Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Contact: Sheena Jones 

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No. Item


Welcome and Introductions

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The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.  The changes to the substantive membership were:


Sebastian Bowen had been appointed for Hereford Council and Peter Whatley was replacing Sarah Rouse for Malvern.


Named Substitutes

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Apologies and Declarations of Interest

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Apologies were received from Councillors Barry Durkin, Jabba Riaz, Peter Whatley and Michael Wood.


Declarations of interest were made as follows:


·         Julian Grubb was a retired Police Officer in receipt of a Police Pension (not West Mercia Police)

·         Steve Mackay was a retired Police Officer in receipt of a Police Pension (not West Mercia Police).


Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part (asking a question or making a statement) should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by email indicating both the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 9 September 2019).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number / email address listed below.

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Confirmation of the Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Panel meeting held on 18 June 2019.

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The Minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Serious and Organised Crime Strategy Consultation pdf icon PDF 108 KB

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The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) introduced the draft Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) Strategy and the PCC’s Policy Officer went on to explain the process that the Strategy had been through to date, this included:


·         the Consultation from 9 July - 15 August 2019 (including this Panel)

·         the publicity around it, via the PCC’s website, the West Mercia Police website, a press release to all media outlets across West Mercia, social media (Facebook and Twitter) and an email to key stakeholders and partners including: West Mercia Police, Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs), Serious and Organised Crime Joint Action Groups (SOCJAGs), Local Authorities, NHS, Public Health and Prisons & Probation.


The Panel was advised that one formal response to the Consultation was received during the consultation period. The response was submitted on behalf of Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and was welcomed by the PCC, who had responded to it accordingly. This meeting was a further opportunity for the Panel to provide the PCC with comments for consideration.


During the discussion, the following main points were made:


·         A Member suggested that if the Police were aware of where SOC Groups were operating, then it should follow that more criminals were apprehended. The Assistant Chief Constable advised that SOC was very complex and sometimes it was difficult to dismantle and disrupt activity as some groups were deep seated. However, when criminals were identified they were tackled

·         It was confirmed that the underlying theme of the Strategy was preventing the problem at source, this included looking at socio and demographic factors including school exclusions

·         The Strategy stated that almost 70% of Organised Crime Groups in operation in West Mercia were involved in the illicit drug trade. A Member questioned whether there was an awareness amongst recreational drug users of the knock-on impact of their drug use. The PCC explained that one of the recommendations related to drug awareness raising

·         It was reported that as part of the recent government spending round, the PCC welcomed the additional funding proposed for tackling crime and was pleased that it was a government priority. The detail would be available around mid-December

·         A Member expressed concern that the rate of re-offending for the SOC cohort was significant, with almost half of all serious and organised criminals re-offending within a year of release from custody.  The PCC was asked if the problem was insurmountable and explained that the policy was to deal with the problem at source and support the rehabilitation of criminals too

·         It was suggested that it would be helpful if the Strategy was monitored with a separate performance framework.  The Policy Officer confirmed that plans were in place for this and the framework would be put together over the next few weeks

·         It was further suggested that some of the recommendations should be strengthened to replace ‘could’ with ‘would’ or ‘will’.  The PCC agreed to take this suggestion forward

·         The rise in the number of cases of child sexual exploitation (CSE) was a worrying trend  ...  view the full minutes text for item 310.


Rural Crime pdf icon PDF 153 KB

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The Panel received a report summarising of the PCC’s work in relation to rural crime including the development of the Rural Crime Strategy and the outcome of the recent Facebook Live holding to account meeting on rural crime.  It also included an overview of rural crime data and examples of how rural crime issues were being addressed.


A copy of the draft Rural Crime Strategy was circulated to the Panel and comments were welcomed.  The draft Strategy was released for consultation in September and responses would be shared with the Panel at its November meeting.


The PCC’s strategic commitment to address rural crime was contained in the Safer West Mercia Plan.  Contained within the objective, Reassuring West Mercia’s Communities, the PCC stated that he would hold the Chief Constable to account for:


Making sure voices and priorities are heard and acted on from within our rural communities, via the Rural Matters plan to ensure their specific needs are addressed.


The PCC acknowledged that there was more work to do to improve the confidence in rural communities that if crime was reported, action would be taken. The increased numbers of police officers would impact all areas and all areas were policed.  The PCC advised that there needed to be clarity around how improvements were measured.


