To receive an update on the Community Safety Partnership.
The Committee considered a report, set out at Agenda pages 21 to 38, which gave details of progress against the priorities established by the Community Safety Partnership.
Graham Ebers (WBC Deputy Chief Executive and Co-Chair of the Community Safety Partnership) attended the meeting to present the report and answer Member questions.
The report reminded Members that Community Safety Partnerships had been established with a statutory duty to implement a partnership strategy to reduce crime, substance misuse and anti-social behaviour. The Community Safety Strategy was informed by a strategic assessment of crime and disorder related needs in the local area.
The report gave details of progress relating to the current Community Safety Partnership priorities as follows:
Priority One: Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
The VAWG Strategy was designed to enable WBC to meet its statutory duties in relation, for example, to the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014. The main role of the Community Safety Partnership was to hold the Domestic Abuse Strategic Group to account in relation to delivery of the Domestic Abuse Strategy.
The Borough’s main domestic abuse service provider was Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA). BWA provided a range of services including outreach, a family support programme, one to one support for victims, a helpline and refuge provision. BWA also worked closely with Children’s Services to ensure that children at risk of domestic violence received support.
Priority Two: Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour, Harmful Misuse and Organised Crime
These issues were often interlinked and the priority aimed at preventing residents from exploitation and their involvement in anti-social behaviour and misuse escalating to involvement in serious organised crime.
The report stated that there had been growing concern about instances of anti-social behaviour across the Borough. The Community Safety Partnership and Thames Valley Police were working together to identify the causes through a Problem Solving Task Group. Neighbourhood Policing Teams had also launched initiatives aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour hotspots.
The report stated that, nationally and locally, rates of organised crime, specifically county line dealing, had impacted on the increased levels of crime in the area. The police had been proactive in addressing county line dealing through initiatives such as Operation Stronghold which reduced the risk from organised crime by reducing vulnerabilities and criminal opportunities.
Priority Three: Reduce and Prevent Exploitation and Address the Needs of Vulnerable Victims and Offenders
The report stated that the Police and Crime Commissioner had recognised that vulnerability of both victims and offenders had an impact on demand for police and other emergency services. Supporting victims, particularly repeat victims, improved their resilience whilst support for vulnerable offenders reduced the risk of them reoffending. Vulnerable offenders had more than average levels of substance misuse, physical and mental health needs and were more likely to have lower rates of engagement in education, employment and training.
Priority Four: Empower and Enable the Resilience of Local Communities
The report stated that the focus of this priority was the relationship with the wider community to reduce the fear of crime, improve community cohesion, build the relationship with the voluntary and community sector and support community engagement. Involve (the support organisation for voluntary, community and faith groups) would be working with the Neighbourhood Action Groups to progress this work across the Borough.
Graham Ebers also referred to the new Statutory Guidance (July 2018) which required stronger links with the work of the Local Safeguarding Children Board and new linkages with the Multi-agency Safeguarding Arrangements.
In the ensuing discussion Members raised the following points:
· Berkshire Women’s Aid (BWA) – had there been any cuts to funding for BWA? How was the effectiveness of BWA services measured?
· In relation to reports in the national press relating to the impact of austerity on community safety (e.g. the reduction in police numbers) were there any local trends emerging, such as the reported increase in anti-social behaviour?
· Substance abuse – successful completions in drug treatment. The report referred to a reduction in successful completions from 89% to 57% linked to the low number of young people engaging with Substance Misuse services. Members requested more information on the steps being taken to increase engagement and the number of successful completions in drug treatment.
· The tables on Pages 24 and 25 indicated an increase in Domestic Abuse repeat victimisation and an increase in domestic crimes involving children. At the same time, the number of cases discussed at MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences) was reducing. Members asked for clarification on the trends indicated in the tables and details of actions being undertaken to tackle any emerging issues.
· Reporting of Hate Incidents. In relation to the table on page 28 – Members asked for further information on the four Red indicators which showed a reduction in the number of incidents reported. Members also asked if there was any connection between Brexit and the number of reports of racist incidents.
· In relation to the table on page 29, Members asked for a breakdown of the incidents relating to violence against the person. Was there an increase in knife crime? Was there a link between the reduction in police numbers and the increase in specific incidents impacting on crime and the fear of crime?
· The report indicated a year on year increase of 9% in fly tipping incidents. What steps were being taken to tackle fly tipping? Graham Ebers reported that the new Localities model was improving local intelligence on issues such as fly tipping and the Council was using its legal powers to take enforcement action. Similarly the Council had strengthened its procedures to ensure a quick response to traveller incursions.
1) Graham Ebers be thanked for attending the meeting to answer Member questions;
2) the Community Safety Partnership update report be noted;
3) Graham Ebers provide detailed responses to the specific issues raised by Members at the meeting;
4) the Committee receive a further update on the Community Safety Partnership’s work at its meeting in March 2020.