Venue: Olympic Room Aylesbury Vale District Council Gatehouse Road Aylesbury Bucks HP19 8FF
Contact: Khalid Ahmed
Declarations of Interest
Councillor David Carroll declared a Personal Interest as the ex Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley.
Councillor Tom Hayes declared a Personal Interest as a trustee of a charity that delivers independent trauma advice in Oxford.
To agree the Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 June 2018.
The Minutes of the Police and Crime Panel meeting held on 22 June 2018 were agreed as a correct record.
[In relation to Minute No.10 – Topical Issues, that "Exploitation" be added as work programme theme in 2019 once the independent exploitation trauma advisory service in Buckinghamshire has bedded in.
In relation to Minute No.9 – Annual Review of the Panel’s Rules of Procedure, Panel Membership and Budget – that Councillor Robin Bradburn be appointed as a Member to the Budget Task and Finish Group and Councillor David Carroll be appointed to the Complaints Sub-Committee.]
Public Question Time
Anyone who works or lives in the Thames Valley can ask a question at meetings of the Police and Crime Panel, at which a 20 minute session will be designated for hearing from the public.
If you’d like to participate, please read the Public Question Time Scheme and submit your questions by email to email@example.com at least three working days in advance of the meeting.
The Scrutiny Officer for the Panel reported that as a result of increased publicity for this Panel meeting, several public questions had been submitted to the Panel for consideration. However, most of them did not meet the criteria for consideration by the Panel as they were operational policing questions and could only be answered by the Chief Constable. The Panel agreed that these questions would be submitted to the relevant Cabinet Member of the local authority and to the local area commander of the area concerned, for responses.
The following public question was submitted:
"I note that the Police budget has been cut by 20% since 2010 and there is more to come. There has been a recent upsurge in crime in our rural area and how is this further cut in the Police budget going to affect our local policing in the future. Also I understand the PCC was endeavouring to recover costs for extra security roles covered within the Thames Valley in order to mitigate the considerable impact on the budget."
In response, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) reported that there had been very large cuts to police funding over the last few years, with in real terms Thames Valley making £100m worth of cuts. This has had an impact on police numbers on the ground and has had a bearing on the rising crime rates throughout the country, although the proportionate increase in crime in the Thames Valley region, was substantially less than the rest of the country. In comparison to similar sized forces, the crime rate increase in Thames Valley has been lower. With increased cuts in funding it was inevitable that this would impact on how well the police performed.
In relation to the extra security roles which were carried out by Thames Valley Police; the visit by the President of the United States of America, and the Royal Wedding, a large number of police officers were used on these operations which did take them away from their normal duties.
The PCC was assured that the costs incurred for the President’s Visit would be reimbursed.
The rules on other big events was different, the costs incurred had to exceed over 1% of the annual Force budget before a claim could be submitted, and for Thames Valley, this equated to approximately £4m.
A Member asked if the PCC had made any representations to the Home Office regarding the scale of the cuts to police funding and the need to address this and improve the Criminal Justice System. The PCC replied that representation had been made by him, by the Chief Constable, and by other PCCs. There was a comprehensive spending review coming up and there had been a case put forward for increased funding. The formula on how funding was allocated was inequitable. Thames Valley Police received around £160 per head of population which was made up for Government Grant and Council Tax. The big northern Cities such as Manchester and Liverpool received substantially more ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
The Panel is being asked to look at the governance of the South East Regional Crime Unit and to assess how the Police and Crime Commissioner holds the Unit to account.
For this item, the Panel will hear from Detective Supt. Jess Wadsworth, Head of South East Regional Crime Unit and Katy Harris, Lead Analyst, South East Regional Crime Unit.
The Panel was informed that the purpose of the themed item was to look at the governance of the South East Regional Crime Unit (SE ROCU) and how the Police and Crime Commissioner held the Chief Constable to account for the performance of SEROCU.
The first part of the item consisted of the PCC providing a presentation on the services SEROCU provided, how it was funded and the key issues which faced the Unit.
What is SEROCU?
Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) formed a critical part of the national policing network and provided a range of specialist policing capabilities to forces which helped them to tackle serious and organised crime effectively.
