Pioneering system launched to make communities safer

A new community engagement system enables multiple groups, agencies and individuals to tackle community problems.

Jul 31, 2008
By Paul Jacques
Stuart Cowan

A new community engagement system enables multiple groups, agencies and individuals to tackle community problems.

A crime management and community engagement system which has the ability to bring together the wider community and several crime reduction partnerships to tackle community problems, from environmental issues to crime and anti-social behaviour, is set to be introduced across the UK.

SIRCS – the Secure Incident Reporting Community Engagement System – has been exclusively developed by Suffolk-based NSEP, a community interest company which is a not-for-profit social enterprise set up in 2007. All the proceeds from SIRCS go towards helping and empowering local communities, vulnerable people and their families.

SIRCS is much more than just a powerful crime management system. It is designed to help communities effectively tackle problems from retail crime and anti-social behaviour to reporting on graffiti and other environmental issues.

It is a proven crime reduction tool, which enables the fast and easy identification of excluded persons, suspects and offenders. It provides for increased reporting of incidents and better communication between the public, partnerships, their members, crime and disorder reduction partnerships (CDRPs) and statutory organisations. It allows for the quick and easy recording and sharing of information on a range of issues, including theft, criminal damage, truancy, graffiti and fly tipping.

Gary Pettengell, founder of SIRCS, said: “One community has told us that SIRCS will change the way their street wardens work and one police inspector has said that officers on his public order vans will be able to access information about their Nightsafe scheme and excluded persons via SIRCS on their Blackberrys.

“It is this fast and easy identification of suspects and offenders that will make a difference to those on the front line tasked with tackling crime and disorder.

“Likewise, Neighbourhood Watch members and other persons within the local community can access SIRCS, enabling vulnerable people to quickly and effectively be made aware of missing persons, crimes or suspicious activities such as bogus callers in their local area.”

Secure access

SIRCS uses a secure network-based application that enables users to access it from anywhere they have the Internet, whether from work, home or even from a mobile phone.

NSEP’s research showed that systems run on virtual private networks (VPNs) were inflexible and had limited access. SIRCS enables users to be given different access permissions allowing a whole range of people and partnerships to use the same system through password-protected areas, encouraging maximum participation. Each system also comes with a built-in bespoke environmental section, which includes a graffiti and fly posting database.

SIRCS – which meets the eight data protection principles of good practice – has a security level equivalent to a bank’s card processing system. No software is installed on the user’s computer and no data is held on a computer or premises.

SIRCS enables administrators to set review dates and times when uploading information to the system. Images and data are automatically removed from the view of the end user and can then be dealt with in line with the partnerships data protection protocols.

For example, a review time of two hours can be set against a wanted person. After the expiry time, the image and information is automatically removed from view so that it can be reviewed and either deleted or made accessible to the authorised users again. Another example would be where a prolific offender is in court in two weeks’ time. A review date can be set to coincide with their court appearance. The administrators can then remove their details if the person receives a custodial sentence or set a new review date and time if they are released.

Mr Pettengell explained that SIRCS encourages community engagement and increases community intelligence. The

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