Islington Council refuses to provide details of ‘fundamental’ change to anti-crime services

Islington Council Leader Richard Watts. Photograph: Islington Council

Details of a “fundamental” change to public services aimed at stopping people turning to a life of crime are being kept quiet by Islington Council.

Richard Watts, the leader of the council, recently announced a massive overhaul of “prevention and early intervention” services meant to address social problems which can fuel crime.

However, when asked by the Islington Citizen for some basic information on what this will involve, both the council and the leader’s office refused to say.

At the council’s annual meeting on 24 May, Cllr Richard Watts said: “Our borough has more than its fair share of social problems.

“I’ve set us the objective of being the best council in the country at prevention and early intervention in some of those problems.

“Because too often public services seem arranged around the convenience of those delivering them, not around recognising that people have got a whole range of challenges and opportunities and strengths in their life, and it’s our job to support them in all of those, not just one at a time.

“And over the next few months we are going to set out a fundamental programme of changing the way this council does its business in order to do that.”

The Islington Citizen asked the council what these changes will involve, who will be in charge of them, when they will happen, and how much they will cost.

A council spokesperson said: “As you’ve noted, Cllr Watts says that the programme of changes will be set out over the next few months, so do keep an eye out for future announcements.

“We’ve nothing further to add at this time.”

When Council Leader Watts was contacted directly, his spokesperson said: “I’m afraid we don’t have much more to add on this at this stage, but our manifesto does give a good flavour of the sorts of things we are talking about – particularly around early intervention and prevention.”

Islington Labour Party’s manifesto for the 3 May local elections says the council “will continue to invest an additional £1 million” to fund mentors and case workers, counselling, training, and help into education and jobs.

But it does not lay out “a fundamental programme” changing how prevention and early intervention services are managed, as described by Cllr Watts on 24 May.

Cllr Watts’s spokesperson also suggested that some more information on these changes will be included in the council’s “updated Corporate Plan”, which will be considered at the next full council meeting, on 5 July.