Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Contact: Stephen Bace 01452 324204
As detailed above.
One member raised the subject of the arrangements for substitute members from the district and county, noting that district councils had named substitutes and the county did not. Members noted the need for substitutes to have knowledge of the Panel’s responsibilities and recognised the political balance requirements within legislation. He suggested that the process for substitutes on the Panel be looked at to ensure clarity and consistency around the process.
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The minutes from 4 February 2019 were agreed as a correct record.
Members discussed the fact that hard copies of the agenda were no longer being circulated and some members commented that they had been unable to access the link provided on their laptop. It was clarified that district councils had been made aware that paper copies would not be provided to members as part of the paperless approach. Agenda papers could be accessed on laptops or tablets with the modern.gov app available to use. It was explained that members had been informed a week earlier by email and if there had been any difficulties found accessing the papers, democratic services would be happy to assist. The point was raised that independent members did not have district council support to print copies of the papers. The concerns would be passed on to the Head of Democratic Services at the County Council.
Declaration of Interests
No additional declarations were made
The Commissioner to update the Panel with regards to the current Tri-Force arrangements.
10.1 The Commissioner provided an update to the Panel on the partnership working with Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire. Tri-Force had been a collaboration negotiated in 2012 by the then Police Authority around ‘armed response’, ‘Black Rock Fire-arms training centre at Portishead’, tactical advisers and Roads Policing.
10.2 Meetings were held on a quarterly basis between Chief Officers as well as meetings with the Commissioners. This had been a collaboration out of necessity, where there had been a reduction in officers undertaking those functions. It had been a success and had served its purpose, but had begun to shown the strains of the different Forces having different aspirations. In April 2018 the three Commissioners and three Chief Constables had come to the decision that road policing and ‘dogs’ would come back to local command. Subsequently, Avon and Somerset had given notice that they wished to withdraw from the fire -arms element of the collaboration. This had been due to them being unable to agree a way forward due to the legal complexity around accountability.
10.3 Bringing all three functions back locally had benefits around them being in briefings with response officers and aligning more closely with road policing locally.
10.4 Members understood that all three functions would return to the Constabulary’s direct control in April 2019. The Chief Constable was working on a new structure which would align it with Safe and Social Driving. There was a vacancy being recruited to on the Collision Investigation team.
10.5 Members received details of Counter Terrorism Specialist Firearms Officers trained specifically and these would remain part of the collaboration between the three forces. This was overseen by a joint service agreement.
10.6 In response to a question, it was explained that the decisions around this was through the consent of the three commissioners and three chief constables.
10.7 Black Rock was still operational; this was an in-door range that simulated scenarios for fire arms officers and remained under a collaboration agreement.
10.8 It was acknowledged that it was important to collaborate with forces from all sides including those north of Gloucestershire.
10.9 One member suggested that it would be
useful to be provided with a map or briefing note outlining what
work was carried out locally, regionally and nationally and provide
information on all the collaborations in place.
11.1 Paul Trott introduced the report which provided details on the actions of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office. With regards to the GFRS Governance Review, the reports and outcome of the consultation had been published on the Commissioner’s website, all of which has been submitted to the Home Office. It was also noted that the website would be updated in order to make it more accessible.
11.2 There was some discussion around the crime data provided within the report with it noted that in the last 12 months Gloucester had seen an increase of 10%. It was explained that work was underway to consider the factors around this in more detail, but it was worth considering that Gloucester still remained one of the lowest crime areas in the UK. In relation to a question on detection rates, it was explained that more analysts had been recruited to help understand the trends. With regards to Stroud, it was noted that the 5% increase would fall into the category of normal variation.
11.3 One member suggested that it would be useful to have an informal session with the Commissioner and the Chief Constable once a year to go through the crime figures in more depth. The Commissioner stated he was happy to engage with members on this.
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11.4 With regards to the type of incidents that were taking up the time of the Constabulary, it was explained that those with mental health difficulties were falling to the Police to handle and so there was a disproportionate amount of time being spent in this area. Some members commented that it was vital that agencies worked together for better outcomes for those with mental health difficulties and to take the strain. The Commissioner had commissioned a piece of work to understand this.
