Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Virtual Meetings - This meeting will be held virtually. Details of how to access the meeting on YouTube are contained in the meeting page, along with the agenda and papers.. View directions
Note: This meeting may be viewed on YouTube from 1.30pm by highlighting and opening the following link: https://youtu.be/li3O5Kkft8A
Apologies For Absence
To receive any apologies of absence.
The Chairman, Councillor CS McLean (Lead Member for Equalities, Cohesion & Society), welcomed all Committee Members to the first virtual meeting of the Council’s Crime & Disorder (Overview & Scrutiny) Committee via the remote Zoom platform, and confirmed that the proceedings were being screened live to the public via the YouTube link published on the Council’s website.
He welcomed the virtual participation of the Strategic Director (External Services), the EARS/CSU Manager, Community Safety Manager, DTAC Intelligence Manager and Community Safety Officer, and the virtual presence of the Democratic Services and Transformation Managers to co-ordinate the IT arrangements for the proceedings, and the Committee Co-ordinator to clerk the meeting.
He also welcomed and thanked the Dartford & Gravesham District Commander, and the Dartford CSU Inspector, for joining the remote proceedings via the secure Kent Police platform, and the Kent and Essex Police Prevent Officer [Organised Crime Group (OCG)], for also joining the remote proceedings to give his presentation [Min. No. 36 refers].
There were no apologies for absence, and at the suggestion of the Chairman, it was agreed that Members would introduce themselves as and when they spoke to contribute to the ensuing debate of the published agenda items.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members including the term(s) of any Grants of Dispensation issued by the Audit Board or Strategic Director (Internal Services).
There were no declarations of interest.
A Member sought an update on two items recorded in the Minutes and accepted the Chairman’s proposal that his queries be addressed under the relevant agenda items later in the proceedings.
1. That the Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 12 February 2020 be confirmed as an accurate record of those proceedings.
The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.
There were no urgent items for Members to consider.
To consider references from other Committees (if any)
There were no references from other Committees for Members to consider.
The Chairman advised Members that Inspector Gavin Wade (Kent Police) had completed his tour of duty as Dartford CSU & Bluewater Inspector, and requested that Inspector Wade’s considerable and valued contribution to the work of the CSU and at Bluewater in recent years be recorded in the Minutes, with the Committee’s thanks and best wishes for his new assignment.
He renewed his welcome to Inspector’s Wade’s successor, Insp. Sarah Rivett, Kent Police and wished her every success in her new role as Dartford CSU & Bluewater Inspector, and looked forward to working with her in the future.
The Chairman advised of one change to the published agenda proceedings: Item 9 - Performance - would be taken in closed session at the conclusion of the public proceedings, together with the report appendix [EXEMPT Item A].
To receive a presentation from Rob Slade, Prevent Officer (OCG), Kent and Essex Police.
The Committee received a PowerPoint presentation from Mr Rob Slade, Prevent Officer [Organised Crime Group], Serious Crime Directorate (SCG), Kent and Essex Police, which summarised the Europol Assessment of COVID-19 in terms of the impact of the pandemic on particular crime types and the measures authorities needed to take to combat those effects. Members had received copies of the presentation material in advance [Agenda Item 7 p.15-31 refer].
Rob Slade informed Members that his appointment as Prevent Officer [OCG] for Kent & Essex Police covered the key areas of cybercrime, fraud, organised criminal gangs and modern day slavery, not the Prevent counter-terrorism programme. His role was to educate and ensure good practice, drawing on the outcomes of the April 2020 Europol Conference on COVID-19 and input from the National Crime Agency (NCA), to provide an insight into effectively policing these major crime areas in the context of the Corona virus pandemic. He informed Members that serious and organised crime in the UK was an estimated £37 billion pound operation, involving 50,000 people in 427 mapped Organised Criminal Groups, with 30 operating in Kent.
He gave a verbal summary of his PowerPoint presentation to Members under the following three distinct phases of the pandemic:
· Phase 1: Current Situation – Lockdown
· Phase 2: Mid-Term – Easing of Lockdown
· Phase 3: Long-Term impact post Lockdown
Members also received detailed information regarding Cybercrime, Counterfeit and Substandard goods, Economic and financial crime, Drugs, Modern Slavery/Human Trafficking, Organised property crime and the resultant impact of COVID-19 on the UK economy (short and medium term) as set out in his presentation [agenda pages 19-31 specifically refer].
In concluding his presentation, Rob Slade summarised his role as Prevent Officer [OCG] in the Serious Crime Directorate as one of education and advocating good informed operating practices, to enable the Kent and Essex Police forces to ring-fence resources at the District level, to combat cyber and fraud crime and combat the operations of Gangs and Human Traffickers.
