For Members to consider the attached report.
Contact officer: Chris Oliver 01296 585005
The Committee received a report which informed Members of current crime levels, a summary of activity on the delivery of the Aylesbury Vale Community Safety Partnership (AVCSP) Plan 2018/19 and also updated on some of the recent and future changes taking place in connection with community safety. In summary, total recorded crime for the year to date showed an increase of 3% which equated to an increase of 318 crimes, as compared with the same period 2017/18. This upward trend was in keeping with national statistics which had increased for the second year running. The report detailed completed activities from the AVCSP 2018/19 action plan and provided an update on legislation relating to anti-social behaviour (ASB) intended to deter offending that impacts communities. There was also a table that provided year to date figures of crime categories and the percentage increase/decrease when compared to the same point last year.
Violent crime was of particular national interest currently and recent homicides amongst younger people involving knives had prompted debate on police resourcing and cuts to Local Authority spending. The incidence of knife crime in Aylesbury Vale remained low. However the exploitation of young people in dealing and handling illegal drugs was of concern. There had been an increase of domestic homicide of one compared to last year. In such cases, the Community Safety Partnership would conduct a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) to investigate the circumstances of the deceased prior to their death. This review process was outlined in the report. There were currently three DHRs in progress with a fourth set to conclude and report to the Home Office. The cost and administrations of DHRs were covered by AVDC, with some funding secured through the PCC’s annual community safety grant, however the administration had utilised considerable officer time. The cost of each DHR was a minimum of £6,000 and it was noted that the number of concurrent reviews was unprecedented locally.
AVDC’s partnership working with the police and the Community Safety Partnership continued to focus on organised crime and a TVP initiative called Operation Stronghold. This initiative aimed to achieve better knowledge sharing and suitable resourcing to disrupt and prevent the work of organised crime gangs and provide safeguarding to the innocent victims caught up in the middle. Burglary to homes and thefts from work vans were often products of organised crime groups. It was felt that a recent seizure of two containers full of stolen power tools had made a huge impact and led to a temporary reduction in this crime type. Modern slavery remained a focus and a joint initiative called Hotel Watch had proven successful to raise awareness amongst staff and managers in premises that may be used to commit exploitative crimes against young people. There was also a focus on Hate Crime which was being addressed by a new Interfaith Network made up of representatives from nearly all recognised religions groups in Aylesbury Vale. At a recent breakfast meeting hosted at the Gateway, the groups acknowledged that they had a role to play within their communities.
Consideration had been given to the renewal of Aylesbury Town’s Purple Flag status as part of the new plan having been successfully renewed annually since 2010. A review had found that, on balance, Purple Flag status was not an effective use of CSP resources as it was not a well-known scheme nationally. The award itself did not attract sufficient national marketing from the Association of Town Centre Management; the awarding body. The Partnership’s work towards high standards, for instance through the ‘Night Moves’ group, would continue as before.
There was a legal requirement for the AVCSP to produce a three year partnership strategy and annual action plans to achieve its strategy. The 2017-2020 strategy had two key priorities:
· Supporting communities and town centres to become safer, more resilient and cohesive places to live and work.
· Work closer in partnership to cut crimes that are of most concern to the public and to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.
The status of the actions planned for 2018/19 was outlined in the report as was a draft plan for 2019/20.
Members had further questions and were advised that:-
i. A co-ordinated approach to tackling aggressive begging in Aylesbury Town Centre was considered a useful allocation of resources as it could identify those that need genuine help and could be assisted under the Rough Sleeper Initiative. Officers were mindful that interventions could be subject to scrutiny e.g. Oxford
ii. Modern Slavery and procurement would be covered in the Council’s upcoming policy statement.
iii. The current terror threat was ‘Severe’ nationally and had been consistently for the last 3-4 years with some fluctuation up to ‘Critical’. There was a protocol in place for the Council building in the event of an anticipated attack. Further assessments would be carried out regarding staff safety and the office building.
The Committee were supportive of the proposed plan and there was particular support of not renewing Purple Flag status due to its resource intensity. Other comments also included the need for sensitivity when managing aggressive begging. Overall, Members were satisfied with proposed content.
That the report be noted and the Committee’s comments on the draft plan be considered by Cabinet.