Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) are under a duty to undertake an annual strategic assessment of crime and disorder in their area and formulate and implement a strategy to reduce crime and disorder, combat substance misuse, and reduce re-offending. This report presents the current strategic assessment and the Community Safety Plan to cover the period from 2016 to 2020.
The Chairman of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) introduced the report which presented the current Strategic Assessment and the Community Safety Plan covering the period from 2016 to 2020. He drew the Board’s attention to the update on five priorities of the Plan set out at paragraphs 4.15 to 4.25 of the report. He also explained to the Board that a Medway Task Force would be established as part of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Violence Reduction Challenge, details of which were set out at paragraphs 4.26 to 4.30 of the report.
By way of an update, it was added that the Task Force would be accommodated at Gun Wharf, the lead Sergeant had been appointed and the lead civilian officer would be in post imminently. It was expected that the Task Force would be in place by October 2019.
It was noted that the CSP had built a good working relationship with the London Borough of Islington and together they were undertaking a joint piece of work to understand county lines. In addition, the CSP had been able to shadow the Islington Integrated Gangs Unit, which was an established task force, to share lessons learned. It was explained that partnership working between many agencies and services was integral to the success of the Islington Integrated Gangs Unit and reference was made to the agencies that had already agreed to support Medway’s initiative, set out a paragraph 4.30 of the report. It was noted that the CSP would like other agencies to also be involved.
Members raised a number of points and questions, including:
Update on rough sleepers - In response to a question concerning the number of rough sleepers that had been re-housed, the Chairman of the CSP confirmed that approximately 65 rough sleepers had been re-housed. He explained that a number of rough sleepers had drug, alcohol or mental health problems and advised that the Council’s Housing Service now implemented a housing first policy, accompanied by a wraparound intensive programme to support these individuals.
Addressing Homelessness and Begging - The Chairman of the CSP explained that the CSP had worked with partners, including the Housing Service and the police, to reduce the number of people begging as well as the associated Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB). He added that he would like to engage with the Magistrates Courts to discuss options for restorative justice in preference to financial penalties.
Perception of safety - A Member emphasised the importance of local residents not only being safe but also feeling safe. Linked to this was a need to communicate the complexity of problems associated with homelessness, actions being undertaken and what members of the public could and should not do to assist. The Chairman of the CSP agreed that the perception of crime was most likely worse than the reality. Whilst it was recognised that crime had increased in Medway, it was explained that one single incident may generate more than one crime report, which might skew the data.
He added that the CSP had undertaken a series of engagement events with the community and in particular with young people. It was noted that engagement with the Medway Youth Council had been particularly useful and it was explained that they had produced a good report on how young people felt about crime in Medway. It was recognised that the CSP might need to explain more clearly how members of the public could engage with schemes to assist rough sleepers.
Task Force – A Member supported the creation of the Task Force and drew the Board’s attention to learning opportunities from Margate and a previous Medway task force which had focused on particular streets. He emphasised the importance of partnership working with the agencies outlined in paragraph 4.30 of the report, in addition to other agencies. In response, the Chairman of the CSP explained that Medway’s Task Force had been based on the experience from the Margate Task Force. The senior police officer in Kent, who was also the Divisional Commander in East Kent and of whom had worked with the Margate Task Force had assisted Medway with establishing its Task Force. It was noted that the emphasis of the Medway Task force would be different to that of Margate’s. It would focus on a wider geographical area, i.e. the whole of Medway, rather than defined wards. It would also focus on violent crime reduction.
Risk Management - A Member expressed concern that the risk ratings set out at section 6 of the report were ‘low’. The Chairman explained that all partners of the CSP were committed to engaging with the issues highlighted and had the necessary resources to do so and therefore, this was why the risk could be considered to be low.
Wards reporting ASB, crime statistics and repeat offenders - Asked about the correlation between these three areas, the Board was advised that there was a need for a strategic, cross agency approach. It was explained that the task group might elect to focus on the five wards set out on page 112 of the agenda.
The Health and Wellbeing Board:
a) noted the strategic assessment set out at Appendix 1 to the report;
b) noted the action plan set out at Appendix 3 to the report; and
c) noted that as a Policy Framework document the Community Safety Plan was adopted by Full Council on 21 July 2016.