The Chairman thanked Mr Slade for a very comprehensive and detailed presentation, and invited Members to pose questions for his response and comment by the District Commander and the CSM as appropriate.
A Ward Member for Stone House expressed her particular concern over telephone fraud in her area. She praised the work of the police and banks in terms of follow-up action, but asked what measures could best be deployed to warn residents of such criminal activity before they fell victim to it.
Mr Slade advised Members that he knew from his previous role as a Kent Police Inspector, including service in Dartford, that Parish Council newsletters, and visits to homes by KCC Wardens and neighbourhood PCSOs were all measures that served to warn residents. Fraud warning leaflets were also issued by SOC panels who would work with local Councillors at the Ward level to combat fraud.
The CSM supported Mr Slade in his comments to Members over how best to warn their constituents to the dangers of telephone and other fraud activities targeted ... view the full minutes text for item 36.
To note the report and receive a presentation from the DTAC Intelligence Manager and comment accordingly.
The report from the Community Safety Manager (CSM) asked Members to note the progress that had been made by the Dartford Town against Crime (DTAC) scheme during the previous 12 months of its operation (1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020).
The report reminded Members that the DTAC scheme promoted the concept of a safe and secure Town Centre, and enabled partners to adopt a proactive approach, by allowing them to identify, target and focus on the most serious, prolific and professional criminals operating in Dartford, in addition to those engaged in petty crime and anti-social behaviour.
The DTAC scheme operated as a sub-group of both the Dartford Town Centre Partnership and the Dartford & Gravesham Community Safety Partnership; but with its own independent constitution, terms of reference, overseen by its Board of Management and active Steering Group. The DTAC Intelligence Manager co-ordinated the dissemination of information to promote activity that would result in action being taken against persistent offenders. The network of DTAC partners also facilitated the following measures:
The CSM also highlighted the importance of the ‘Shop Safe Stay Safe ID Scheme’ element to the DTAC operation, which gave vulnerable people a temporary safe place to go if they became confused, scared or upset, or faced an emergency when out and about in the Town Centre. Vulnerable people could include those with a learning or physical disability, had an illness or severe medical condition, or had simply become lost or confused. The ‘Shop Safe’ scheme had recently been re-launched following an overhaul during the preceding 12 months to make it compliant with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
The Committee then received a PowerPoint presentation from the DTAC Intelligence Manager [distributed to Members in advance] which outlined the achievements of and challenges for both Schemes during the period under review, in addition to a forward look at the opportunities that the ongoing regeneration of the Town Centre presented to the Partnership.
She advised Members that the presentation replicated the format and content of her 2019 submission to the Committee [Min. No. 9 refers], updated to reflect progress during the period under review, and the impact of COVID-19 under the following principal headings:
· DTAC - What is it?
· DTAC Managers role
· Benefits of DTAC membership
· Membership and COVID-19 Review
· DTAC Meetings, Board, AGM and Members;
· Shop Safe Scheme;
· Way Forward
The presentation slides gave the following detail for each heading listed above:
• DTAC had been developed in 2003 as the result of a combined partnership between local businesses, police, local authority, town centre management and other agencies.
• Managed by a ... view the full minutes text for item 37.
To consider the report and comment accordingly.
The covering report from the Community Safety Manager (CSM) enclosed for Members’ consideration [Appendix A to the report], the annual refresh document of the Dartford & Gravesham Community Safety Partnership’s, Community Safety Strategy (2019-22).
The covering report reminded Members that legislation required each Community Safety Partnership (CSP) to produce a Crime and Disorder Strategy which ran for a three year period, with an annual refresh in the intervening periods, and that the Strategy guided the work of the CSP’s partner agencies, and ensured that the focus on the CSP’s agreed priorities was maintained.
Those priorities were assessed on an annual basis through the CSP’s annual Strategic Assessment document, which provided the information and analysis of data, used to assess whether the stated priorities in the Crime & Disorder Strategy (2019-22) remained relevant. The CSP had considered its 2019 Strategic Assessment document at its meeting on 16 January 2020, and had incorporated the priorities identified in it, into the CSP’s Community Safety Plan (2019-2022), and agreed that those priorities remain unchanged. The Committee had considered the SA 2019 document at its meeting in February 2020 [Min. No. 28 refers] and noted the CSP’s decision to retain its current priorities.
