For Members to consider the attached report and presentation at the meeting,
Contact officer: Will Rysdale - 01296 585561
Thames Valley Police were a key partner in the Council’s joint working including the Aylesbury Vale Community Safety Partnership. Thames Valley Police Superintendent Tim Metcalfe, the Local Police Area Commander Aylesbury Vale, attended to update the Committee on the last year’s local police operations and provide an overview on current and future priorities.
April – June 2018 had been a busy quarter for TVP with various events including the Royal Wedding in May and the visit of President Trump. Officers had been deployed from Aylesbury and Buckingham to Windsor and London. The quarter had also seen the carrying out of Operation Armenia which was targeting drug dealing. After considerable covert activity, there were six arrests, one kidnap victim rescued and one kidnap victim safeguarded. Weapons were also recovered and a vast amount of evidence was gathered. All six arrests were charged and given considerable custodial sentences. The Superintendent commented that the Vale was safer without these individuals in public. The quarter also touched on youth knife crime in Aylesbury in relation to the Walton Road attack in June 2018. This had received national media coverage; it was noted that the perpetrators were youths outside the education system.
The quarter July – September 2018 saw the carrying out of Op Advance in August which related to drugs in Southcourt. 22 street dealers were arrested in five days with the suspects having links to Birmingham. This operation was still ongoing. TVP Aylesbury Vale posted updates on social media regarding the operation which had been received positively by residents.
In the quarter October – December 2018 there had been cases of murder in Maids Moreton and attempted murder on North Drive, Aylesbury. Burglary enforcement was also highlighted and various cases were touched upon in Buckland, Wendover, Cheddington, Ivinghoe Aston and Stewkley. An arrest of three people in November 2018 was linked to total of 367 burglaries nationally. Burglary was often driven by substance abuse and the cases discussed by the Superintendent for this quarter were from perpetrators living outside the Vale which was an example of cross-border activities. The borders between Bedfordshire and Northants were common areas of movement. The Superintendent also updated Members on convictions for violence and GBH in this quarter. Drugs, gangs and vehicle theft interventions were also discussed. The interventions were often proactive police work.
The Superintendent touched upon engagement activity and the power of social media to reach out to people. Posting updates on activities were received positively by residents and had the ability to reach tens of thousands of people. An example was provided whereby one TVP Aylesbury Vale post engaged with 22,427 people and was reached by 72,188 people. March 2019 had seen the carrying out of Rural Crime Week whereby TVP organised events in communities in Northants, Bed/Herts/TVP Eastern Borders, Winslow, Buckingham, Haddenham, Long Crendon and Waddesdon.
A performance summary 2018-19 showed that:
· All recorded crime in Aylesbury Vale had increased 3% compared to 10% increase in TVP
o Within that, victim based crime had reduced 0.3% whilst crimes against society had increased 23.7%. Crimes against society were also known as victimless crimes and an increase was associated with proactive police work, not reactive. For instance, removing a knife would be under this category due to there not being a victim.
· Residential burglary: AV 7% reduction (TVP 1% reduction)
· Violence with injury (excluding domestic abuse): AV 1% reduction (TVP 14% increase YTD)
· Domestic abuse with injury: AV 16% increase (TVP 20% increase YTD)
· Serious violence: AV 52% reduction (TVP 36% reduction)
· Theft from motor vehicle: AV 24% reduction (TVP 12% increase)
o This had been achieved through the proactive scheme in Aylesbury Vale to suppress tool theft.
· Hate crime: AV 14% reduction (TVP 2% increase)
o The Superintendent was very conscious of monitoring this trend
Information was provided on how TVP were managing anti-social behaviour with Criminal Behaviour Orders. These civil orders were intended to prevent ASB before it escalated further and allowed support to be given for underlying causes of the ASB such as substance abuse. Examples were given on how the Orders had been utilised in two ASB cases in Aylesbury.
Stop & Search was touched upon with statistics based on the amount of searches carried out 2015 – 2017 versus knife crime. The statistics showed that stop & searches had dropped and that knife crime had increased. Stop & search had to be evidence based and 24% of those carried out by TVP led to arrests. Results of stop & search had been posted on social media with examples of items seized but caution was exercised to ensure public fear was not generated. Intelligence led stop & search had led to further police operations and two cases were highlighted with regards to charges of possession with intent to supply. The Superintendent felt that stop & search was an important power for the police to have.
Looking forward to 2020-21, a new Superintendent would be arriving at the end of June along with a new Chief Constable. It was felt that key issues for 2019-20 would include hate crime, drugs markets and domestic abuse. An updated TVP Plan would also be published which intended to:
· Reduce crime and incidents through targeted and effective problem solving
· Bringing more criminals to justice by improving investigation quality and timeliness
· Improve protection of vulnerable through proactive measures and interventions
· Increase victim satisfaction by responding appropriately and improving communications
Following the presentation, Members had further questions. In response, Members were advised that:-
i. The intention was to deter Class-A drug dealers from operating within Aylesbury through various operations. Drugs often motivated other criminal activities.
ii. Instances of ASB outside the Grange School had been recorded and would be picked up in the TVP patrol plan. There may be other scope for further work depending on the plan’s outcome.
iii. Officers’ usage of the Terrorist Act from a video recorded in 2014 was an inappropriate use of their powers. TVP were not considering posting videos on YouTube and would instead continue using other social media channels.
iv. The measures to reduce ASB were a better indicator of strategic success as ‘before and after’ data could be applied to specific cases e.g. number of call outs by individuals or households.
v. Collaboration with mental health service providers, such as White Leaf Centre, had improved considerably over the past few years.
vi. With the reduction of stop & search, alternative strategies were needed. To develop the strategies, work was done to understand why people carried knives. It was found that there were generally two types of people that carried a knife: 1) drug dealers for protection or 2) young people for status. TVP’s anti-drug operations should reduce the first category organically. For young people then early intervention was key. It was also noted that a stop & search that resulted with nothing found may deter someone from carrying in future.
vii. Police resourcing had been challenging but there was a gradual funding shift from national to local with council tax precepts. Precepts would mean better responses, more officers and further use of technology. TVP itself was a relatively lean organisation.
viii. The growth agenda in Aylesbury Vale, such as the NIC and Expressway, were expected to have a significant impact. The HS2 development works had already attracted threat from criminals through the tools and plants used. The funding model by central government did not take local issues, such as growth and development, into account.
The Committee were also advised that the Superintendent was moving roles so this would be his last appearance at this Scrutiny Committee. Members thanked the Superintendent for his ongoing work and support and for coming to Committee annually to provide updates from TVP. The Members wished him well in his new role.
That the Police Superintendent be thanked for attending and the update be noted.