Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions
Contact: Committee Section Email: email@example.com
Apologies for Absence
The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, 15 March 2022 were agreed and signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
Cllr Leslie Pearton declared an interest as his daughter was a prison office at Warren Wood.
The Committee were provided with the final recommendations of the Knife Crime and Serious Youth Violence Topic Review that were previously reported to the Committee.
Members were asked to note and comment upon the recommendations of the Topic Review Group and offer any further suggestions that could be submitted to the next Gravesham
Community Safety Partnership meeting in January 2023.
Cllr Tony Rana, as Chair of the Review Group, guided members through the report and explained that the Topic Review concluded that there were several key tasks that should be taken on board and progressed via Gravesham’s CSP namely:
· That partners needed to ensure that knife crime and serious youth violence statistics are not provided/shared in isolation but alongside supporting contextual information to give a more accurate picture of the level and nature of these crimes. This is particularly important when statistics/data are being made available in the public domain
· That the CSP review and agree the best means to communicate information on crime issues with local people, to keep them informed of the ‘real’ level of violent crime in the Borough i.e., that compared to many areas (including some other Kent Districts), crime in Gravesham is not high and the Borough is a safe place in which to live and work. This will help to build confidence, maintain perspective and challenge poor perceptions that may be held
· That efforts be made to raise awareness of the wide range of youth activities that are available to young people across the Borough, most of which are free of charge, and how to access them so that more young people will be encouraged to take part
· To understand and promote the beneficial role of Neighbourhood Watch in local communities, review the current number of active Schemes, identify areas in which Schemes could be introduced and to explore opportunities to support the expansion of Neighbourhood Watch Schemes more broadly within Gravesham.
The Committee raised concerns that that there was a general fear of reporting crimes by residents in the Borough which meant that a large number of crimes weren’t being reported to the Police. Members asked that the wording in the report be amended from ‘actual crime’ to ‘reported crime’.
In response to a Member's question concerning sentences for carrying knives, the Inspector, Kent Police advised that carrying a knife was a serious offence and currently, certain groups were lobbying for mandatory prison sentences for anyone caught carrying a knife. There were two types of charges that could be made; flick knifes/butterfly knives etc were classified as a bladed article and items such a screwdriver could be classed as an offensive weapon.
The Inspector, Kent Police further explained that the joint operation with British Transport Police and the knife arches placed at the train station were preventative work; they sent out a message to the public that people carrying knives weren’t wanted in Gravesham and they would be targeted by Police. The Inspector, Kent Police acknowledged that the knife arches could contribute to ... view the full minutes text for item 43.
The Committee were provided with the findings and recommendations of the Town Centre Crime Topic Review.
Members were asked to consider and comment upon the findings of the Topic Review Group and on the recommendations to be submitted to the next Gravesham Community Safety Partnership meeting in January 2023 as detailed in the report.
Cllr John Caller guided Members through the report and directed their attention to 2.4 of the report which held the suggestions for addressing the issues identified in the Town.
Cllr Caller advised that having considered experiences and discussed possible suggestions for addressing the issues identified, the Topic Review Group agreed the following final
· That there should be a concerted campaign aimed at changing public
perceptions of Gravesend through accurate and positive reporting of the
‘real’ levels of crime so that fear of crime and negative impressions of risks
to personal safety can be minimised
· Working in partnership is essential to continue achieving further reductions
in crime (and ASB) - this includes not just statutory services and businesses
but local residents too. Underlining the message of the need to report
incidents is crucial to ensuring that partnership activity and any additional
resources are properly targeted
· There needs to be more effective communication of ‘good news’ about what
the town centre has to offer, ongoing improvements and planned activities,
to encourage a greater footfall both in the daytime and the evenings, so that
Gravesend builds a reputation of as a safe socialising environment
· Greater awareness of the range of existing activities that are available for
young people to access needs to be achieved to encourage take-up
together with more consultation with young people about what they feel they
would like to see made available to them
· Subject to resources, a series of community events should be held to
promote Gravesham as a whole
· The displaying of messages about expected standards of behaviour e.g.,
‘Anti-Social Behaviour will not be tolerated’ to be promoted
· Consideration should be given to the creation of a separate website
dedicated to celebrating good news about the Borough e.g., Amazing
Gravesham, to supplement the Council’s website which is primarily focused
on services and the Discover Gravesham website which concentrates on
information for visitors and tourists.
The Assistant Director (Communities) directed Members attention to 2.4.2 of the report which held suggestions that were raised outside of the meeting but would still be incorporated into the recommendations if necessary.
The Committee thanked the officers for their hard work in completing the review.
Members noted the recommendations of the Topic Review Group and agreed for them to be submitted next Gravesham Community Safety Partnership meeting in January 2023
The Committee were given an oral update on Police work in the Borough by Inspector James Beautridge from Kent Police.