Whilst the CSP had accepted that the priorities in its 2019-22 Community Safety Strategy remain unchanged, the Partnership had also accepted recommendations within the 2019 Strategic Assessment that, if achieved, would support the delivery of those stated priorities. The agreed recommendations were:
o Crime Data be made available at Ward Level
o Maintain Governance Structures
• Violence Crime and Domestic Abuse
o Understand disparity between MARAC and Violent Crime performance
• Persistent Anti-Social Behaviour and Environmental Crime
o Understand performance disparity between ASB performance
• Preventing Offending and Reducing Re-Offending
o Establish close working relationship with Violence Reduction Unit
• Protecting Vulnerable People
o Continuing to develop an understanding of the impact of the changing demography across the CSP area.
The CSM advised Members that progress against the recommendations listed above [report para 3.5, agenda p.39 also refers], had been impeded by the Corona virus pandemic. In particular, changes to the Kent Police database had meant that figures for ASB and crime at Ward level had not been available, preventing targeted responses by CSP partners in affected Wards. Figures for ASB at Ward level had recently become available, and it was hoped that crime figures at Ward level would soon be available too.
Members were reminded that Dartford and Gravesham formed the only joint CSP in the county, which gave the Partnership a unique opportunity to compare and contrast the effectiveness of policies to address crime and anti-social behaviour in each Borough over a number of key areas and plan accordingly. A new KCC strategy was focussed on the ‘contextual safeguarding’ for young adults outside the home environment in the context of gang membership and other elements of criminal exploitation, which parents could not directly control. The CSUs in each borough were forming Tactical Operation Groups (TOGs) with joint overarching ... view the full minutes text for item 38.
To note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 15 July 2020 to 30 November 2020.
1. That Members note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice [Forward Plan] for the period 15 July 2020 to 30 November 2020.
Kent & Medway Police and Crime Panel (PCP) Update;
The PCP meetings due to be held on 18 February and 18 June 2020 were subsequently cancelled.
The Committee received a verbal update from Councillor R J Wells (Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety), in his role as Dartford representative on the Kent & Medway Police & Crime Panel (PCP).
He confirmed that the February and June meetings of the PCP had been cancelled. The February meeting was, by tradition, held in reserve for a possible second budget meeting and often cancelled, and the June meeting had been cancelled following the Government lock-down measures announced to combat COVID-19. Given that the next meeting of the PCP was not scheduled until September 2020, he had requested an update on PCP activity from the PCC’s (Police and Crime Commissioner’s) Office, which had including the following key points:
· The Commissioner’s office and Kent Police had been able to maintain levels of service and a visible community police presence during lock-down;
· In line with Government guidance for all organisations, Kent Police had moved non-frontline functions to online and home working;
· Demands for services had been monitored, with a significant demand anticipated for victim support services, due to a backlog of court cases.
In terms of financial support for services to deal with short term income disruption, costs associated with changing working practices, and to address increases in demand during COVID-19 lockdown; a £25 million national fund had been set up by Government to combat Domestic Abuse (DA) and Sexual Violence (SV) services. Kent Police had received £625,000 of that national funding, half of which had been allocated to DA services already commissioned by Kent’s PCC. A further quarter was reserved for DA services due to be commissioned by the PCC, and the remaining quarter allocated to SV services, some of which were commissioned by the PCC and some not.
The Commissioner had also set up a local emergency fund of £100,000 for any commissioned services that had experienced difficulties during the Coronus virus pandemic period. Services could apply for grants up to £10,000 to cover reduced fundraising income, IT upgrades to provide services remotely, or to fund any new or increased services in specific response to COVID-19.
The PCC’s Office had also confirmed that the Commissioner’s initiative to form ten new Police Cadet Units in Kent, including a new Unit in Dartford [Min. No. 25 refers] was still proposed, but taking longer than expected due to deliver, due to a shortage of volunteer leaders. The position was open to anyone over the age of 18 and Members were asked to encourage any suitable residents in their Wards to consider applying. An online Cadet Leader’s recruitment event was planned for 5 August 2020 [full details on Kent Police website], for applicants to register interest, or ask for more information. The Cabinet Member undertook to forward the link to the Committee Clerk for Members information and further dissemination to identified residents, as appropriate.
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for his initiative in contacting the PCC’s Office and his consequent detailed verbal update to the Committee.
To note the report and Appendices (presented to the GAC on 27 July 2020) and to comment accordingly.
The covering report from the Committee Co-ordinator attached at Appendix A, a draft annual report document which summarised the work that had been undertaken by the Committee during the previous 2019/20 municipal year.
The parameters of the Committee’s work were governed by its Terms of Reference (ToRs), Protocol, and Memorandum of Understanding with the Dartford & Gravesham Community Safety Partnership (CSP). Copies of those documents were attached as Appendices B, C, and D respectively to the report.
