Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) are under a duty to produce a Community Safety Plan to formulate and implement a strategy to reduce crime and disorder, combat substance misuse, and reduce re-offending. This report provides information on the proposed Plan, which forms part of the Council’s Policy Framework, to cover the period from 2020 to 2024.
A Diversity Impact Assessment has been carried out on the proposals set out in this report and is attached at Appendix 3 to the report.
The Chairman drew attention to a correction to the recommendations set out on page 25 of the agenda in that the Community Safety Plan would now be submitted to Cabinet on 7 July 2020 and to Council on 16 July 2020.
The Chairman of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) introduced the report and apologised for the late circulation of an updated proposed Community Safety Action Plan 2020 – 2021. This document had been circulated with additional sections highlighted for ease of reference.
He welcomed feedback on the Plan and reminded the Committee that the CSP would be attending the Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee in December 2020 to be held to account. In addition, he advised that work was currently in hand to reinstate the monthly Police surgeries.
The Committee considered the draft plan and action plan and the following were discussed:
In response, the Chairman of the CSP advised that the Partnership had decided not to include key performance indicators within the Plan or the Action Plan as issues were constantly changing. In addition, crime rate statistics were already in the public domain.
This view was supported by Acting Chief Inspector Burbeck and he requested that the Committee measure the Partnership on results rather than performance against targets.
The Chairman of the CSP agreed that it would be important for the CSP to be able to show areas of progress when attending the Committee in December 2020 to be held to account and he referred to rough sleepers and alcohol misuse as being examples whereby the CSP had led on initiatives which had proven results.
In response to the request for a table of results to be included in the December report when the CSP was held to account, the Chairman of the CSP agreed to ask the Community Safety and Enforcement Manager to take this on board.
In response, the Chairman of the CSP commented that provisions of the proposed Plan and Action Plan were sufficiently robust so as to cover the potential impact of the recent issues referred to without having to be specifically referenced. However, feedback was welcomed by the Partnership and therefore if, when the CSP was held to account in December, there was a view that adjustments were required, the CSP would be prepared to consider suggestions at that time.
Acting Chief Inspector Burbeck confirmed that those issues that were of concern prior to the COVID – 19 pandemic would still be of concern when life returned to normal and would likely continue for the next 2 – 3 years . Whilst incidents of domestic violence had increased slightly during the restricted lockdown period, this had now eased. In addition, he confirmed that the priority ‘listening to communities and partners’ was a key element of the action plan and he was confident that this was sufficiently robust.
Aeilish Geldenhuys – Head of Public Health referred to domestic abuse and confirmed that those services and provisions outlined in the Plan would continue after the COVID – 19 pandemic. In addition, she referred to specific work being carried out both in Kent and nationally for all age groups on the issue of mental health.
Paul Wilkins, Chief Nurse for Medway, DGS, Swale and West Kent CCGs advised that it was anticipated that there would be an increase in the level and type of mental health referrals as a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, it was likely that the way in which services were delivered would need to be reviewed but she was satisfied that the Plan covered such eventualities.
The Chairman of the CSP endorsed this and confirmed that the Task Force would soon be starting work in Gillingham North Ward but would continue to work in Luton Ward.
· Relationship between the new Community Safety Plan 2020 – 2024 and the former Plan for 2016 – 2020 – Concern was expressed that there did not appear to be continuity between the former Community Safety Plan covering the period 2016 – 2020 and the new Plan for 2020 – 2024 and it was suggested that the new plan include an additional paragraph setting out achievements, elements of the Plan where work was continuing and work being carried forward.
The Chairman of the CSP accepted that this would be helpful and agreed to take this suggestion forward for the future.
· Wording in the Community Safety Plan – Concern was expressed as to some of the terminology used in the Community Safety Plan and in response, the Chairman of the CSP made specific reference to domestic homicide reviews whereby it had been recognised that there was a need for practitioners to exercise curiosity and ask more probing questions.
· Support provided by the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Service for Vulnerable Adults - David Read, Group Manager from the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Service supported concerns raised that the Community Safety Plan did not fully reflect the support provided by the Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Service to vulnerable adults. He commented that this work had been challenging over the past few months as a result of the COVID – 19 pandemic and he confirmed that the Service was particularly involved with vulnerable people in care homes and community housing. He advised that he was new in post but looked forward to feeding into the work of the CSP.