11.5 An independent appeals officer had been appointed in July 2018 who currently dealt with appeals in respect of the local resolution of complaints to the Constabulary. When the Policing and Crime Act 2017 was implemented, the PCC would become the appeal body. So far the officer had handled 40 cases with 11 upheld.
11.6 One member noted the average numbers of 999 calls and noted that those averages did not show the peaks and troughs.
To better understand the context behind the changes to the Criminal Justice system and its impact.
12.1 The Commissioner explained to members that he chaired the local Criminal Justice Board. He did not have governance responsibility for criminal justice but worked in partnership.
12.2 Amanda Segelov explained that the Commissioner’s role was as a facilitator of conversations and bringing people together. She outlined some of the work she had been involved in such as coordinating Brexit activity amongst criminal justice agencies.
12.3 Richard Bradley informed members that in 2013 HM Government introduced the Transforming Rehabilitation programme (TR) in an attempt to reform the probation service. This approach privatisd 80% of the probation service and would deliver services through Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) that would manage medium and low risk offenders leaving high risk offenders to be managed by the National Probation Service. The Government had now accepted failure of this approach and had terminated existing contracts in December 2020 instead of the original date of 2022. The current CRC service provider for Gloucestershire ‘Working Links’ went into administration on 13 February 2019. The performance level of this service showed that it was incapable of reducing reoffending with the reoffending level at between 45-50%The Ministry of Justice had since appointed SEETEC to take on the CRC contract for the South West. SEETEC currently provided CRC services for Kent, Sussex and Surrey.
12.4 It was explained that following these issues, work was underway to try to rebuild the confidence of those sentencing as they now did not have the confidence in community solutions. A multi-agency South West Reducing Reoffending board had now been established which would include Richard Bradley and DCC Jon Stratford as the Gloucestershire representatives. This board would work collaboratively and provide greater oversight of performance and service delivery of all probation services for the South West, One member commented on his great sadness over the loss of confidence in community solutions. It was important to rebuild this as Gloucestershire had a proud record with magistrates working with justice agencies.
12.5 There was discussion around issues with prisons and the lack of rehabilitation and the support for those that leave prison. It was suggested that prisoners were being placed in impossible situations when leaving prison and that there was a duty here to offenders but also the wider public.
12.6 Members discussed the performance of the magistrate’s court, noting that the court was ranked 37 out of 42 other courts as it had issues with timeliness, listing times for trials were above the national average, a lot of adjournments and issues with police file quality. A multiagency group was looking into this and would be meeting with the Chief Magistrate.
12.7 A number of members stated that the Criminal Justice system was broken. One member emphasised the importance of investment in rehabilitation which would save in the long term. Some members expressed frustration that the Commissioner was not getting support as part of his ‘and crime’ role. The Commissioner outlined that he was not getting the support to build a new court system in Gloucestershire.
13.1 Richard Bradley introduced the report which detailed that for each of the six priorities within the Police and Crime Plan there was a priority lead. The report provided details of activity up to December 2018.
13.2 Members noted the Children First Programme and were pleased to hear that the work here was keeping young people out of the criminal justice system. In 2018 221 young people who previously would have had a conviction or caution had not received one. The reoffending rate within this group was at 13%, much lower than other approaches. One member suggested that a document outlining the savings associated with those young people not entering the system would be useful.
13.3 The Panel were informed of the increased work to provide oversight and support with Domestic Homicide Reviews. It cost around £10,000 to conduct with half paid by the Commissioner and the other half split across the 6 district.
13.4 Officers and some members made the request that in future the highlight report be put at the top of the agenda at some meetings.
13.5 In response to a question it was confirmed that the safer cyber money had been allocated but a proportion of it had not been spent yet.
13.6 One member raised the usefulness of community alerts and asked that this be promoted as much as possible.
13.7 With regards to speeding, it was confirmed that the majority of those attending courses were picked up by vans or by officers on foot not the fixed sites. The policy was to educate and the Commissioner noted the joint work being carried out with the fire and rescue service in this area.