Agenda and draft minutes

Crime and Disorder (Overview and Scrutiny) Committee - Wednesday 12 February 2020 7.00 pm

No. Item


Apologies For Absence

To receive any apologies of absence.


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Managing Director.


There were declarations of interest.


Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 24 July 2019 pdf icon PDF 342 KB




1.    That the Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 24 July 2019 be confirmed as accurate.


Urgent Items

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 are no references from other Committees at present.


There were no references from other Committees for Members to consider.


Chairman's Update


The Chairman reminded Members, particularly those new to the Committee who were attending proceedings for the first time, that the Committee’s principal role was to act as ‘critical friend’ to the Dartford & Gravesham Community Safety Partnership, in their work to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.  In practical terms, this meant developing good working relationships with the Council’s Community Safety Unit team, and with Inspector Gavin Wade and his Dartford Community Police team.


His experience both as Committee Chairman, and previously as Lead Member for Enforcement, was that both the CSU team and Kent Police appreciated Members’ input on matters of particular concern to them and their residents. He encouraged all Members to bring their concerns to the attention of both teams, on an individual basis as Ward Councillors, and via the Committee’s meetings.



Regulation 9 Notice pdf icon PDF 201 KB

To note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 15 January 2020 to 31 May 2020.




1.    That Members note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 15 January 2020 to 31 May 2020.


Kent Police and Crime Panel (PCP) Update pdf icon PDF 248 KB

To receive an update from the Council’s PCP representative Councillor R J Wells (Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety), and to note the draft Minutes of the Panel meeting held on 24 September 2019.


Members received a verbal update from the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety regarding discussion at the Kent Police and Crime Panel (PCP) meeting held on 6 February 2020, which he had attended in his role as Dartford representative.


PCP Members had discussed and agreed the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC’s) Plan, Associated Budget and Precept proposals for 2020/21, including approval of a proposed increase in the policing precept amounting to £10 per year or 5.2% increase in council tax on Band D properties. The measure would increase funding for Kent Police by an estimated £8.4M p.a. and be used by the PCC to:


·         Recruit 36 new PCSOs across Kent to help tackle crime in 21 identified ‘hotspots’;

·         100 more police staff;

·         147 more police officers in year 1;

·         a further 34 police officers in year 2 (by 31 March 2021) bringing Kent Police officer numbers up to its highest recorded level.


Panel discussion had also focussed on ‘County Lines’ activity across Kent, whereby young children and adolescents are directed and/or driven to other Counties and the Metropolis to deliver drugs. The Panel had agreed unanimously to support all/any measures to educate children to the dangers of participating in such activities, including the funding of more Youth Engagement officers to visit schools.


The PCC had also announced a new initiative for the formation of 10 new Police Cadet Units in Kent for 13-17 year olds, with one Unit to be located in Dartford. The Police Cadet curriculum focussed on team work and leadership skills, and prioritised engagement with vulnerable adolescents, and those who had already come into contact with the criminal justice system. Cadet Units were run on a voluntary basis and required venues for their activities.


The Cabinet Portfolio Holder had asked to be kept informed regarding the proposed Police Cadet Unit for Dartford and asked Members to consider possible locations in the Borough for its operation. Two initial suggestions from Members were Darenth Parish Council Hall and the Community Hall on the Tree Estate.


The District Commander added that he was aware of a further PCC initiative for a Mini Cadet Scheme for 10-13 year olds, and hoped to provide further details for the Committee when they became available later in the year.


In response to an expression of concern from a Member, the District Commander advised that proposed savings by Kent Police of some £9M would not impact on front-line policing. Savings would be achieved through improved partnership working in back-office functions across Kent, including economies of scale in procurement through the bulk purchasing of vehicles, equipment and uniforms.


The Chairman and Members thanked the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for his verbal update and noted the contents of the Minutes of the PCP meeting on 24 September 2019, as submitted in the agenda papers.




1.    That Members note the summary of discussion provided by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, regarding proceedings at the Kent Police and Crime Panel (PCP) meeting held on 6 February 2020,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Public Misuse of Nitrous Oxide Canisters pdf icon PDF 358 KB

To receive an update from the Community Safety Manager, CSU and Kent Police.


The report from the Community Safety Manager (CSM) updated Members on the current situation and implications, regarding the use of nitrous oxide (NO) as a psychoactive substance across the Borough. A map detailing ‘hotspots’ in Dartford where spent nitrous oxide canisters were repeatedly dumped, was attached as Appendix A to the report.


The CSM highlighted the following principal points for Members:


·         Nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) was a substance with a number of legitimate uses in medicine and catering;

·         When inhaled nitrous oxide could make users feel euphoric and relaxed, with some users reporting hallucinations, and was used recreationally in a number of settings primarily amongst 16-24 year olds in clubs, private residences, parks and car parks;

·         Possession of nitrous oxide was not an offence, but the supply or offer to supply the substance to another, for other than legitimate uses was an offence, under Section 5 of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, but difficult to prove (see below).


The CSM said that he appreciated Members’ concerns over the misuse of nitrous oxide as a psychoactive substance by certain sections of the public in Dartford. In particular, the unsightly dumping of spent nitrous oxide canisters which impacted significantly on the public’s perception of safety within an area; defined as a ‘signal’ crime - any criminal incident that causes a change in the public’s behaviour and/or beliefs about their security.