The Chairman thanked the Committee Co-ordinator for his comprehensive draft 2019/20 annual report and appendices, his general support of the Committee during the period under review, and recommended the draft report to Members for approval as submitted.
He also thanked the Strategic Director (External Services) for her continued support and guidance to the Committee in the period under review, and all attending Community Safety Unit Officers for their reports to the Committee and attendance at meetings during the previous municipal year, to respond to Members’ questions and concerns.
1. That Members approve the draft 2019/20 Committee Annual Report (attached as Appendix A in the papers), for presentation to the General Assembly of the Council as submitted.
To receive a report and updated draft rolling Work Plan for the 2020-21 municipal year and beyond (report Appendix A) and comment accordingly.
Members noted the report and published Work Plan for 2020-21 and beyond as submitted by the Committee Co-ordinator [Appendix A to the report], and following discussion, requested that further topics be added to the submitted Plan with the guidance and approval of the Strategic Director (External Services), as follows:
· A presentation on Domestic Abuse Awareness from relevant CSP Partners (details to be confirmed);
· Update on Telephone Fraud [February 2020] to include Cyber and Internet Fraud (Kent Trading Standards);
· Presentation on the contribution of Environmental Health to tackling anti-social behaviour (Dartford/Sevenoaks Shared Service).
1. That Members note the contents of the Work Plan for 2020-21 and beyond (attached at Appendix A to the report);
2. That the current Work Plan be updated, in consultation with the Strategic Director (External Services), to include the additional items recorded above, as appropriate.
EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS & PUBLIC
The Chairman advised Members that under Section 100(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended); the virtual Committee proceedings would now go into closed session to consider the Dartford & Gravesham CSP Quarterly Performance report (July 2020), marked as Item A in the EXEMPT papers; and that the YouTube link relaying the proceedings to the public would now close.
The Chairman thanked all members of the public and press that may have been following the remote proceedings via YouTube, and advised that formal minutes of the proceedings would be published on the Council’s public website in due course.
Following confirmation from the relevant Officer that the public link to YouTube had been closed, the Committee’s proceedings continued in closed session.
Dartford & Gravesham CSP Quarterly Performance Report (July 2020)
The covering report from the Community Safety Manager (CSM) attached the July 2020 Quarterly Performance Report [EXEMPT agenda Item A] produced by the Dartford & Gravesham Community Safety Partnership (CSP). The report detailed performance in relation to levels of crime and anti-social behaviour and other indicators, and the progress made by CSP Partners to combat it, set within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report had been considered by the CSP at its meeting on 16 July 2020, and the Committee were asked to note its contents and comment accordingly.
Members were reminded that an obligation of confidence arose in relation to the Committee’s discussion of CSP Performance reports, in that the data they contained was provided to the Council on an ‘In-Confidence’ basis. As a consequence, the Committee proceedings had gone into closed session.
The CSM informed the Committee that the July 2020 Performance report [Item A EXEMPT papers refers] had specifically considered the CSP’s performance within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and been re-titled accordingly – ‘Performance, Progress and the Impact of Covid-19’. The format of the July 2020 performance report had also changed from the previous ‘rolling year basis’ format; to a ‘year on year’ comparison model for the months of April/May 2019 to April/May 2020; in order to better benchmark the effects of the pandemic on the levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in both Boroughs.
The July 2020 Performance report had also highlighted the way that the Dartford Community Safety Unit (CSU) had changed its priorities and re-configured its operational model, to maintain effective partnership working to better support the Council’s humanitarian response to COVID-19. The challenges in the period under review had been significant for both the Council’s CSU Team and Kent Police, but had also produced benefits in terms of possible new partnership working to take forward, once the current pandemic was fully under control.
The CSM gave Members a verbal summary of the key material and data from the EXEMPT papers and advised that the material had served to highlight the significant negative impact that the activities of Dartford’s night-time economy had previously had on the Borough’s crime figures. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Government’s lock-down measures [effectively closing the night-time economy]: the Borough had experienced significant reductions in the levels of violent crime (-22%), sex crimes (-34%) and a significant reduction in public disorder offences and burglary. This had contributed to a 22% reduction in overall crime in Dartford for the period April/May 2020 compared to April/May 2019. However, within those very positive figures, a significant increase in incidents of ASB (+154%) had been recorded in the Borough since the Government’s lock-down measures had come into effect. Kent Police had re-focused resources to tackle the ASB spike in Dartford, with the majority of incidents involving COVID-19 breaches in and from the home, and vehicle nuisance. The reduction in crime had given the police the opportunity to increase its levels of ... view the full minutes text for item 44.