Agenda item

Community Safety Partnership Plan 2022/23

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the associated report.

Minutes:

Councillor Scott, the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development (which included responsibility for community safety), and Terry Hughes, Community Safety Manager, introduced the report reviewing performance of the Community Safety Partnership Plan for the previous year and setting out proposals for next year.

 

Answers to questions included the following:

·         It was difficult to make predictions of post-covid trends. A big spike in anti-social behaviour calls, largely related to breaches of lockdown regulations, had reduced to pre-pandemic levels. Domestic Abuse incidents were up but not as much as had been predicted. Work to encourage reporting was continuing. Overall, the current levels of incidents was believed to be the new normal.

·         The Safer Streets tool was not without faults but was proving to be useful. 38 incidents had been registered. When looking closely at the mapping data it appeared that the location of incidents was not being accurately captured. Officers were working with the responsible Superintendent to see whether the tool could be made to not allow plotting at too high a level of zoom.

·         The recent Police and Crime Commissioner’s survey provided general descriptions of where people felt unsafe (e.g. train stations and parks) but not specific locations so would not provide actionable data. Safer Streets had provided actionable data.

·         Applications for additional funding in phase 4 of the Safer Streets Fund was now open, projects building on existing success would increase chances. Any grant would need to the match-funded 1:2. Other agencies were also seeking funding.

·         Early Help were looking for funding towards tackling knife crime. Whilst knife related incidents in the borough were low, the carrying of knives if detected often lead to a downward spiral.

·         Domestic Abuse services were also seeking additional funding. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council were acting as referees for this.

·         An increase in road traffic incidents involving young people was in line with pre-pandemic trends, so not necessarily related to the pandemic. It was suspected that the increase was due to increasing use of mobile devices and more data was being sought. Kent Wardens and other agency officers regularly attended schools to deliver road safety messages.

·         The Council was working with night-time economy venues and the Commons Conservators to improve safety, particularly of women and girls. Trees blocking street lights and pathways had been cut back.

·         The ethnicity of hate crime victims was recorded and discussed regularly within the Community Safety Unit. The data was available to councillors on request.

·         Potential sources of funding from the Department of Levelling Up to assist in the integration of people resettling from Hong Kong and tackling related hate crime would be explored. Applications would likely be through the Police as resettlement costs would not necessarily be a community safety issue at borough level.

·         Use of the Safer Streets tool had been promoted to the community, particularly during the time the Police and Crime Commissioner’s survey was live.

·         Data from the Safer Streets tool, whilst not perfect, was still useful particularly as it included multiple choice questions which prompted the giving of more detailed answers. Work was underway to improve the tool’s flaws.

·         The Council was heavily reliant on the Police both for policing the borough and for supporting the Community Safety Unit. The Assistant Chief Constable had strongly urged the Council to allow time for the “My Community Voice” platform to be in place. This would fill many of the gaps in the Safer Streets tool and would provide a single platform for the whole of Kent, saving the burden of analysing 16 separate platforms.

·         Expectations needed to be managed, a multitude of different tools could cause confusion, duplication and missed reports. Safer Streets and My Community Voice were the preferred platforms.

·         A local version of the Safer Streets tool could be developed but it would be limited by local resources, a lack of access to national grade technology and a lack of integration with regional and national platforms.

·         Recent improvements to Safer Streets showed commitment and significant investment by the stakeholders.

·         There were no known county-line gangs operating in the borough. It may be that the pandemic and restrictions to movements had resulted in the gangs adopting new operating models but this was being closely investigated.

·         Culverden and Park wards tended to show above average crime statistics due to their coverage of the town centre. The town centre was often distinguished from residential areas in analysis of the data but the possibility of separating the data at source would be investigated.

·         Data was available broken down into Lower Level Super Output Areas (LSOA) the grouping into wards was a local convenience.

 

Comments in debate included:

·         The report was too light in terms of tackling violence against women and girls, particularly when it comes to reliance on a flawed Safer Streets tool.

·         Development of the Kent Police My Community Voice app and a Kent-wide strategy was taking too long considering this had been a high priority for residents for over a year.

 

RESOLVED –

1.    That the Community Safety Partnership Plan, including the recommended 5 priorities for 2022/23 be supported; and

2.    That a further report be brought to the Committee within 6 months providing:

a.    Location data and any other related analysis to identify causes of increased road traffic incidents involving young people;

b.    Data and relevant analysis on the ethnicity of victims of hate crimes;

c.     Analysis of the practicability of separating town centre crime data from residential areas; and

d.    Analysis of the efficacy of the Safer Streets tool and comparison to potential local tools.

Supporting documents: