Agenda and draft minutes

Virtual, Crime and Disorder (Overview and Scrutiny) Committee - Wednesday 10 February 2021 5.00 pm

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 by highlighting and opening the following link: https://youtu.be/2z49nJXCDTk 

Items
No. Item

45.

Apologies For Absence

To receive any apologies of absence.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Members, Cabinet Members and KCC and Kent Police guests, to the second virtual meeting of the Committee via the Zoom platform. The remote presence of the Strategic Director (External Services), the EARS/CSU Manager, the CSO, and the Committee Co-ordinator was also noted.

 

The Chairman confirmed that the proceedings were being streamed live to the public via YouTube as per the link published on the Council’s website. However, the Committee would go into closed session to consider the final EXEMPT agenda item, the Dartford Community Safety Partnership (CSP) 2020 Strategic Assessment.

 

There were no apologies of absence from Committee or Cabinet Members.

46.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of any Grants of Dispensation by the Strategic Director (External Services).

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

47.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 29 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 421 KB

Minutes:

                    Resolved:

 

1.     That the Minutes of the meeting held on 29 July 2020 be confirmed as an accurate record of those proceedings.

48.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

The Chairman confirmed that there were no urgent items for Members to consider.

49.

To consider references from other Committees (if any)

There are currently no references from other Committees for Members to consider.

Minutes:

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

50.

Chairman's Update

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that he had no specific points to bring to their attention. He noted the ‘lighter’ than usual nature of the agenda, and confirmed that the principal item [Dartford CSP 2020 Strategic Assessment], would be taken in closed session, as the final item in the proceedings following the formal exclusion of the press and public.

 

Members were advised that the Dartford CSP 2020 Strategic Assessment (SA) had been compiled jointly by the EARS/CSU Manager and the CSO, in the long-term absence of the Community Safety Manager (CSM) Tony Henley, who had now begun a phased return to work following an extended period of illness.

 

The Chairman and Members asked that their best wishes for the CSM’s continued recovery be recorded in the Minutes, and expressed their appreciation of the CSM’s previous work on behalf of the Dartford & Gravesham CSP and for the Dartford CSP going forward.

 

He also noted the appointment of a new Dartford & Gravesham District Commander, Chief Inspector Junior Dann, Kent Police, and asked that the Committee’s appreciation of the work of his predecessor, Chief Inspector Neil Louden, on behalf of Dartford residents be recorded in the Minutes.

 

51.

Regulation 9 Notice (Forward Plan) pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To consider any issues arising from the Regulation 9 Notice (Forward Plan) for the period 14 January 2021 to 31 May 2021.

Minutes:

                    RESOLVED:

 

1.     That Members note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice (Forward Plan) for the period 14 January 2021 to 31 May 2021 as published.

52.

Dartford Community Safety Partnership (CSP) pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To note the dissolution of the Dartford & Gravesham CSP and the formation of the single Dartford CSP.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Strategic Director (External Services) advised Members that the former joint Community Safety Partnership (CSP) with Gravesham Council, had been formally dissolved in October 2020 following a request from Gravesham Council to the Kent & Medway Police and Crime Commissioner. The new single CSP would concentrate solely on Dartford related matters going forward, as set out in its Terms of Reference (attached as Appendix A) to the report.

 

The report and appendix were noted by Members as presented.

 

                    RESOLVED:

 

1.     That Members note the report concerning the dissolution of the Dartford & Gravesham Community Safety Partnership (CSP) and the formation of the single Dartford CSP under the Terms of Reference set out in Appendix A to the report.

53.

Presentation from KCC Trading Standards - Fraud in times of COVID-19

Minutes:

The Chairman renewed his welcome to Mr Clive Phillips, Operations Manager for KCC Trading Standards, and confirmed that his presentation to Members on combating fraud during the Coronavirus pandemic would be verbal.

 

The Operations Manager informed Members that enforcing the government’s varying lockdown measures to combat COVID-19 together with Kent Police, had greatly increased his team’s workload. He regretted that a bespoke PowerPoint presentation had not been possible in the circumstances, but undertook to send contact details and other relevant links for use by Members with their constituents, in support of his verbal update. He also offered to attend a future meeting of the Committee, following the end of the current lockdown measures, to update Members further.

 

 

He advised Members that, in addition to enforcing the Government’s lockdown measures across the trading and services sector, his team’s primary role was to re-assure the public regarding COVID-19 and the requirements of the Government’s various measures to combat the pandemic. The primary tool was a continuous stream of alerts via Facebook, which he encouraged Members to sign-up to [details to follow]. To date 144 Facebook Alerts had been issued to some 1.4 million residents across Kent to combat a huge surge in door-step and internet crime. The most frequent COVID-19 scams were offers to sanitise driveways against the virus, and the sale of vaccines and securing payment via the internet, from criminals based overseas, despite the vaccine being free at source from the NHS. COVID-19 scams continued to evolve, with the latest heavy snowfalls in Kent including Dartford, prompting criminals to offer structural inspections to prevent COVID-19 seeping into dwellings via the roof.