During the discussion, the following points were made:


·         A Member suggested that as part of improving the confidence of the rural communities, the Rural and Business Officers should meet with local councillors regularly and attend parish and town council meetings.  The PCC responded that this did happen

·         It was suggested speeding was a major problem for rural communities.  The PCC agreed that excess speeding caused harm and was anti-social in nature, but that resolving the issue involved partners working together and that the Police were part of the solution, not all of it. It was confirmed that speed limit reductions were a matter for the Council and the Police were consultees.

·         Almost 40 areas had a Community Speed Watch Scheme in West Mercia.  A Councillor questioned whether a permanent sign notifying that an area had a Community Speed Watch Scheme could be used in place of a mobile sign being used at the time that the Scheme was operating as this may encourage volunteers to participate.  The PCC agreed to look into the matter and report back

·         Speed Indicator Device Signs (SIDS) were very popular and effective at improving behaviour

·         Social media was very good vehicle for sending out messages to the farming community.


It was agreed that:


·         The results from the draft Rural Crime Strategy consultation would be shared with the Panel at its November meeting and the final Strategy would be shared with the Panel at its February 2020 meeting

·         The PCC would look into whether a permanent sign notifying that an area had a Community Speed Watch Scheme could be used in place of a mobile sign being used at the time that the Scheme was operating

·         Panel Members would contact the National  ...  view the full minutes text for item 311.


Victim Advice Line pdf icon PDF 160 KB

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The Panel had requested an update on the Victim Advice Line (VAL) which went live in April 2019.


The PCC advised that overall, he was pleased with the progress of the service and was confident that it was moving in the right direction, but there was still more to do. 


It was noted that referrals from the Force needed to improve along with the referral numbers going on to wider support providers, it would take time to re-configure workloads and the associated cultural changes required.


Police Crime Plan Activity and Performance Monitoring pdf icon PDF 304 KB

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The Panel was invited to consider the Police and Crime Plan Activity and Performance Monitoring Report for April-June 2019.


The PCC highlighted:


·         Criminal Justice Performance - for June 2019, the number of cases discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) stood at 9.6%, the 29th best performance in the country. Although the biggest factor accounting for discontinuance was a victim failing to attend/refusing to give evidence, West Mercia still had one of the highest success rates (89%) of victim and witnesses attending court

·         Digital roll out for Special Constables –The PCC had invested £250,000 in smart phones and body worn video for the 300 or so Special Constables in West Mercia

·         Strategic Alliance update – Negotiations with Warwickshire regarding future arrangements were continuing. A variety of offers of collaboration had been made to Warwickshire, responding to their concerns and requests.  Warwickshire had decided that long term they wished to stand alone but had stated that they needed West Mercia’s assistance to move to that state.  Negotiations were therefore centring on fixed-term collaborations on functions that required longer for Warwickshire to transition to a stand-alone position, thereby reducing West Mercia’s cost contribution.  All other functions would be separated out from 9 October. West Mercia would be in a position to stand alone from 9 October in every area.  There were benefits to West Mercia to collaborate in relation to some functions for longer, for example IT.  However, there were also potential disadvantages, particularly the potential for confused governance, inability to reform and disproportionate financial contributions that caused West Mercia to serve notice in relation to the current arrangements.  These risks were being addressed through the negotiations.


During the discussion, the following main points were made:


·         In response to a question about the success of Operation Snap (a facility for the public to submit digital footage showing potential traffic offences).  The ACC advised that it was successful but that he would provide the Panel with KPI’s

·         It was confirmed that there would be some vacancies for Special Constables, but the recent focus had been of filling Police Officer vacancies

·         Modern day slavery – The PCC confirmed that this was a regional priority and an area that the CC was held to account for, in addition to awareness raising

·         It was questioned why confidence in Telford and Wrekin had noticeably reduced.  The PCC advised that that sometimes confidence was affected by external forces but overall, he expected to see a steady improvement

·         It was noted that for the 8th consecutive month, Herefordshire’s child at risk performance volumes were above the monthly average. The monthly average had increased from 173 to 211 offences per month.  The PCC agreed to look into the reasons for this increase and report back to the Panel.


It was agreed that:


·         The Panel would be provided with performance information in respect of Operation Snap

·         The PCC would look at the reasons why for the 8th consecutive month, Herefordshire’s child at risk performance volumes were above the monthly average.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 313.


Panel Work Programme pdf icon PDF 77 KB

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The Panel considered and agreed its Work Programme as detailed in the Agenda.


It was agreed that the membership of the Budget Scrutiny Group for 2019-20 would be Councillors Bowen, Whatley, Grubb, Lavery and Mrs Clive (Lay Member of the Panel).