He advised Members that the recreational misuse of nitrous oxide presented challenges to three main agencies:


·         Public Health (PH): in relation to the potentially harmful effects of the substance for recreational users. PH had been invited to send a representative to attend the proceedings to provide information on the number of A&E admissions that could be attributed to nitrous oxide ingestion. They had been unable to do so but had provided some general information. This possibly indicated the low level of concern PH held over the issue at both national and local level;

·         Police: nitrous oxide could put users at risk, but the effects of nitrous oxide inhalation to the person only lasted some 30 seconds, with traces of the substance leaving the body after 10 minutes. This made it very difficult for police officers to prove impairment, e.g. in relation to driving a motor vehicle. Possession of nitrous oxide was not an offence, and the offence of ‘supply or offering to supply [nitrous oxide] as a psychoactive substance to another person’ was difficult to prove, given that most purchases were web-based.  As a consequence, the response of the Police to 111 and 999 calls from the public regarding misuse of NO had to be prioritised against the need to deploy police resources to tackle crime;

·         The Council: in terms of littering through the discarding of spent NO canisters by misusers, seen by many communities as being associated with criminal activity (see ‘signal crime’ above).


Given this background, the Council had identified litter enforcement as the most effective weapon to combat the current fashion in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.




In accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), the Committee went into closed session to consider the contents of the CSP’s Strategic Assessment 2019 document [EXEMP Item A], which had been provided to the Committee on an ‘In-Confidence’ basis.


It was confirmed that no members of the press or public were present.


Dartford and Gravesham Community Safety Partnership (CSP) Strategic Assessment 2019 pdf icon PDF 179 KB

To consider the 2019 Strategic Assessment as presented to the CSP at their meeting on 16 January 2020 [Item A in the EXEMPT papers]


The covering report from the Community Safety Manager (CSM) asked Members to note the priorities identified in the SA 2019 document as adopted by the CSP at their meeting on 16 January 2020, and their incorporation into the Partnership’s Community Safety Plan (2019-2022) at that meeting.


In addition to the agenda papers Members received a PowerPoint presentation from the CSM which summarised the key elements of the comprehensive SA 2019 document, including details of comparative performance between the two Boroughs across a range of crime-types on an annual basis, and how those performances compared to that of the County as a whole.


The CSM informed Members that earlier changes to crime categories introduced by the Home Office had now been in force for some 24 months, and that an annual comparative performance exercise was now relevant and worthwhile.  It was not yet possible to say that the data for the 12 month period under review (1 October 2018 to 30 September 2019) had identified definite trends in crime categories, but the data had indicated ‘spikes’ in certain crime-types. Further annual comparison exercises would be required to establish whether present ‘’spikes’ in certain crimes had developed into trends.


The presentation summarised the 2019 SA document under the following categories:


Key Priorities


·         Tacking Violent Crime including Domestic Abuse (DA)

·         Tackling Persistent Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) and Environmental Crime

·         Preventing Offending and Reducing Re-offending

·         Protecting Vulnerable People and Strengthening Communities


Performance Summary


Members were referred to comparative tables in the presentation which summarised Performance in each Borough and Kent as a whole, under 12 key crime-types on an annual basis. Changes in performance for each Borough and the County were indicated by green, red or blue arrows which represented an improvement, deterioration or no change in performance respectively, for each crime-type. The CSM and District Commander explained the data and context for Members information.


A SWOT [Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats] analysis was provided to Members based on the data that was recorded within the 2019 Strategic Assessment process.




The recommendations outlined within the Strategic Assessment 2019 document would be incorporated into the CSP’s Community Safety Strategy 2019-2021.


The CSM and the District Commander added the following comments of detail in relation to specific crime-types and areas of CSP operation in relation to Dartford:


Burglary Residential: This crime-trend had experienced a rise in reported incidents in Dartford in the period under review, following the re-categorisation of garages, sheds and outhouses as ‘dwellings’. Dartford was in a uniquely vulnerable position for cross-border crime from Essex and the Metropolis. Co-operation with Essex and the Met police forces had intensified to deal with the high negative impact of this crime on victims, as part of the Chief Constable’s Kent Control Strategy. A further Chief Constable initiative had been the setting up of North, West and East Kent detective teams of highly experienced officers who had made a series of key arrests.


Theft from Vehicles: A ‘spike’ in the theft of tools from vehicles  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.


Committee Work Programme 2020-21 and Beyond pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To consider the draft Work Plan (attached as Appendix A to the report) for the ensuing 2020-2021 municipal year and beyond, and comment accordingly.

Additional documents:


Proceedings resumed in open session to consider the report from the Committee’s co-ordinating officer which enclosed at Appendix A, an updated Work Plan for the remainder of the 2019-20 municipal year and beyond, as requested by Members in July 2019 [Min. No 17 refers].


Members noted the contents of the revised Work Plan document and discussed further topics for possible consideration by the Committee at future meetings including:


·         An update on agency measures being taken to combat telephone and other fraud suffered by elderly and vulnerable residents [considered by the Committee in February 2019 – Min. No 23 of 2018/19 refers];

·         An update on measures being taken by enforcement agencies to combat ‘County Lines’ activity by organised criminal gangs [considered by the Committee in February 2019 - Min. No 25 refers];

·         A possible presentation from Public Health Kent on the health implications of the inhalation of nitrous oxide [Min. No 26 above refers].




1.    That Members note the contents of the updated Work Plan for 2020-21 attached as Appendix A to the report;


2.    That the Work Plan be further updated to include details of subsequent Member discussion on 12 February 2020 as minuted above.