 

Continuing to educate the public against such scams and sharing information was essential to combat fraud. Key measures included; a call-blocking scheme applied to 1,000 households with a target of 35% of all Kent households by October 2021, a Trading Standards video (available to download from the KCC website) on tips to combat ‘door-step’ scammers. Presentations by KCC Trading Standards to trading and service bodies on request. It was calculated that the work of Fraud Officers had led to the recovery of some £240K of fraudulently obtained payments to date.

 

The Chairman thanked the Operations Manager for his verbal update, offer of further detailed information for distribution to Members, and his offer to update the Committee further in the future.

 

In response to questions from individual Members the Operations Manager confirmed the following principal points:

 

·       Despite blocking identified scammers, residents would continue to receive further scam calls because criminals sold-on their numbers to other scammers;

·       There were a number of good call-block schemes on the market including BT ‘Call Protect’ and ‘True-Call’;

·       UK legislation could only be used against UK-based criminals, unfortunately the majority of scammers were based overseas, but details of foreign criminals were shared with international bodies;

·       Telephone scams had increased by some 250% since April 2020 due in great measure, to people now working from home during lockdown;

·       KCC Trading Standards Facebook and Twitter accounts were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.

54.

Kent & Medway Police and Crime Panel (PCP) Update pdf icon PDF 240 KB

To receive a verbal update from Councillor R J Wells, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Dartford representative on the PCP, regarding the Panel proceedings due to be held on 4 February 2021, and to note the published Minutes of the Panel meeting held on 8 September 2020.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Community Safety, in his role as Dartford’s representative on the Kent & Medway Police and Crime Panel (PCP), updated Members on the PCP proceedings held on 4 February 2021, pending the publication of the meeting minutes by KCC.

 

He reminded the Committee that the February PCP meeting traditionally considered the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC’s) Plan, Associated Budget and any Precept proposals, for the ensuing financial year. However, because of the impending PCC elections in May 2021 the current Plan had been extended into 2022 and retained the existing published priorities. The Plan would be reviewed by the new PCC following the May election. The existing powers of the PCC were currently being reviewed, and any changes would be advised to the Committee in due course. The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent Government lock-down measures, had dictated that national policing priorities had had to take precedence over local priorities for all Forces.

 

At the Panel meeting on 4 February, the current PCC had proposed a further increase in the Police precept [within Council Tax] of £15 for a Band D property. His proposal was in line with proposed increases for other police forces across England, and was required to finance increased police officer recruitment, which had risen by 145 recruits to an historic high of 3,970 police officers in Kent. The proposed increase in precept would be supplemented by central government funding, to help defray other staffing and increased costs associated with the additional measures to combat COVID-19. The additional funding would be targeted towards new and expanded police units for schools, combatting domestic violence and organised crime. The budget proposals had been robustly debated by the Panel but eventually approved. The Cabinet Member had supported the PCC’s proposal to increase the precept, and believed the increased monies would be spent responsibly and effectively by the PCC and Kent Police.

 

Members welcomed the increase in police officer numbers in Kent and expressed the hope that the Dartford community policing team would receive a proportionate increase to their complement. Members also expressed the hope that the new police recruitment would reflect the increased role of women in society, and be representative in percentage terms of England’s BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities.

 

The Cabinet Member referred Members to para 355 of the PCP Minutes of 8 September 2020 [agenda p.31 refers] which confirmed an increase in the number of female police officers and BAME officers being recruited by Kent Police, but undertook to bring back specific numbers to the Committee.

 

The Chairman asked whether there was a need for increased use of CCTV in the community policing effort, as stated by the PCC in his response of 8 September 2020 [KCC Minutes para 358-Q1 agenda p.33 refers].

 

The Community Police Inspector advised Members that increased use of mobile phones by officers linked to local authority CCTV networks had produced more camera coverage on the ground and other measures continued to be explored. She undertook to update Members on developments  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Review of Committee Work Plan for the 2021-22 Municipal Year and Beyond pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report from the Committee’s Coordinating Officer enclosed an updated Committee Work Plan for the 2021-22 municipal cycle and beyond [Appendix A to the report], and also advised Members of topics previously agreed by the Committee for consideration [Min. No. 42 refers], but as yet unallocated [report para 3.3 agenda p.35 refers].

 

The Chairman commended the updated Work Plan to Members and proposed that a time-frame for the unallocated items be considered by Members in July, when the effects of the pandemic and impact of the Government’s lock-down measures had hopefully abated. This was particularly relevant for the Environmental Health presentation on COVID-19, given the re-structuring of that particular Council service.

 

In response to a specific question from the Chairman, the Committee Co-ordinator confirmed that under the terms of its Protocol, all three political groups represented on the Committee could draw-down topics for discussion on an ad-hoc basis, in addition to their consideration of scheduled Work Plan items.

 

He advised that historically, the Committee had not used the draw-down mechanism to consider additional topics, given the Committee’s statutory obligation to consider each year the : CSP’s Strategic Assessment, Community Safety Plan (or Annual Refresh), Mid-Year Performance Report, D-TAC Annual Update, PCP Updates and the Committee’s Annual Report and Work Plan. In addition, at the discretion of the CSP and the Strategic Director (External Services), the Committee also considered on a rolling ad-hoc basis, the contributions made by CSP partner agencies to the Partnership as a whole. As a consequence of that statutory and structured workload, the Committee’s Work Plan was largely self-generating. However, going forward, he undertook to remind the Chairman (and Labour and S&GRA representatives on the Committee) of the 16 working day deadline for the submission of draw-down bids to future scheduled meetings of the Committee.

