Agenda item

Attendance by Superintendent Mark Housley

Following a request by Performance Monitoring Panel at its meeting on 27 January 2021, Superintendent Mark Housley will be in attendance to answer members questions.

Minutes:

 

Following the Crime and Disorder Partnership update to the Performance Monitoring Panel on 27 January 2021, Superintendent (Supt.) Mark Housley attended to answer Members’ questions.

 

Supt. Housley thanked members for the invitation to the meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel, and gave an overview of policing and crime figures in the area which included:

  • Confirmation of the Command Team relevant to South Holland: the local leader and operational contact was Nick Waters; the Chief Inspector for Boston and South Holland was Amy Whiffen; the Superintendent across the East was Mark Housley. 
  • Demand for emergency calls had increased.
  • Crime had decreased by 3.9% in South Holland due to impact of Covid which had forced the closures of town centre shops and night-time economies.
  • Violence had increased, particularly domestic abuse. The Supt. would investigate the reasons for the increase so issues could be dealt with earlier. Feedback would be given to the Panel when figures and trends were known.
  • The busiest times for police had been during the rush hour, around 5pm – not late evening as had often been perceived.
  • The response target time of twenty minutes had been considered reasonable for a rural area.
  • Stop searches were few and only carried out where intelligence had been received, not random.
  • Anti-social behaviour reports had reduced but it was acknowledged that this had been dependent on tolerance levels which was not controllable.
  • Theft of motor vehicles and vans had been linked to two ATM thefts in the area.
  • Burglaries had decreased.
  • Data relating to suspects under warrant and individuals bailed was shared.
  • The Supt. acknowledged that communication with victims of crime needed to improve.
  • Demographic data, such as unemployment statistics and population ages, had been considered when crime prevention strategies were planned. This had included work to protect residents from fraud and rogue trader activity. High unemployment rates were linked to crime, but these were low in both Holbeach and Spalding at 6% and 4.8% respectively. Areas of deprivation were challenging and demanded a higher proportion of resources.
  • The police strategy needed to be compatible with local ambitions.
  • A review of resources included: PCSO numbers; the instigation of a Rural Crime Action Team; Roads Policing Team; 30 additional officers.

 

Members thanked the Superintendent for the update and made the following comments:

  • Members questioned employment retention of police and whether the 20,000 recruited nationally would have made a positive impact.
    • Supt Housley replied that retention had been good and that leaver numbers were low outside of retirement. A benefit had been seen from the 1220 recruitments in the area.

 

  • Members commented that feedback from Parish Councils had highlighted there had been a lack of engagement from PCSOs in rural communities which impeded intelligence gathering and the exchange of information. PCSOs priorities were misplaced and had not been community based. How could this have been improved?
    • Supt. Housley acknowledged that engagement could have been improved. Strategies had been imposed rather than drawn from local needs which had been driven by measures to cope with austerity and funding cuts. There had been recent improvements in leadership – new Chief Officers - which valued partnership working and a wider engagement had been sought. The Superintendent would feedback comments and would report future actions taken to the Panel at a later meeting.

 

  • Members asked whether criminal reports were able to be made confidentially.
    • Supt. Housley confirmed that identification was protected however full disclosure would be preferred to assist investigations and prevent future criminal activity.

 

  • Members enquired whether a collaborative relationship had existed between Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire constabularies.
    • Supt Housley confirmed that this had been positive and that regional meetings had taken place.

 

  • Members commented that the police pilot scheme ‘World Café’ at Sutton Bridge had been positive.
    • Supt Housley responded that communities were key to social cohesion with police enforcement the last resort.

 

  • Members had been concerned that emergency calls had been answered by the Norfolk constabulary instead of Lincolnshire which had caused delays. This had been experienced in relation to hare coursing when an expeditious response had been critical. Members thanked Supt Housley for his work to reduce hare coursing in Lincolnshire.

 

  • Members were concerned about increased harassment experienced by councillors, especially female councillors, and that reports to police had not been taken seriously.
    • Supt Housley was concerned that harassment reports had not being taken seriously and thanked members for the feedback. Each incident should have been investigated.

 

  • Members thanked the police for the pilot scheme at Sutton Bridge but stated that youth anti-social behaviour had been observed when Parish meetings had taken place. A lack of police response had resulted in a hesitancy of reporting which in turn had distorted crime figures.
    • Supt. Housley confirmed that all reported crime had been recorded but they had been unable to respond where reports had not been made. Police and criminal justice could not provide all of the solutions and the importance of education needed to be recognised.

 

  • Anti-social behaviour had been a problem in every parish and members questioned whether the multi-agency approach to crime prevention had been successful.
    • Supt. Housley stated that the multi-agency approach had been successful however agency budget silos had hampered progress. Some models had worked well: the Youth Offending Service and Complex Families model had seen reductions in youth offending. Increased respect was needed.

 

  • Members asked what action had been taken with intelligence data provided to police regarding speeding blackspots. Lincolnshire speeding figures had been too high.
    • Supt. Housley responded that intelligence had informed plans and resources however enforcement had only prevented speeding when police had been present. Many speeders had been local residents and the solution had rested with education and engineering solutions.

 

  • Members asked how Members could assist the police in a positive way.
    • Supt. Housley responded that a greater understanding was needed from the public, politicians and MPs in relation to what could be achieved with the limited resources that had been available. Morale within the police force had been at a low point and support and appreciation was needed.

 

  • Members requested the opportunity to shadow police in order to obtain a better understanding of their work and challenges.
    • Supt. Housley welcomed this.

 

  • Members stated that hard-fought weight limits on roads had not been enforced. Members requested that police attended to observe the situation.
    • Supt. Housley agreed that the problem needed to be resolved however a police presence had not been realistic due to limited resources. Consideration of a different approach would be needed.

 

  • Members stated disappointment that PCSOs had not engaged with them in relation to speeding issues, even when this had been directly requested.
    • The Supt. acknowledged that improved performance management and community engagement had been needed and the resource challenge had been reiterated.

 

  • Members asked what initiatives the police had planned to put in place to protect South Holland’s ageing population from crime.
    • The Supt. confirmed that plans were yet to be confirmed but constructive engagement with family members would be included.

 

  • Members stated there had been confusion regarding roles and responsibilities of the police which had negatively impacted public perception. Communication with residents could have been improved and Parish Councils had been well-placed to assist.
    • Supt Housley agreed that improvements needed to be in place regarding communication and that continuous improvement had been an aspiration. Policing had changed and this had needed to be communicated better.

 

  • Members expressed their support for the police. The Mini Police programme was praised, and a positive response had been noted. Was this programme going to be reinstated?
    • The programme was halted due to Covid but had been reinstated. A positive impact had been noted with a reduction in crime, for example: education and engagement had limited demand for ‘legal highs’ and removed the market in some areas.

 

  • Members asked for clarification as to which emergency service the public should contact when an extortion attempt had taken place, such as gravel deposited on driveways.
    • Supt. Horsley confirmed that the public needed to contact the police by dialling 999 whenever they had experienced intimidating or threatening behaviour.

 

AGREED:

 

a)     That Supt. Housley be thanked for attending; and

 

b)    That improved communication and sharing of information between the Police, the Council and communities was required, and that Supt. Housley create a Community Safety workshop in due course which Members would be invited to attend.