporated, so I’m going to try again on a wider scale. If you have any thoughts then leave a comment, drop me an email or a tweet.

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