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Crime prevention charity Bobby Van to close due to police cuts

Published in News at 09:00, Tuesday March 27th, 2012.

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A crime prevention charity which visits elderly and vulnerable people to help make their homes safer is to close due to a lack of funding.

South Wales Bobby Van – which began life as Gwent Bobby Van in 1998 – has made more than 40,000 home security visits fitting burglar alarms, locks and door chains.

The charity is to close at the end of this month after Gwent Police withdrew £76,000 of grant funding for 2012/13 Safer Newport Partnership ended its yearly contribution of £20,000 last year in addition to Monmouthshire Community Safety Partnership.

The service costs £150,000 a year to run.

Tony Curtis, chairman of the charity’s trustees, said: “If a police and crime commissioner was in place today I am convinced that Gwent Police would have not withdrawn the funding of the charity for 2012/2013.

“Additionally, the work we are undertaking across the 12 unitary authority areas of South Wales in a Welsh Government sponsored project to support the victims of domestic violence would emphasise how regional collaboration is key to developing better public services in Wales, and this would not be lost on the commissioners.

“The Welsh Government is now actively working towards the deployment of additional 500 PCSOs, and this investment should be matched by the police to support collaboration with the third sector, particularly as charities such as ours provide a responsive, cost-effective and quality service to the needs of families who are victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

“These are the tie-ins to the regional agenda that we expect the commissioners to be making.”

The charity has also claimed that Gwent Police has begun a tendering process for a new service to replace Bobby Van but that it had not been invited to tender.

In a statement it said: “Gwent Police are the largest funder of commissioned services. They announced the withdrawal of the £76k of grant funding in October 2011 and then circulated a letter to all Community Safety Partnerships informing them of the withdrawal of support for the charity.

“This caused uncertainty amongst existing and potential commissioners of service. The announcement in October gave the charity little time to develop options for funding in 2012/13, and as the financial plan for the forthcoming year is set in October, the trustees had to make a decision to seek a solvent dissolution of the charity.

“The charity had been informed of a potential tender process which may not be available until June 2012. It transpires that the tender process was instigated in February 2012, however the charity was never invited to tender and the notice of redundancies etc. had already been issued. The charity had no guarantees that it was able to apply for a commercial tender, and if it did, and was not successful then this would not have provided an appropriate solvent dissolution of the charity.

“The withdrawal of funding by the Gwent Police would also have led to withdrawal of the infrastructure support provided and in effect the charity would loose its administrative support as well as accommodation. The Trustees understand that the tender is for circa £50,000 which would have delivered an equivalent 675 visits by the Bobby Van. The trustees hope that the same level of efficiency can be maintained, although they suspect the business model will deliver less for more.”

A spokesman for Gwent Police said: “Gwent Police is just one of several parties who have supported the South Wales Bobby Van with funding to enable victims of crime and other vulnerable people to receive a security service. As the funding has increased over time the force found itself in a position where it was necessary to enter into a competitive tendering process in line with procurement guidelines. Like other public services Gwent Police needs to ensure that we get best value in the way we spend public money.

“The South Wales Bobby Van continues to supply services as the contract expires on March 31. The new provider, pending security checks, will be in place by April 2. Gwent Police is committed to protecting victims of crime and will focus on continuing a service aimed at those most at risk of harm.”

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