Agenda item

Community Safety

Meeting as the Crime and Disorder Committee, to receive a presentation on, and to consider: the performance of the Community Safety Partnership in 2016-17; and the priorities in the Community Safety Plan for 2017-18.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed representatives of the Community Safety Partnership and Thames Valley Police (TVP) to the meeting of the Commission, in its capacity as the Crime and Disorder Committee.

 

Timothy Wheadon, Chairman of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) said that the partnership had sustained success over a number of years, but that there was no room for complacency. Close partnership working with TVP and engagement with other parties in the Borough were key. Over the past year there had been some increase in crimes reported, but this was a small increase compared to other areas. There were also some internal staff changes, with the Chief Officer: Housing taking over the role previously held by the Assistant Chief Executive and Alison O’Meara filling the Community Safety Manager role.

 

Ian Boswell, Community Safety Consultant, gave a presentation to the Commission on the Bracknell Forest Community Safety Partnership’s performance during 2016/17, and plans for 2017/18.

 

Nikki Ross, Assistant Chief Constable and Superintendent Shaun Virtue, the newly appointed Local Police Area Commander of Thames Valley Police were present at the meeting for this item.

 

The CSP was a statutory partnership which met four times a year, which was required to conduct an annual assessment of crime, anti social behaviour and substance misuse within the borough. Its work supported the Council’s Strategic Theme of ‘Strong, safe, supportive and self-reliant communities’.

 

The Partnership were required to publish a three year plan, which was updated annually, of how it intended to make the community safer. The plan had been refreshed for 2017 – 2019 to fit with the current council plan. There were four main priorities that the plan would focus on over this period.

 

The CSP received £152,740 grant funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner in 2016/17. The Community Safety Team was comprised of 4 Full Time Equivalent posts which included the Community Safety Manager. The Community Safety Team currently sat within the Chief Executive’s Office, but would be moving to Adult Social Care, Health and Housing. 

 

There were two themes and eight CSP priorities for 2016/17.

 

The key headlines arising from the presentation were:

 

  • Crime had fallen every year since 2008/09 but increased this year.
  • There were 4302 fewer victims of crime in 2016/17 than in 2006/07.
  • The Crime Survey of England and Wales 2016 showed that there was a constant fall in crime, however this data was not always comparable.
  • Within the similar family group, Bracknell had recorded the least number of crimes in the last 12 months. It was hard to compare against the other Thames Valley Boroughs as the areas were so different.
  • There had been a 5% reduction in sexual offences in 2016/17.
  • There had been a 5.4% reduction in possession of drugs offences. There had been a national drug operation in July 2016 which had issued 60 closure orders.
  • Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary had produced a report about how the police recorded crime, which had brought about changes in the way crimes were recorded.
  • The increase in crime in Bracknell Forest could be due to the increase in people in the Town Centre. This would be a challenge going forward as visitors to the Town Centre were likely to increase from 2.3 million a year to 12-15 million a year. Plans were in place with the local police.
  • The 2017 residents’ survey recorded that 11% of the public surveyed had said that the low level of crime was one of the best things about living in the Borough. 
  • There was a number of sub groups of the CSP, these included the Partnership Problem Solving Group which was new and would see through the transition period of the opening of the Lexicon over the next 7/8 months.
  • There were many joint operations planned for the school holidays to prepare for the Town Centre opening. Previous work had been undertaken in the Easter holidays and May half term.
  • All businesses in the Town Centre from the 7 September 2017, would have to sign up to Bracknell Businesses Against Crime initiative and be required to have a radio system, which would allow for better information sharing across the businesses.
  • Westgrove Security would be providing security in the Town Centre, they would be uniformed and were currently undergoing accreditation by TVP.
  • The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 listed that the local authority was a statutory partner.
  • Risk assessments had stated that Bracknell Forest was a low risk area for acts of terrorism.
  • There was a Prevent Steering Group which met three times a year.
  • Channel Panels were set up to mitigate the risk of racialisation. There had been two referrals in the past year, one had been a young, vulnerable person in the care system who had caused radicalisation concerns. The Panel had worked closely with the individual to mitigate the risks which had been successful.

