RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November were an accurate record and that they be signed by the Chairman.
PCC general updates
1. The Commissioner updated the Panel on some issues raised with him at and since the previous Panel meeting.
· Regarding PCSOs issuing penalty notices for parking in restricted areas outside of schools; a draft Memorandum Of Understanding had been sent to parking leads for all councils, which set out the governance and local arrangements. Kent Police were working with Medway Council regarding PCSOs issuing penalty notices and that a Medway pilot would be considered in due course.
· Magnate Generation was running a project from the Bower House café in Ashford which involved working with pupils from local schools by providing business courses outside of school hours.
· It was likely that the Emergency Services Network (ESN) would be extended to cover KCC Community Wardens when all public sector services currently using the Airwaves digital communication system transitioned to ESN.
Additional item – Recorded Crime increase in Kent (Verbal Update)
1. The Commissioner provided an update to the Panel on the recently published national crime data which showed an increase in recorded crime in Kent. He advised the Panel that the statistics were difficult to assess fairly given the changes in recording practice and national guidance year on year. The Commissioner clarified that the Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that overall crime in the UK was down by 40% since 2014, however he noted that the recently released crime stats indicated that there had been an increase in 2017 of 27%. He highlighted that further work had been undertaken to improve crime recording following the review of recording accuracy which would probably have contributed to an increase in the recorded figures. The Commissioner also commented that legislation and process changes as well as positive publicity campaigns had encouraged more people to come forward to report certain ‘hidden harm’ crime types, such as stalking and domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape. This reflected increased victim confidence rather than a real-world increase in the number of crimes being committed. However, the Commissioner acknowledged that part of the overall increase did evidence straightforward increases in crime. He advised the Panel that this was part of a national trend but that Kent Police was looking into the matter, focusing more on the impact of any increases rather than the stats themselves.
2. The Commissioner highlighted that Anti-social behaviour incident reports for Kent had fallen by 11%. This showed a mixed picture around reporting of issues by the public. He also noted that the new Policing Model that had been introduced in 2017, as well as the new Investigation tool, had freed up officer time, which was positive and was expected to improve services over time.
3. The Commissioner answered Member questions, explaining that the crime types that had seen a genuine increase (rather than suspected reporting increase) were public order, violence against the person (VAP) as well as knife and weapon offences. The Commissioner acknowledged points made by the Panel regarding expected increases in reports relating to domestic abuse, harassment and sexual offences and that it was important to retain a strong focus on understanding and tackling any increases in real crime. The Commissioner highlighted the commitment to recruit more Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVAs) to support victims and that a new co-ordinator role for sexual offences was expected to help further.
4. The Commissioner confirmed that work was continuing on monitoring the data integrity following the HMIC inspection and that he was holding the Chief Constable to account on this issue. The Chief Constable was now required to provide regular updates on data integrity at Performance and Delivery Boards. Also, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services had provided extra training to the Force’s own auditors to ensure alignment in approach. The Commissioner accepted that the 27% increase in recorded crime appeared to be a cause for concern but reassured the Panel that he was holding the Chief Constable to account on data accuracy and integrity and was more intent on ensuring all crimes were recorded properly so they could be dealt with, even if that resulted in an increase in the figures. He advised the Panel that recording accuracy had risen to 90% and that he was satisfied that the Chief Constable was taking appropriate steps to continue this improvement. The Commissioner confirmed that he would provide a report to the Panel on crime data integrity once the follow-up report from HMICFRS’s next inspection became available.
5. Responding to Member questions, the Commissioner advised that investigations had shown that there was no link between pressure on the 101 service and the drop in ASB reports. The Commissioner also highlighted the introduction of online reporting as a method of accessing policing services which had provided a good alternative which it was hoped would ease pressure on the 101 service. He also advised the Panel that he had increased Community Safety Partnership funding from the PCC budget by 10%, which he hoped would enable them to consider and develop innovative methods of tackling ASB and linked issues. The Commissioner reassured the Panel that he would be supporting continued development of technology, that the launch of the online reporting tool was a step in the right direction, though he cautioned that Social Media was not an appropriate platform for reporting crime.
RESOLVED that the Panel thank the Commissioner for the verbal updates and that they be noted.