· Crime statistics – In response to concerns as the increasing number of crimes in Medway, Acting Chief Inspector Burbeck informed the Committee that crime statistics had increased considerably in the past 4 years across Kent but stated that this was a direct result of the way in which crimes were now being recorded. He reminded the Committee that this had been the subject of discussion at previous meetings when the CSP had been held to account. He advised that under the former crime recording procedure, a crime would have been recorded once, but under the revised method of crime recording one criminal incident could involve as many as 4 – 5 different and separate crime reports. This change had resulted in a dramatic impact upon recorded crime statistics.
This change had been a challenge for Kent Police and therefore work was being undertaken to concentrate on those incidents regarded as being ‘high harm crimes’ so that these could be fed into the CSP and shared with partner agencies to identify vulnerable individuals. This was covered within the new Community Safety Plan.
· Gang Crime – In response to a request for information as to the current situation with gang crime in Medway, Acting Chief Inspector Burbeck advised that a Violence Reduction Unit had been established and that the Unit worked closely with the Medway Task Force and Youth Service.
He further advised that there were no recognised postcode gangs operating in Medway and two previous gangs ceased to be active following disruption by the Police and partner agencies. However, former members of those gangs who were not serving custodial sentences were still involved in criminal activity. He reassured the Committee that the Police and partners both inside and outside the CSP were committed to stopping youth violence and criminal activity, and asked for the assistance of the community in reporting any concerns.
· Population changes in Medway and incidence of drug use – In response to a question as to whether the Community Safety Plan reflected population growth in Medway through regeneration, Aeilish Geldenhuys, Head of Public Health confirmed that the work of the CSP was based on analytical data provided by officers.
Concerning incidence of drug use, Paula Wilkins, Chief Nurse for Medway, DGS, Swale and West Kent CCGs, advised that Medway had a population of older drug addicts but that deaths from within this group were not necessarily from drug overdoses but as a result of wider health related conditions resulting from drug use over a lengthy period of their lives.
· Community engagement – The Committee sought clarification on the wording of paragraph 2.16 of the report concerning the terminology ‘ensuring there is a systematic way of engaging with existing panels and groups’. It was confirmed that the CSP was committed to engaging on the Community Safety Plan with groups across Medway but if further clarification was required, this could be explained in more detail by the Community Safety and Enforcement Manager upon request.
· Consultation on the Community Safety Plan – In response to a question concerning consultation on the Plan, the Chairman of the CSP advised that had the March/April cycle of Council meetings not been disrupted due to the COVID – 19 pandemic, the Plan would have been considered by this Committee, Cabinet and Council at that time. He confirmed that the proposed plan had been shaped by previous consultation events and a further public consultation would be undertaken when it was safe to do so or by virtual means.
· Safe places for people with mental health conditions - In response to a question as to the future care of individuals with mental health issues who may be involved in crime and disorder, Acting Chief Inspector Burbeck informed the Committee that it was no longer permissible to use police custody suites as ‘safe places’ for people detained under the Mental Health Act unless they were already under arrest or posed a risk to the public. This had prompted the need to review how partners managed and supported people with mental health conditions involved in crime and disorder. This included paying greater attention to interventions aimed at preventing people reaching crisis point. He advised upon the availability of the ‘Safe Haven’ facility in Medway.
a) thanked the Community Safety Partnership for attending the meeting and answering questions on the Community Safety Plan 2020 – 2024.
b) suggested that the proposed 2020 – 2024 Plan would benefit from the provision of a bridging section between the 2016 and 2020 Plan and the current proposed Plan setting out successes and identifying areas that continued to require attention or improvement.
c) requested that future reports to this Committee include analytical data across the board, not just related to the COVID-19 pandemic and a results comparison to enable the Committee to undertaken meaningful scrutiny of the Community Safety Partnership.
d) noted that the proposed Community Safety Plan 2020 – 2024 would be considered by Cabinet on 7 July 2020 and be determined by Council on 16 July 2020.
In accordance with rule 12.6 of Chapter 4 of the Council’s Constitution, Councillors Curry and Andy Stamp requested that their abstention from voting be recorded.