To consider the attached report.
The Chairman welcomed Sergeant Neil Ross from the Community Safety Team to the meeting who was attending to give an updated on the work of the EFDC Funded Police Officers. Sergeant Ross advised that the Council’s funded Police Officers became officially operational on 20 July 2018 and continued to make a real impact to the reduction in crime within the Epping Forest District.
The team were tasked according to the District Community Safety Partnership priorities which were identified through the Annual Strategic Assessment. These are aligned to the priorities set by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s (PFCC) Policing Plan. Aside from these priorities the team were occasionally deployed to support EFDC staff in carrying out their work where there was an identified threat, harm or risk to staff. Close management of the tasking process has ensured that the police team were deployed efficiently and effectively.
A problem profile, commissioned by the Community Safety Partnership, showed that crime in general had reduced across the district since June 2018.
The team have completed over 55 specific tasking requests over the last twelve months and have been active in every ward in the district. A few examples of work they have undertaken between January 2019 to date are detailed below:
Forthcoming Hub Activity in 2019
The team were currently working with Hainault Police to deliver education packages to local schools identified to be at risk from cross-border gangs/exploitation. This formed part of Operation Rose which was the county lines operation in late 2018. Both forces were seeking to plug the gap and prevent a resurgence of county line activity in the district. The police and Council team continue to meet regularly with Met Police and BTP to share intelligence.
The team would be also leading on a number of operations for Operation Sceptre which was the national campaign tackling knife crime and associated offences. These operations will focus on targeting vehicles linked to crime using key routes in and out of the district.
Councillor J H Whitehouse asked about the District Community Safety Partnership, she stated that the team was tasked with priorities which were identified through the annual strategic assessment and are aligned with the Police and Crime Commissioner priorities and asked how the document was put together and who was involved.
The Safer Communities Office, P Gardener advised that it was a requirement of the Council to provide a strategic intelligence assessment with regard to crime and disorder. The assessment would be done in conjunction with a Police analyst and we would look at the shape it produces in relation to demand, crime types, violence and vulnerability. From the information gathered the Safer Communities team were required to produce an annual partnership plan which should reflect the priorities of the need of the district.
Councillor J Lea stated that she had received a number of complaints regarding vans pulling up in a quiet cul-de-sac and they would transfer goods from one van to another in the early hours of the morning. P Gardener advised Councillor Lea to speak to him after the meeting and he would be able to pass this over to the correct team.
Councillor D Wixley highlighted that last summer there were problems in Loughton with youth coming from out of the district and attacking and robbing people in the district and asked if there were any plans to combat this problem.
Sgt N Ross advised that plans were in place for this summer but that he could not go into any detail.
Councillor A Patel stated that if the Council were funding the Police Officers then a Police Officer should be available to go into schools with the Crucial Crew to educate children of school age about the risks and dangers there were to children in the district. G Wallis advised that Essex Police were stretched and the Council were aware that the strategy was for the Police to use Special Constables to support wider community initiatives where possible. However, the Council were very keen for Essex Police to contribute to the education programmes which the Council facilitated, including projects like Crucial Crew and school based delivery.
Councillor J H Whitehouse asked why the Police had to support the local election process through visiting polling stations and providing cover for the count. Councillor N Bedford advised that this was an essential part of the election process as there was a heightened risk of person turning up to cause trouble especially late at night. He also added that it was reassuring for the polling stations to know that the Police were on call and that everyone was treated the same. It was also a Government requirement.
The Chairman stated it was imperative that staff at the polling stations and staff and Members at the count felt safe, she knew of incidents where people were verbally threatened outside polling stations and she had also experienced being threatened at the count.
The Chairman referred to the resource implications where the Council had agreed funding for three years for the Police Officer at a cost of £555,000 and asked if the Committee could have a breakdown of where the funds were going. Councillor S Kane stated that the amount of £555,000 was a contractual obligation and the three funded Police Officers provided a service across the whole district.
Councillor S Rackham stated that EFDC should be commended for taking the initiative to fund 3 Police Officers for the district.
Councillor N Bedford advised that he had attended the Police and Crime Commissioner meeting and was impressed with the figures that were coming through that 350 new Police Officers had been recruited in Essex. He also stated that Essex had the highest number of Special Constables and other authorities were using this Council’s model as an example.
That the Stronger Communities Select Committee agreed to receive a six monthly report on the work and range of operations of the Council’s Funded Police Team.