• Comprised of police officers & staff from forces of Thames Valley, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and (to a lesser extent) Kent. The PCC commented that it made sense for Kent to be part of the SE but a decision had been made for Kent to be part of the Eastern region collaboration. Geographically this did not make sense to him
• Had responsibility for protecting communities in the South East from serious organised crime
• Worked in conjunction with UK Border Agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Custom and the National Crime Agency (NCA) to combat cross-border organised crime
• Supported and provided resilience to SE forces (e.g. TVP Serious & Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and Local Police Areas (LPAs) as well as national agencies and capabilities
• SEROCU was aligned with the Counter Terrorism Policing South East unit (CTPSE - formerly SECTU)
• Thames Valley Police acted as ‘Host Force’ for both services – one Regional Assistant Chief Constable leads the combined unit and reports to the Chief Constable of TVP.
SEROCU comprised of the following departments / functions: Investigations, Regional Fraud, Regional Asset Recovery, Regional Asset Confiscation, Prison Investigation, Prison Intelligence, Regional Intelligence Bureau, Govt. Agency Intelligence Network, Covert Operations, Under Cover On Line, Protected Persons, Operational Security, Cyber Crime, Digital & Technical Exploitation Capability, E-Forensics and Technical Surveillance.
The PCC referred to the work Thames Valley Police had carried out in relation to the HBOS Bank fraud and he commented that nationally not enough was being done in relation to fraud. Reference was made to money laundering into this country from countries such as Russia.
SEROCU Governance Arrangements
The Panel was informed that SEROCU and CTPSE services were delivered under a Section 22 Collaboration Agreement, signed by the respective PCCs and Chief Constables of the five South East Force areas. Members could withdraw from the S22 Agreement by giving 12 months’ notice.
The Regional Governance Board comprised the PCCs and Chief Constables of the five Force areas and it met quarterly. The Board enabled all PCCs to hold their respective Chief Constables to account for delivery of services provided on a regional basis
The SEROCU executive role was provided by the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and the Regional Assistant Chief Constable was from Thames Valley Police, with the Thames Valley PCC having the responsibility for holding the Thames Valley ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Performance Report - Police Ethics and Reform
This item has been withdrawn and will be considered at the Panel’s next meeting.
This item was withdrawn and would be considered at the next meeting of the Panel.
To note and ask questions on the topical issues report.
The Panel was provided with a report prepared by the Scrutiny Officer which presented details of topical policing issues since the last meeting of the Panel.
The PCC reported that although funding for Thames Valley Police was inadequate, for the past 12 months finance had stabilised. A major issue for Thames Valley Police was retention of staff, rather than recruitment of staff. Courses were running at a maximum in terms of numbers, but retention was the real problem, partially due to the cost of living and house prices in the Thames Valley.
The PCC reported on the success of the increase in "stop and search". When it was applied fairly and properly, this was an effective weapon in the fight against crime.
Reference was made to the recent cut-backs in Magistrates Courts which had an impact on the judicial system in terms of cases collapsing due to distances witnesses had to travel and also to magistrates themselves. There could be other alternative venues used such as the local Council Chamber of a local authority. In relation to the judicial system, a Member raised the problem of the lack of pre-trial preparation for witnesses which meant that witnesses were ill prepared, that the Courts were not made aware of any adjustments which were required. An example was given of a wheelchair bound witness not able to access the Court room for a trial. The PCC said he would investigate this and update the Panel.
The PCC updated the Panel on progress made in terms of illegal encampments. Throughout the summer, there had been a number of illegal encampments within the Thames Valley. What was required was central legislation to provide a uniform approach to this to stop the travellers just moving on elsewhere. Many of the travellers originated from Southern Ireland, where illegal encampments were treated differently, whereby those travellers who trespassed on other peoples’ land, had their vehicles confiscated. Reference was made to the protocol which the Panel had agreed which provided a consistent approach to illegal encampments throughout the Thames Valley.
A discussion took place on the problems with non-emergency 101 calls, and that some residents had to wait an inordinate length of time for their calls to be taken. The Chief Constable commented that the Police Force’s Call Centre had had a challenging last couple of months, with an increase in the number of calls which had an impact on the service. This would improve and although there were examples of residents having to wait an unacceptable amount of time for their 101 calls to be answered, the vast majority of calls were dealt with efficiently within two minutes. The Panel was asked to note that calls to the 999 service were the priority and these were dealt at an average within 10 seconds. Reference was made to the online services which residents could use for non-emergency contact which would improve interaction between the Police and the public.
A Member raised a question regarding knife crime, and whether ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
For Panel Members to put forward items for the Work Programme including ideas for themed meetings.
The report was noted.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
To note that the next meeting of the Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel will be held at 11.00am on Friday 16 November 2018, at Aylesbury Vale District Council Offices.
The date of the next meeting was on 16 November 2018 at 11.00am at Aylesbury Vale District Council Offices.