The Commissioner presented an update on the progress of projects and initiatives under his ‘Safer, Fairer, United Communities for Staffordshire’ strategy. Particular points highlighted/discussed were:
Crime levels – from recently published statistics, crime levels overall appeared to be stabilising however, as previously reported, the nature of those crimes was becoming increasingly complex which presented challenges when assessing year on year performance. Whilst the Commissioner reported that the Victims Gateway was performing well, supporting those affected by approximately 50,000-60,0000 instances to date, members queried the organisation of that service and their use of national expertise rather than local resources.
As part of Early Intervention work the SPACE youth activity scheme had been particularly successful.
Questioned on the possible introduction of a standard CCTV system in Town Centres across the County, the Commissioner reported that after investing considerable resource into promoting that wish, he had abandoned the initiative due to limited take -up. He agreed to contact Council Leaders for their views on reviving the proposal, stressing that he would not pursue anything without commitment for all parties.
Modern Policing – A key element was the collaboration between the Policing and Fire and Rescue Services which would streamline support services and release resources for frontline services. Additionally the contract with Boeing for transformation of the IT services throughout the Police Force would significantly improve service delivery.
The Estates review would also be a major contributory factor as outdated buildings would be replaced by new facilities, on a shared basis where appropriate, or different operational ways of being accessible for the public. Responding to queries for members, the Commissioner reported on discussions being held with the PFI providers for Community Fire Stations in Staffordshire regarding their possible dual use. Many of the traditional reasons for the public needing face to face contact with the Police Force were now dealt with on-line, significantly reducing the need for dedicated premises.
Addressing concerns from the Panel on the effect which the closure of Police Stations might have on the level of assistance available for people with mental health problems, the Commissioner stressed that for some time the help provided to people in such a situation had been via joint working with Mental Health professionals and involved the use of more suitable venues, eg designated Places of Safety. He was involved in national level discussions on the improvement of support for people with mental health difficulties.
Public Confidence – Panel members questioned the Commissioner’s decision to take in house the responsibility for administration of Safer Neighbourhood Panels, including the recruitment of members. Panels were an important means of holding the Force to account and provided a link between the Force and the community. The Commissioner referred to the varying effectiveness of the Panels and his wish to achieve consistency in the quality of their performance.
The apparently limited support given to Neighbourhood Watch schemes was questioned. The Commissioner explained that the SMART alerts system reached out to the wider community at less cost. He was happy to consider ways of helping Neighbourhood Watch schemes to embrace and build on the SMART system provided there were no additional cost implications.
RESOLVED – That the update be noted and the Commissioner be requested to include the following items in his update report to the next Panel meeting:
· The progress of the IT Transformation Contract with Boeing
· The review/rationalisation of the Police Estate and possible shared use of facilities
· The work of Victim Support and the sources of their expert advisers
· The views of Council Leaders on the viability of a cross county CCTV scheme
· The Commissioner’s Mental Health Strategy