- Meeting of Crime and Disorder (Overview and Scrutiny) Committee, Wednesday 22 July 2015 7.00 pm (Item 9.)
To note the attached Performance report detailing crime statistics and public perception of anti-social behaviour (ASB) as discussed by the Dartford and Gravesham CSP on 11 June 2015.
The Committee received a performance update report from the Community Safety Officer (CSO). Enclosed at Appendix A to his update was the Performance Report produced by the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) detailing performance in relation to levels of crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) recorded in Dartford and Gravesham for the financial year period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015. The CSP report also compared the crime levels recorded in the period under review against anticipated levels of crime as provided by Kent Police. The CSP Performance Report had been discussed and approved by the Partnership on 11 June 2015 and was presented to the Committee for information.
The Community Safety Manager (CSM) reminded Members that, previously, performance had been calculated by comparing levels of crime and ASB for a twelve month period against those recorded for the previous corresponding 12 month period. However, this method had led to a target driven culture and performance was now calculated by comparing levels of crime and ASB for the previous financial year period, against an anticipated level for crime and ASB for the same period, as calculated by Kent Police based on the previous five years of recorded crime. Using this new comparative method, levels of crime and ASB in Dartford and Gravesham CSP had risen in comparative terms in nearly half of all crime types in the 2014-15 period under review. Conversely, Dartford & Gravesham’s performance as a CSP had actually improved slightly from 14th to 13th position, within its ‘Most Similar Group’ of CSPs [Appendix A agenda p. 19).
The CSP had debated at length, the increases in Dartford’s crime and ASB levels and questioned what could be done to improve the Borough’s position against other areas in Kent. It was noted that significant changes to the recording of crime by Kent Police, allied to changes in crime categorisation by the Home Office, in particular for ‘offences of violence’, formed part of the explanation if not the solution in the consideration of Dartford’s increased levels of crime and ASB in the period under review.
The CSM advised Members that Kent Police now had the highest level of accuracy for recording crime in England and Wales at over 96%, following an inspection of their previous crime recording procedures by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2013/14. As a consequence, Dartford’s and Gravesham’s figures for recorded crime and ASB had inevitably risen in the 2014-15 period under review and compared adversely with Kent Police’s estimated crime figures for the same period, based on crime data recorded in the 5 years prior to the HMIC inspection. However, the crime data for 2014-15 would provide an accurate base-line for the future calculation of estimated levels of crime and ASB for the CSP going forward. In this context; HMIC had inspected other Forces during 2014 (revealing crime recording accuracy levels as low as 82%). As those Forces adopted the same higher standard of recording practices as Kent Police (now known as the ‘Kent Test’) it was likely that similar increases in levels of crime would be experienced by those Forces and reflected in the performances of their CSPs, including in Dartford & Gravesham’s MSG.
Changes introduced by the Home Office (HO) to the classifications for certain crime types, in particular violence offences, were a further factor to be taken into consideration. The HO changes had impacted adversely on the figures for Dartford & Gravesham CSP producing significantly higher levels of violent crime than anticipated for 2014-15. The majority of violent offences fell in the violence against the person category with increases in Dartford ranging between 25% - 33% across the category. Domestic Abuse (DA) and violence committed during the hours of operation of the Night Time Economy had predominated. Positive news was a drop in the number of repeat victims of DA. A point to note was that not all newly categorised violent crimes necessarily involved violent acts.
The CSM also confirmed that crime figures for the Bluewater shopping complex continued to be counted within Dartford’s crime figures and impacted adversely on the Borough’s statistics as a whole. Similarly, the Northern Gateway transportation links into and through Dartford produced an enormous footfall for the Borough, the vast majority of which were not Dartford residents. Criminals passing through the Borough were difficult to apprehend and their activities equally difficult to predict and combat.
Members were advised that figures recorded for ASB now reflected actual reports made to Kent Police, rather than the public’s perception of ASB. Reducing levels of reported ASB was a key outcome for the Troubled Families programme and a number of the families making up Dartford’s cohort had been referred onto the Programme due to concerns over ASB. In response, Dartford CSU Officers, the Council’s Housing Services and Kent Police had co-operated effectively to address the complex needs of these families and combat ASB within the Borough. Dartford was one of the best performing areas in Kent in terms of the number of families where the Payment by Results (PbR) element of the Programme was successfully claimed by the local authority, due to reduced levels of anti-social behaviour in participating families.
In concluding his presentation, the CSM noted that the England and Wales Crime Survey (CSEW) of residents, conducted by the Office of National Statistics [published in October 2014] had shown an overall decrease in crime of 7%. Conversely, recording of crime reported to the 43 Police Forces in England and Wales plus the British Transport Police and relayed to the Home Office, had recorded an overall increase in crime of 3%.
The Chairman thanked the CSM for presenting the Performance Report and explaining the significant additional background to the subject matter for the Committee.
In response to specific questions from Members, the Strategic Director and the CSM, together with the Kent Police Divisional Commander and CSU Inspector, confirmed the following points:
· A comprehensive picture for ASB in Dartford was difficult to establish given the differing casework platforms employed to combat the issue by the Council and Kent Police and the risk of double counting cases across CSP partner agencies;
· Troubled Families Scheme: Phase I of the Scheme had identified 4,000 troubled families in Kent with 95 initially identified in Dartford. Subsequent CSU investigations had identified a total of 168 Troubled Families in Dartford of which 125 had been helped to successfully overcome their complex problems. There was no breakdown for incidents of ASB committed by members of Troubled Families. Phase II of the TF Scheme would concentrate on broader outcomes identifying between ‘Troubled’ and ‘Troublesome’ families with the latter more inclined to acts of ASB, including offences committed by adult members, which fell under the remit of the newly formed Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) for Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Demand for the Scheme in Dartford was estimated at some 300 families in the next 5 year period. There was no set time-scale for a family to become ‘Troubled’ and assessment was evidence based;
· The assessment and reporting of Violent Crime was a complex issue influenced by changes in Home Office re-classification for violence offenses and past Kent Police practices for recording crime which had all contributed to skewing the numbers in the period under review. Drilling down into the figures for Domestic Abuse (DA) and focussing on serious violence were identified priorities, with efforts concentrated in particular on the victims of such crime. No marked increase in street crime had been identified by Kent Police. However, in Dartford, the increasing number of patients with mental health issues prone to violence had impacted disproportionately on Dartford’s figures for incidents of violence against the person. The example was given of one such patient interacting ‘violently’ with a five nurse team resulting in 5 separate acts of violence being recorded in Dartford’s figures;
· Domestic Abuse (DA): There was a discussion about whether increased volume of domestic abuse was down to an increase in reporting or due to the ‘Kent Test’ being applied where incidents previously reported as violence against the person were reclassified as a domestic incident. The CSP view was that increased reporting equated to success, that people had more confidence in the Police and were thus more willing to report an incident. Two important indicators in this respect were the total of reports of DA, which had risen, and the number of repeat victims of DA which was down. This is believed to be attributable to the good work and successes of the Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) and the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs). The Domestic Abuse Forum chaired by the Council’s Housing Options Manager, brings together agencies from the statutory and voluntary sectors and coordinates a lot of work to tackle domestic abuse across Dartford and Gravesham;
· Police co-operation and intelligence sharing between North Kent and Bexley Heath had been formalised by the Divisional Commander in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with work being taken forward in working groups;
· The Strategic Director noted the significance of Dartford’s geographical position as a corridor Borough, situated between the Cinque Ports of Kent and the London Metropolitan area, and the continued adverse impact that cross-border crime [facilitated by the M25, M20, A2 and high-speed rail transport links] had on the Borough’s crime statistics. The attractions of the Bluewater complex with an estimated footfall of 28 million per annum were another significant factor in the Borough’s overall crime statistics and if added to the Borough’s population size of approximately 98,000 would significantly reduce the ‘crimes per 1,000 population’ figure for the Borough, especially for shoplifting and theft offences.
That the Committee note the contents of the Performance Report produced for and discussed by Dartford & Gravesham CSP at its meeting on 11 June 2015 relating to levels of crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) in Dartford and Gravesham for the period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015.
- Item 9 Performance.Covering Report.FINAL.22July2015, item 9. PDF 50 KB
- Item 9 - Appendix A - Performance Report, item 9. PDF 169 KB