To review the annual report and make a report or recommendations to the
19.1 Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner, presented his annual report. He also informed the Panel that the Prime Minister had announced a 2% pay increase for Police Officers. He stated that whilst this was good for Police Officers it was not yet clear where this increase would be funded from.
19.2 Members comments related to the content and structure of the annual report were: -
Ø That the Panel was of the view that it would have been better for it to have been involved earlier in the drafting process,
Ø That the annual report could have included more positive information regarding the Police,
Ø That the data on page 9 relating to the Police was not contextualised which meant that it was difficult to understand whether it was indicating that this was ‘good’ or ‘bad’,
Ø The data on p6 relating to the outcome of the consultation on the governance of the Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue was questioned and the PCC was asked to check that this information was correct, and did accurately reflect the outcome of the consultation,
Ø That Members thought it would be beneficial for there to be commentary on the crime data to help people understand how effective the Police were being,
Ø That the report should include a section on climate change and wildlife crime,
Ø That the report might have been better to include the impact on the Police of having to attend incidents outside of their core work, eg. mental health calls.
19.3 The PCC informed Panel that the Annual Report had not yet been published and he would take these points away for consideration; in particular, he would double check the data presented.
19.4 Panel members welcomed the Child Friendly Gloucestershire work led by Dame Janet Trotter. This utilised a multi-agency approach and aimed to ensure that the diverse voices of children and young people in Gloucestershire were heard and influenced policy going forward. In response to a question the PCC explained that measureable targets were not included in this approach. This was about a change in culture over the longer term; it would take time before change would be seen.
(Post meeting note: for information Panel members were emailed the link to the presentation slides on Child Friendly Gloucestershire received at the Gloucestershire Health and Wellbeing Board on 23 July 2019.)
19.5 With regard to knife crime the PCC assured the Panel that he has discussed this issue with the Chief Constable and was of the view that appropriate measures were in place in Gloucestershire. He informed members that he supported the government’s public health approach to knife crime, although with some caveats. The PCC did not think that children and young people in this county carried knives as a matter of course. He was, however, clear that he could not say all was 100% OK and that this issue remained a threat. The Panel noted that the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner led on this issue as this was within his remit as Chair of the Safer Gloucestershire Partnership.
19.6 The Deputy PCC informed members that the OPCC was funding a post within Public Health focused on violent crime prevention. 1% of the total crime in Gloucestershire was violent crime; not all of this related to knife crime. The Deputy PCC was clear that ‘county lines’ remained a significant threat.
19.7 The Panel welcomed the Children First initiative and agreed that it would be helpful to receive a presentation on this matter at a future meeting. A Panel member stated that at the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee on 18 July 2019, where members had received a presentation on this matter, a committee member, who was a solicitor, had questioned the knowledge of Children First across all Police Officers. He had explained that his experience was that some Police Officers claimed that they were not aware of Children First. As a solicitor this presented difficulties for him as it impacted on the advice he was able to give to his client. The PCC was disappointed to hear this and informed the Panel that he would take this back to the Constabulary. He also informed the Panel that there was a forum in place at which solicitors could raise this type of issue.
(Post meeting note: for information Panel members were emailed the link to the presentation slides on Children First received at the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee on 18 July 2019.)
19.8 The Panel was also informed that at the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee on 18 July 2019 the issue of children being detained overnight in the cells had been raised. The PCC informed the Panel that these numbers had reduced significantly, but that this would, unfortunately, happen occasionally. The Deputy PCC explained that the Director of Partnerships and Strategy at the county council has been working closely with the Police to develop a transfer protocol to manage these situations.
19.9 Panel members indicated that they were supportive of the work of the Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in their areas, particularly in offering support to individuals with mental health difficulties. The Panel was aware of the impact that dealing with calls related to mental health issues was having on Police resources, and on the wellbeing of Police Officers and PCSOs. The PCC informed the Panel that the Chief Constable was doing a lot to support the welfare of his officers; however the level of sick leave remained an issue. He stated that funding cuts had consequences.
19.10 The Deputy PCC informed the Panel that addressing the mental health challenge needed to be addressed with partners. The Safer Gloucestershire Partnership was looking at this issue.