1. The Commissioner introduced his report.
2. Referring to the paragraphs on Lobbying for a fairer funding settlement for Kent the Commissioner commented on the previous proposals to review the funding formula which had not been successful, this had now been reviewed and put on hold by the Home Office. Kent police had been judged by HMIC as good or outstanding in the PEEL assessments but this would be extremely difficult to maintain if the current funding situation continued.
3. Further collaboration was ongoing, the PCC would be appointed as an additional member of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority when legislation was changed and had also had discussions with the ambulance service to look at opportunities.
4. The Commissioner confirmed that there was a Cybercrime unit within the Serious Crime Directorate. The Police Cadet scheme continued to be successful and the Commissioner had aspirations for it to go county wide.
5. The Commissioner highlighted the role of the Special Constables, they were excellent and volunteered a huge amount of time.
6. In response to a question about the funding formula the Commissioner explained that the advice from the Home Office was that it was necessary to see what was in the budget the following week. Amber Rudd had made some comments about the policing budgets and the often high levels of reserves, there were concerns that this was not positive; however PCCs across the country had suggested a number of other options to the Government.
7. A Member asked how the Commissioner was ensuring the schemes involving young people were effective. The Commissioner referred to the Safer in Kent: Backing Young People document which set out how the Commissioner would hold the Chief Constable to account for issues affecting young people, it was important for young people to have a voice.
8. A Member asked why there was no mention of the dedicated Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) unit and CCTV within the ‘ideas tests during the consultation’ section of the paper, the Commissioner explained that he was looking into these issues, he was looking at more innovative ways of using CCTV and had had discussions with private sector organisations. ASB would be considered as part of budget setting process and commissioning intentions for next year.
9. In response to a question about the length of time it takes to clear Kent’s motorways after road traffic incidents the Commissioner explained that road closures were often necessary for investigations following an incident, particularly in cases of injury or death; it was not always possible to speed things up. In response to a point about ensuring the public was kept informed of road closures and delays the Commissioner explained that information was provided via social media and through Kent Online and Kent Live.
10. In response to a question about drone technology and whether this was used in Kent when dealing with road traffic collisions the Commissioner explained that Kent police did have drones with fixed cameras, which were in use for searching for missing persons for example but drone technology was not currently used for road traffic collisions as far as the Commissioner was aware.
11. A Member asked if the Ambulance Service had been receptive to discussions about collaboration; the Commissioner explained that the Chief Executive had been in post for 7 months and discussions had been very positive and there was a willingness to work with the Police and Fire Service. There was a duty to collaborate but, regardless of that duty, conversations had been very positive.
12. A Member referred to the collaboration with the NHS and the suggestion of penalising NHS Trusts for failing to support those in mental health crisis. The Commissioner referred to the duty to collaborate and his hope that there would not be a need for penalties but if, once the legislation had changed and new procedures had bedded in, there were delays in police officers handing over the care of those in crisis, PCCs should have the ability to recoup money from the NHS trusts.
13. In response to a question about training police officers and how they could be expected to drive high speed response vehicles and then engage with mental health patients, the Commissioner explained that good progress had been made with Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and nurses were supporting the delivery of training.
14. Regarding the Community Street Triage a Member asked how it was working and would it be rolled out country wide. The Commissioner explained that the street triage had been in place in Medway for 3 months and in Thanet for 7. An Oversight Group was in place to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the schemes. Whilst there had been some discussion around further roll out, any decision would be informed by a formal evaluation of the Medway and Thanet schemes.
15. A Member commented on the turnout of the Police Cadets and how impressed he had been at a recent event.
16. The Chairman asked how the volunteer schemes were going, the Commissioner explained that these schemes were positive, in particular the Special Constables and the aspiration for the police cadets scheme to be rolled out county wide. The Commissioner also referred to South East 4X4 which now had limited roads policing powers and Kent Search and Rescue. There were a number of volunteering schemes in addition to volunteers that help out in many different Kent Police departments. Volunteer PCSOs was work in progress and a paper would be submitted to the Chief Constable soon.
RESOLVED that the Police and Crime Panel thank the Commissioner for his “Opportunities for the future: progress update” report.