Community Safety Officer

The Job and What's Involved

Community safety officers design and co-ordinate projects to reduce crime and disorder in a given area.

They respond to specific problems affecting a neighbourhood. For instance, they might suggest:

  • Installing better locks on tenants' doors on a housing estate hit by high crime levels.
  • Making a car park safer by introducing security measures such as better lighting.
  • Providing sports and social events targeted at young people who are hanging around the streets.
  • Working with schools to combat a spate of bullying.

Raising awareness and gaining support from local people is critical to the job. Whilst employed by one agency - usually a local council - community safety officers also work closely with the police and with community and voluntary groups. They may also have regular meetings with senior council members and MP's.

Daily tasks might include:

  • Responding to crime and safety concerns raised by local residents, councillors and agencies.
  • Consulting and advising on community safety policies and initiatives.
  • Overseeing projects.
  • Attending meetings with partner agencies, and with groups such as tenants' associations and Neighbourhood Watch.
  • Helping to prepare bids for external funding for new community safety initiatives.
  • Evaluating the progress made by safety projects, and writing reports.

Post holders usually report to a community safety manager. Small councils may have a team of two or three officers. In bigger organisations, community safety officers may be responsible for a specific aspect, such as combating anti-social behaviour, racist abuse or domestic violence.

Community safety officers normally work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. However, they may need to attend regular evening meetings. Flexitime or time off in lieu is usually available. There may be opportunities for part-time work and job sharing.

From an office base, officers make frequent visits within the local area to attend meetings and liaise with local people.

Salaries for new entrants start from around £18,000 a year.
After some experience, earnings may rise to £25,000.

Those promoted to management positions can earn up to £40,000, while heads of service and senior managers can earn over £50,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Community safety officers are employed by local authorities. There are also posts in free-standing agencies, and charities such as Crime Concern.

Some officers are part of a local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP), where the council links with local emergency services, NHS bodies, youth organisations and probation teams.

Vacancies are listed on local councils' websites and job bulletins; in local and national newspapers; on the National Community Safety Network (NCSN)'s jobs website; and on lgjobs.com, the local government recruitment website.

Education and Training

There are no set qualifications for this type of work. Community safety officers come from a range of different backgrounds and employers' requirements vary.

Alongside academic qualifications, employers may seek people with experience in related work, such as probation, social work or youth and community work. Experience in a project management role, involving collaborative working with different departments or agencies, can also be an asset. For specialist roles, employers seek experience in fields such as CCTV, combating anti-social behaviour or domestic violence.

The Diploma in society, health and development may be useful for this area of work. Community justice is one of the sectors covered, together with health, adult social care and the children's workforce. The Diploma explores the skills of problem solving, team working and communication, which are required to succeed in this type of work. The Diploma in public services, available from 2010, may also be relevant.

Some employers may look for A levels, BTEC National Diploma qualifications or similar. Others require qualifications to degree level or equivalent. Subjects that may be useful include community justice, community studies, criminology and sociology. As a guide, the minimum requirements for a degree course are usually two A levels or equivalent, and five GCSE's (A*-C), normally including English and maths. However entry requirements vary widely so you should check with individual universities and colleges.

It may help to seek some work experience in a community safety team, or in another area of local authority work.

It may be possible to become a community safety support worker or assistant by taking the Advanced Apprenticeship in community justice. No specific qualifications are required, but some employers require applicants to be at least 18.

To work with children or vulnerable adults, you need to undergo checks through the Criminal Records Bureau.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Community safety officers train on the job. Most employers support study towards qualifications, including NVQ's in:

  • Community justice: community safety & crime reduction at Levels 3 and 4.
  • Community development work at Levels 2, 3 and 4.
  • Youth justice services at Levels 3 and 4.

The Advanced Apprenticeship in community justice takes 18 months to two years to complete. It includes a work-based assessment for the NVQ in community justice at Level 3. Topics include inter-agency working, and engaging and consulting with communities.

The NCSN offers short courses, seminars and networking opportunities.

It may be possible to study part time for a foundation degree in crime and community safety, or a related subject.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Community safety officers must be:

  • Excellent communicators, verbally and in writing.
  • Adept at organising and running projects.
  • Diplomatic and tactful.
  • Enthusiastic.
  • Good at negotiating with others and influencing them.
  • Resilient.
  • Cool under pressure.

Your Long Term Prospects

After gaining experience in a Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership, community safety officers may gain promotion to team leader roles, and may become partnership directors or heads of service.

It is possible to move into management in social services or the voluntary or private sectors.

Get Further Information

Community Development Foundation (CDF),
Unit 5, Angel Gate, 320-326 City Road, London EC1V2PT
Tel: 020 7833 1772
Website: www.cdf.org.uk

Skills for Justice, Centre Court, Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ
Tel: 0114 261 1499
Website: www.skillsforjustice.com

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