Thames Valley Police Chief Constable, John Campbell will be attending the meeting with Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber to deliver a presentation on the work of Thames Valley Police over the last year.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Matt Barber; Chief Constable, John Campbell and Deputy LPA Commander - Acting Chief Inspector Helen Kenny attended the meeting to provide an update on local policing issues and crime figures within Bracknell Forest.
In response to a question relating to multiple concerns regarding police presence in Crowthorne the Chief Constable confirmed he was not happy with what was described. In relation to attending Neighbourhood Action Group meetings it was clarified that this was a recognised duty when PCSOs are on shift and explanation was given that the issue arose due to the shift pattern of the PCSO. It was reported that the community room at the Crowthorne Fire Station was still being used but at the request of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service the police office was not accessed to allow them more space to achieve social distancing. Neighbourhood officers use mobile devices to stay connected rather than regularly returning to a police point, the effectiveness of Police points were regularly reviewed by the estates team. Acting Chief Inspector Kenny confirmed she would contact Cllr Mrs McKenzie-Boyle to discuss these issues further with the Crowthorne Parish clerk.
A question was raised regarding whether installing additional speed cameras would reduce reported issues of speeding and increased noise from cars and what the criteria were for installation. Requirements for where to install cameras had increased and were focused on the risk of harm and traffic incidents. Superintendent Kenny advised that police resources were targeted where there was a risk of harm so consideration as given to the road environment, speed and collision data as well as local concerns. This issue was on the neighbourhood team’s radar and work was ongoing within local partnerships to work together with other specialists to find solutions. The Police and Crime Commissioner added that there was an opportunity for issues to be escalated from community speedwatch to roads policing unit and he was looking to improve the links between them. He concluded that they were awaiting the outcome of pilots into new technology for noise cameras and average speed cameras before assessing if these were the right solutions for Bracknell Forest.
It was queried about expectations of the police, maintaining confidence in the force in relation to drug dealing when people report incidences. It was requested that communities were kept informed on action that was taking place to encourage them to continue to provide local intelligence. It was acknowledged that there were sometimes operations which could not be shared but the Chief Constable agreed that the communication loop needed to be closed. Acting Chief Inspector Kenny would follow up on the concerns raised about the gap in communication but updated the meeting in activity that had been conducted related to drug issues in the area. Two geographic neighbourhood teams had been forced which meant that each area had more officers on shift with four police officers and 11 or 12 PCSOs which gives more resources to address the intelligence that was reported. Targeted operations were undertaken to counter County Lines issues as risk of harm was significant and exploitative. She acknowledged that due to the way that calls were handled it was tricky for the officers to respond directly to individuals providing intelligence. Local dashboards will collate information and give opportunity for local response and feedback was noted.
Concerns were raised about attendance at anti-social incidents such as car meets, the time it took for neighbourhood police to respond to local councillors and the police presence in Bracknell as well as their attendance at noisy vehicle meets. Councillors were encouraged to escalate issues with response times to the Superintendent Felicity Parker. Acting Chief Inspector Kenny was pleased to report that the previous recruitment commitment had been exceeded and 31 additional officers were working in the area. She explained that she had changed the structure of response teams which meant that one third of the response team was brought back to work directly out of Bracknell again. This equated to one sergeant and eight police constables back in the Bracknell area. The restructure of the neighbourhood team, as explained in an earlier response, aimed to get more problem-solving and community focused officers on duty at the same time to be able to respond to known issues including alignment with Wokingham shift patterns. The Chief Constable responded that priority was given to responding to incidents were there was a risk of harm rather than noisy cars although recognised as a frustration for local residents. Acting Chief Inspector Kenny added that the focus was on preventing incidents using intelligence gathered. The police were looking at a partnership problem-solving approach across both Bracknell and Wokingham to work with organisations such as supermarket security to develop a consistent approach across the borough. In relation to conviction figures related to vehicle gatherings the participants were not always committing a criminal offence, but Section 59 legislation had been used as an effective preventative tool as warnings were given and participants wanted to avoid seizure of their vehicle.
An update was sought on the progress made to address anti-social behaviour by young people in parks and open spaces. In response to specific information relating to incidents in Sandhurst and Crowthorne and the threat of the use of weapons dispersal notices were issued including the use of Section 60 notice and successfully worked with partners to undertake stop searches. Acting Chief Inspector Kenny advised that further reflection on the approach towards youth ASB had lead to pilot operations to adopt a problem-solving approach to understand the root cause of the issue, the individuals involved and the risk factors affecting them.
In response to a question regarding action being taken on the misuse of electric scooters it was acknowledged that there was mixed messaging about them as some local authorities were encouraging their use due to the environmental benefits and this also divided opinion in communities. A successful operation had been run in the Lexicon to initially give a warning and then later seize the vehicle if the offence was repeated.
The Mayor requested that questions that had not been submitted in advance of the meeting be collated and would be responded to in writing. The Mayor thanked the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Constable and Acting Chief Inspector for their attendance and informative presentations.