Agenda and minutes
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No apologies of absence were received.
The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 10 October 2019 were signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest.
The Committee received a presentation from Jackie Hyland, a representative of Choices which specialise in Domestic Abuse Services, informing them of the work of the project that supports victims of domestic abuse with complex needs and their children (please see supplementary).
Following the detailed presentation, Jackie Hyland fielded questions and comments from the Committee Members:
· Some victims of domestic abuse do not come forward as they think they will be judged negatively and others do not understand what is being offered or simply do not want to engage in any way
· Choices works in a multi-agency approach, signposting the services at schools and other agencies so that parents with struggling children and victims are more informed of the help that is available to people in their situations
· The refuge accommodation located in Gravesham and Dartford is designed for young women aged 18-25 who have been victims of domestic abuse; the accommodation is also suited to house their children if they have any
· Most often, schools or Early Help will refer domestic abuse victims to Choices as they do not want the help of social services. For a victim to receive help they must give their consent so if they refuse assistance from Early Help then they will refer them to Choices
· Young parents with children that are struggling are also helped by Choices as many children suffer from abusive relationships between their parents; in many examples the local schools have recognised arising issues and have contacted Choice’s so that assistance can be offered to the families
· There is no time limit on the help given as the work is carried out in the long term; the only factor that plays into length of assistance given is the amount of funding that Choices receives every year
· Choices local accommodation can provide for a total of seventeen people including children.
The Chair asked Jackie Hyland what she thought the Committee and the Council as a whole could do to improve upon and aid the services offered by Choices.
In response, Jackie Hyland advised that:
· Finding funding was a constant issue as new funding had to be acquired every year; making the project sustainable without the need to monitor funding every year would greatly benefit the service as it could carry out its work without fear of the accommodation centres having to close
· Increased promotion of the services Choices offer through Council channels and further the understanding of the projects that are at work currently in Gravesham
Following a question regarding the funding of the project, the Strategic Manager (CSU) explained that:
· The project receives no funding from KCC; it is solely funded by a grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government at a cost of circa £68,000 per annum
· That sum covers the cost of a breadth of provision including staff pay, accommodation, phones, travel, DBS checks, training, materials and a slew of other running costs
· The project makes financial sense as the overall cost is vastly cheaper directing people ... view the full minutes text for item 75.
Town Centre Policing
The Committee received a verbal update from Chief Inspector Neil Loudon informing them on improved level of policing resources that have been introduced in Gravesend Town Centre since September 2019.
The Chief Inspector, Kent Police outlined the following key points to the Committee:
· For the past couple of years, Gravesham has had a dedicated team of two PCSO’s who have had to rely on their emergency response colleagues with assistance in policing the Town Centre. However as of 07 October 2019 they have been joined by two PC’s who are the Town Centre’s new beat officers and they have been performing a fantastic job in Gravesend
· The Town Centre Policing team consisting of the two PC’s and two PCSO’s are also supported by the Safer Place Officers and the Strategic Manager’s (CSU) team of Council Officers. Additionally the two PC’s can call on their colleagues from surrounding areas to provide support with matters that require extra assistance
· The two new PC’s have been approached daily by members of the public who have been reassured seeing a Police presence in the Town every day; that Police presence has also helped with crime prevention, acting as a deterrent to potential offenders
· They have forged extremely positive relationships with local businesses and have a connection to the GSAFE team as well as working with the probation team and Sanctuary in the Town Centre. Due to their relationships and presence in the Town, they acquire intelligence much more quickly and have been able to make a number of arrests from the information provided
· They start their day (which could be at any time due to different shift patterns) by checking the overnight crime for the Town Centre, check in with the Strategic Managers (CSU) team and then walk around the Town on foot. The general ‘beat walk’ would entail checking on the High Street, engaging with the public, collating victims statements, reassurance visits and intelligence gathering etc. They have already cleared up a lot of the crime in the Town Centre during the day as they are well attuned to where the habitual offenders are and have utilised intelligence from local business and CCTV to arrest anyone carrying out criminal acts
· They have been working with the British Transport Police and Gravesend Train Station to catch offenders using the trains to get into Gravesend from Medway and London
· With the two PC’s tackling the low level crimes in Gravesend, it has allowed other officers to have more time responding to emergency 999 calls which previously might have been delayed due to those lower level crimes
· Due to the success of the patrols in the Town Centre, information has been received from residents and offenders themselves that Gravesend has become a very hard place for criminals.
· General anti-social behaviours such as street drinking, aggressive begging, fake homelessness and shoplifting has decreased in the Town, and the persistent offenders will hopefully receive court orders banning them from the Town Centre for up to five years
· Warrants ... view the full minutes text for item 76.
Members were invited to consider the terms of reference for the two topic reviews selected by the Committee: Knife and Violent Youth Crime and Town Centre Crime.
The Chair informed the Committee that the two Chairs of each Topic Review Group had decided that the Town Centre Crime review group would be deferred until May 2020 following the decision made last week at Overview Scrutiny to defer one of their reviews to May 2020. The reasons for the deferrals were due to officer resources being stretched too thin and asking too much of GBC partners in such a short amount of time.
The Assistant Director (Communities) advised that the Terms of Reference were stated in the report as well as the nominations to each Topic Review Group. The next stage will be agreeing dates for the review group meetings and discussing a workplan as well contacting all of the necessary partners to take part in the meetings.
The Committee agreed:
1. The Terms of Reference for both Topic Review Groups
2. The composition of the Topic Review Sub-Groups listed in the report
3. The Knife and Violent Youth Crime Topic Review Sub-Group will move forward and a date for its first meeting will be chosen following the conclusion of the meeting
That a start with the Town Centre Crime Topic Review Sub-Group be deferred until May 2020.
The Committee was presented with the agenda and minutes for the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel meeting held on Tuesday, 24 September 2019.
It was queried by a Member if Gravesham were likely to be a part of the mini cadet scheme.
The Chief Inspector, Kent Police advised that the scheme was currently sitting with the Superintendent who was reviewing the logistics of the scheme. However, the Committee were advised that if the scheme was progressed then a pilot would be tested in Gravesham and Dartford.
The Committee noted the information contained within the report.