The Inspector, Kent Police advised that recent statistics had shown that crime had fallen in the Borough; the biggest of which was cases of anti-social behaviour which had fallen 38% across Gravesham.
The Inspector, Kent Police further outlined the following key points:
· Additional resources had been allocated due to the football World Cup being held in November/December 2022; highly visible Police would be walking around the Town Centre and pubs in the Borough would be covered by roving Police patrols. The Safer Spaces scheme had been promoted and early visits had already been conducted to licenced premises
· Police Officer numbers in the Town Centre would be boosted at Christmas to combat any spike in retail thefts; a number of offenders were due to be released from prison soon and uniformed officers would be welcoming them back to the Borough with visits to their homes
· The Community Safety Shop would be set up in the St George’s Centre in December 2022 and would be staffed by council officers and Kent Police
· Kent Police attended a recent PACT meeting with Cllr Milner in the Riverside wards as well as a walk and talk event in Lawrence Square with Housing Officers which proved successful. Those events were held monthly in different areas
· The Inspector, Kent Police promoted the ‘My Community Voice’ website and asked that Members sign up to it as it was an excellent way of getting in touch with Kent Police and reporting issues
· Crime had decreased at the Promenade since it became more heavily policed with uniformed and plain clothed patrols at work there. Robberies had decreased since the summer as all three criminals who had conducted the robberies were in prison. There was still some low level ASB and drug dealing in the area
· Recent funding received from the Home Office meant that there would be more uniformed patrols in hot spot areas
· Weapon offences had risen but that was a good thing as it meant that the Police were searching the right people and getting the weapons and the offenders off the streets
In response to a Member’s question about unreported crime the Inspector, Kent Police advised that they were only able to go by the statistics for reported crime; the statistics showed that overall crime was dropping in the Borough, but it did not take into account cases of unreported crime. The Inspector, Kent Police agreed to share the crime statistics for Gravesham with Members outside of the meeting
In response to further questions from Members, the Chief Inspector and Inspector for Kent Police explained that:
· Kent Police drew on other intelligence for example, officers worked with hospitals to monitor any patient admissions that suffered knife injuries but hadn’t reported anything; that data would be compared with Police held data to ensure that nothing had been missed. Data was also gathered from neighbouring districts to see if ... view the full minutes text for item 45.
Safer Streets Round 4 Project
The Strategic Manager (CSU) advised that a detailed written report would be brought to the next meeting in January 2023.
The Strategic Manager (CSU) gave a verbal update to the Committee on the main headlines of the Safer Street Round 4 Project:
· The team worked with a colleague at the Police Crime Commissioners (PCC) office to work on a bid for Home Office funding; the bid was successful and approximately £62K was granted. That was matched by the Council’s own funds. By January 2023 the project should have had more time to develop
· The project included eight new permanent CCTV cameras for the Town Centre.
· The Council were looking at upgrading seventy heritage streetlamps, thirty-seven of which would be funded by the Home Office funding. Planning permission for the lamps was sought and the design had been approved; the work just had to be programmed into the schedule
· The footpath from the Overcliffe to the Thamesway/industrial park area had been left unmaintained for years; the vegetation would be cut back, the fly tipping cleared, lighting improved, and two cameras covering the entry and exit points installed as part of the project
· The team worked closely with the GSAFE radio system; the Council wanted to encourage more businesses to sign up to the scheme but some of the businesses had been hit hard over the pandemic and couldn’t afford to join. To combat that, the project included funds to purchase twenty new radios to give to willing businesses on a free six-month trial. Part of the fund would also be spent to fix the recent issue with radio link where the signal between security staff and Police had been negatively affected
· Included within the bid was a target of twenty ‘safe spaces’ within business premises in the Town Centre; anyone who felt vulnerable could go to one of those ‘safe spaces’ and request the need to use it to staff who would all be trained to deal with any issues. Bystander training would also be given to Council staff and night-time business staff too
· A conference social event was held every year and held discussions around domestic abuse, harassment, stalking, modern slavery and alcohol abuse etc; the event encourages people of all diversities to join in and an event is planned for March
· Two night time economy audits were planned to be completed; the first audit was completed in October 2022 and the second was due to be completed in September 2023. Council officers and a few Members went out in the Town Centre between 17:00pm and the early hours of the next morning on a Friday night in order to see what the Town Centre was like during those hours. A survey was carried out with public and business representatives and further information would be gathered at the next night time audit in 2023
A number of suggestions were raised by the Committee:
· The programme used for installing the heritage streetlamps should also include a programme of planned maintenance instead ... view the full minutes text for item 46.
The below link takes you the agenda and minutes for the meeting on Thursday, 16 June 2022:
The Committee were presented with the minutes of the Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel meeting held on Thursday, 16 June 2022.
The Committee noted the minutes.