 

          RESOLVED:

 

1.     That Members note and approve the updated 2021-22 Work Plan [attached as Appendix A to the report];

2.     That Members give further consideration to the unallocated items in the report as set out in paragraph 3.3. at the Committees next meeting in July 2021;

3.     That Members note the ability of political Groups represented on the Committee to draw-down additional topics for consideration on an ad-hoc basis, in addition to the agreed Work Plan topics [as set out in the Committee’s Protocol].

 

56.

EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that under Section 100(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), that the virtual Committee proceedings would now go into closed session, to consider the Dartford Community Safety Partnership (CSP’s) 2020 Strategic Assessment (SA), enclosed as Appendix A to Item A in the agenda.

 

He thanked members of the public and press that may have been viewing the proceedings via YouTube and confirmed that formal meetings of the meeting would be published on the Council’s public website in due course.

 

Following confirmation from the Committee Co-ordinator that the YouTube link had been closed, the Committee went into closed session.

 

57.

Dartford Community Safety Partnership (CSP) Strategic Assessment 2020

Minutes:

The Committee proceedings resumed in closed session for Members to consider the Dartford Community Safety Partnership’s 2020 Strategic Assessment (SA) document [EXEMPT Item A]. For ease of reference, the 2020 SA document was displayed for Members via a shared screen arrangement.

 

The covering report from the Enforcement & Regulatory Services (EARS) Manager asked Members to:

 

(i)              Note the 2020 SA (EXEMPT Appendix A to the report);

(ii)             Note the priorities in the 2020 SA as agreed by the Dartford CSP at its meeting on 21 January 2021;

(iii)           Note the CSP’s decision to adopt the recommendations contained within the SA 2020 into the current Community Safety Plan (2020-2023);

 

He confirmed that the data contained in the 2020 SA covered the period 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020 (unless otherwise stated) and that the Executive Summary (agenda p.44 refers) remained a ‘live’ document, pending receipt of further Kent Police data. However, sufficient data had been received which, combined with local intelligence allied to operational experience; supported the recommendation that the priorities identified in the 2019 Strategic Assessment (SA) should be retained.

 

Much of the 2020 data received to date reflected the ongoing public health emergency, and the effects of the government’s subsequent lockdown measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic - e.g. spikes in ASB and DA. This did not however, reflect a fundamental change in Dartford’s underlying crime issues and the newly formed CSP [October 2020] would continue to focus its efforts to combat the four key areas of criminal activity in the Borough, which were:

 

·       1. Violent Crime including Domestic Abuse (DA)

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

·       3. Preventing offending and reducing re-offending

·       4. Protecting vulnerable people and strengthening communities

 

The SA Performance Summary (agenda p.44 refers) set out crime types on both an annual and county-wide comparative basis, together with a colour-coded key, indicating ‘improvement, deterioration or no change’ respectively. Dartford’s top 3 crime categories of violence, DA and ASB were the same top priorities for Kent as a whole. Dartford had record a drop in all crime and violent crime compared to the previous year, whilst Kent as a whole had recorded ‘no change’ in those categories. Incidents of DA and ASB had increased in Dartford and overall, Dartford’s crime statistics were the 4th highest in Kent, placing the CSP 9th in terms of performance, with Dartford crime higher than the Kent average, but not by any means the worst.

 

The EARS Manager highlighted the following specific points of detail in his oral summary of the 2020 DA for Members:

 

·       Violent crime against the person had seen the greatest increase in Dartford in the period under review, together with a 43% increase in ASB, which reflected the pattern across Kent and was linked in particular to the lock-down measures to combat COVID-19 which made residents generally less disposed towards good behaviour and more inclined to verbal and other abuse of neighbours in particular;

·       Incidents of Domestic Abuse had also increased in the period  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

VALEDICTORY

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that the meeting marked the end of Sheri Green’s involvement with the Crime & Disorder (Overview & Scrutiny) Committee in her capacity as Strategic Director (External Services), prior to her retirement from the Council in May 2021, after some 33 years’ service in a number of management, senior management and Director roles.

 

Mrs Green’s experience and guidance both as SD (ES) and one of Dartford’s representatives on the Dartford & Gravesham (now Dartford) CSP, had been invaluable to Members since the Committee’s inception in October 2009. He asked that his thanks and that of the Committee be recorded in the minutes.

 

He also thanked Peter Dosad, Director (elect) for Housing & Public Protection for his attendance in an observer capacity, and welcomed his future participation in the Committee’s proceedings at the next meeting in July.

 

Members were also advised that the Committee’s Coordinating Officer, David Hook, would be relinquishing his specific duties for the Committee (but remaining at the Council). The Chairman thanked Mr Hook for his support of the Committee since 2009, sentiments echoed by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, who had previously chaired the Committee.