Report of the Director of Neighbourhoods and Development attached.
The Leader of the Council (Councillor Paul Foster), the Director of Neighbourhoods and Development (Jennifer Mullin) and the Chief Inspector of Lancashire Police (Gary Crowe) presented a report on the Community Safety Partnership to the Committee and responded to members’ comments and queries.
The Community Safety Partnership is a statutory body made up of representatives from local authorities, the police, fire and rescue authorities and health and probation services. Members were informed that South Ribble Borough Council works collaboratively with Chorley Council within the Community Safety Partnership but that this is not a formal arrangement.
In response to queries around the statistics on violence against a person offences and the delay in this information being available, members were informed that this was largely due to technical issues. The data would be available in the week following the meeting and would be shared with members.
Although it was highlighted that South Ribble is a safe area in comparison to others across the county, members were informed that the key priorities of the Partnership included anti-social behaviour, serious and organised crime, and vulnerabilities including domestic violence, hate crime and substance abuse.
These priorities are listed within the Community Safety Partnership Plan which is created using statistics from the police survey and from responses relating to fear and opinions of crime in the ‘Living in Lancashire’ survey. Consultation on this had also been undertaken through a Strategic Assessment which provides specialised data on long-term issues and threats. Members queried this and asked that more detailed information on the data be shared with them. The Community Safety Plan was also requested.
Surveys form part of the consultation on community safety. Lancashire County Council consults with their partner agencies and the police before surveys are distributed. Crimes are then ranked based on data and a crime severity score in order to identify priority areas.
The use and effectiveness of CCTV in preventing and detecting crime was queried. CCTV was acknowledged as being invaluable as a deterrent to casual criminals and anti-social behaviour. There is also an evidential value of CCTV in that it can link suspects to crimes based on their location and thereby reduces deniability.
Members queried the new neighbourhood policing model which had come into effect in March 2019. Under this, South Ribble had gained four new task force constables and an emergency response team were now based in the borough. Members compared South Ribble, which shares a Chief Inspector with Chorley, with West Lancashire which is similar in density to South Ribble but has their own Chief Inspector. Assurances were provided that the allocation of Chief Inspectors is based on need and not geographic size.
In response to discussion on community engagement and crime, examples such as the ‘Coffee with a Cop’ scheme which is held in McDonalds in Leyland were provided to demonstrate the methods used to engage with residents. Emphasis was placed on preventing crime by young people, which is often tackled through diversionary tactics as utilised in the Kingsfold area of Penwortham over the summer which was acknowledged as a success.
A key line of enquiry focussed on the prevention of domestic violence. The council provides an annual financial contribution of £7000 to the independent domestic violence advocates service and members were pleased that this contribution would continue in future years.
Members were informed that an increase in statistics on domestic violence offences meant that more victims felt confident enough to report the crime. It was acknowledged that there is an educational element to reducing domestic violence and that this can be achieved through publicising the convictions of perpetrators.
The report highlighted a number of groups which support the reduction of crime, including Operation Genga, the South Ribble Integrated Team and the Anti-Social Behaviour County Group. These groups are made up of a great amount of officers and resources and are subject to a success criteria.
Brief discussion was given to the relationship between My Neighbourhood Forums and the Community Safety Partnership. A good relationship was acknowledged between the two and the Forums can work collaboratively with the Partnership by reporting any issues they may have in their area. Neighbourhood Policing Teams regularly work with parish councils in their area and keep them informed of any issues and progress made.
Members requested further information on crime hotspots within the borough.
A report would be provided to the Cabinet in November which would outline proposals for diversionary activities in an effort to prevent people, particularly youth, turning to crime.
It was acknowledged that the Scrutiny Committee can help the Community Safety Partnership by giving suggestions for focus areas and key issues and by reporting any concerns they may have in their areas.
1. the Committee looks forward to receiving further information on ‘violence against person’ offences.
2. the Committee welcomes the offer of being provided with a copy of the Community Safety Partnership Plan and requests that future reports include progress on the Plan.
3. the Committee thanks the Chief Inspector for the offer to outline the police’s approach to targeting and problem-solving to members of the Council.
4. the Partnership looks at how more preventative measures can be put in place with partners.
5. the Committee welcomes the Leader’s reassurance that the Council would continue to contribute to the Independent Domestic Violence Advocates Service.
6. the Partnership considers raising awareness of community safety issues with parents as well as young people.
7. the Committee requests more detailed information on the data used for the strategic assessment.
8. further information on crime hotspots within the borough be circulated to committee members.