 

Arsing from the Members’ comments and questions, the following points were made:

 

  • The people working on site in Bracknell Town Centre had been included in the Town Centre footfall as there had been a number of tools and equipment stolen from site as well as thefts from vans. This did not explain all the increase in crime as there did not seem to be one reason.
  • The exact number of Westgrove Security staff was currently unknown, there would be an assessment of needs to determine what scheme was required.
  • Premises opening at night would require their own security not just police response, subject to strict licensing regulations.
  • The night time economy would bring a different footfall. The Neighbourhood Inspector and Ian Boswell were working through a programme to set the tone, reliance and police visibility.
  • The Town Centre management had been mindful in their choice of night time establishments.
  • The Chief Constable would decide the powers delegated to Westgrove Security.
  • There was a balance between being visible at night time as often an increased number of visible Police Officers caused more issues. The Police were very experienced and hoped that Members would trust their approach.
  • The Security firm would be accredited, vetted and trained. Their powers would include being able to issue fixed penalty tickets, but they would not be able to arrest offenders. There was a similar arrangement at the Oracle, Reading where the Security team were very good at building a rapport with the public, recognising flash points and doing prevention work.
  • The Police were aware of the anti social behaviour which had increased in local car parks. This was one of the Neighbourhood Team’s priorities and they would be introducing education programmes and focusing on public areas in the summer holidays. This would be a long term engagement and would depend upon the resources and capacity within the team.
  • Concerns were raised that there was also an issue of anti social behaviour in the car park at South Hill Park.

 

Nikki Ross, Assistant Chief Constable at TVP updated the Commission on the changes within the new operating model.

 

Changes had been introduced for front line policing. This had been implemented on the 1 June 2017, and was now in week five of the new system. TVP were ensuring that the change was seamless to the public even though it may not be behind the scenes.

 

The changes had allowed for the Police to model demand against resources for the first time. As well as working on a triage basis within contact centres to determine over a number of questions what had happened and whether the police needed to attend or another agency. This allowed for the police to only attend if necessary and ensure that the right team or agency was sent out at the first time of contact.

 

There was a new TVP structure which had three different teams, this would be circulated to the Commission.

 

These were:

Response

Investigation Hub

Neighbourhood Team

 

The colocation of the teams would be different throughout towns and Boroughs, and the size of the Neighbourhood Team would be smaller but dedicated solely to neighbourhood issues rather than used for response, which was what often happened previously.

 

There were also changes for back office staff with process changes and different systems which would all take time to bed in. Demand had increased over the last month due to the terror attacks in London and a murder investigation in Oxford. This increase was the same across the Country.

 

The Assistant Chief Constable commented that partnership working in Bracknell Forest was incredibly strong and made a significant difference. This was not replicated across all of the other sixteen locations within Thames Valley.

 

As a result of the Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • When demand was back to normal focus would be on bedding in the new system. On the hot weekend in June the police had received more telephone calls than they did on New Years Eves. This spike needed to be investigated to understand the reason why.
  • The new system would be reviewed at three and six months and phase two being implemented after these reviews which would introduce more technology.
  • The new operational model had been developed by process evolution technology and demand matrix to ensure the correct staffing levels locally. The number of Officers had not decreased and was the same as the previous year. The new model allowed for officers to be on duty at the time of need not when nothing was happening. This would be reviewed in September and also annually to ensure staffing levels were correct, but it was no longer guesswork. 
  • The Police Point in Crowthorne would be placed in the Fire Station to ensure there was still an accessible point, which was a priority. It would be operated by the Neighbourhood Team as the Police Station had previously.
  • The way the police manged and dealt with lost property had changed as the service was not value for money and often storage was an issue.
  • All areas had retained their Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) but would need to be smarter about visibility making sure that they target certain areas at key times.
  • Comments were made that a PCSO had attended an event at The Pines School and was very engaging and had done a really good job.
  • Volunteers allowed for a better service to be provided in the Police Points. There were often more volunteers in the Sandhurst Police Point then people using it as the public used other means to contact the police.
  • There was no desecration over recording court diversion outcomes within Youth Offences. Even if division was the outcome this would still be recorded. There had been no increase in youth offences.

 

The Chairman thanked all those who had contributed to the item. He commented that the most important message was that Town Centre policing and safety commenced on the right footing from the start as it would be easier than having to correct the approach later down the line. He wished TVP good luck in embedding the new model and looked forward to future updates.