Agenda item

Dartford and Gravesham Community Safety Strategy 2019-22 - Priorities

To inform the Committee of the agreed priorities for the new CSP Community Safety Strategy 2019-2022.


Members were apprised of the Dartford and Gravesham Community Safety Partnership’s (CSP) new three year Community Safety Strategy 2019-22 and the priorities contained therein. The Strategic Manager (Community Safety Unit) advised that the first stage had included a strategic assessment. Once this assessment had been completed, a very brief public consultation exercise had taken place in an effort to clarify resident’s concerns with regard to their neighbourhoods and 420 responses had been received. There had been a clear indication of priorities which had included anti-social behaviour (mainly low level but persistent), petty vandalism, litter and graffiti. Residential burglary and town centre safety had also been flagged. A low level of concern about violence had been expressed. In identifying priorities officers consider certain criteria including volume, trends and the added value that could be provided through partnership working. Members noted that it had been difficult to undertake year on year comparisons of recorded crime because of changes in Home Office Counting Rules and definitions but year on year analysis should begin to be possible from 2019/2020 onwards.

The Strategy would be published on the Council’s website in mid-April and would run for 3 years. The Strategy had been designed to be able to respond to changes in trends and legislation etc and the Members’ attention was drawn to the diagram on page 17 of the agenda which was used to communicate the aims of the Strategy to members of the public. Performance indicators had been included in the Strategy and would be reviewed on a quarterly basis.

The Chair thanked the officer for a useful and easy to understand document.

Following questions from the Committee, the Strategic Manager (Community Safety Unit) highlighted the following:

·         A comment was made on paragraph 1.3 of the report which appeared to say that decisions on the priorities to be included in the Strategy had been made before the public consultation exercise. The officer clarified that the CSP had received the Strategy after the completion of the strategic assessment. This had taken place in January 2019 when the priorities had been approved based on the assessment alone. Following this, the public were approached with regard to their views. The Strategic assessment only considered recorded data and the public’s opinion was sought on issues that actually affect their lives. There was also an element of under-reporting of certain issues. The officer was requested to rewrite this section.

·         The officer explained the design of the questionnaire and gave an example of the questions therein. The questionnaire did not contain much data as the honest opinion of residents was required and it was intended that this exercise be repeated on an annual basis. The Strategic Manager (Community Safety Unit) was requested to advertise the questionnaire and to aim for a broader sample in future. It was also agreed that Members be sent the questionnaire.

·         It was noted that a consultation could be skewed by a number of factors including gender, age and perception and any conclusions should be tempered with this knowledge.

·         Members were advised that the priorities had been agreed as a partnership and resources could be sought from all partners. It was noted that anti-social behaviour took up most of the time of the Community Safety Team and referrals from all kinds of places were received daily. The Police had to prioritise certain incidents at certain times depending on the level of severity and risk. For example, domestic abuse was not a high priority according to questionnaire responses, but it still took up a lot of time police time.

·         The advice of the Communications Team had been sought when undertaking the consultation. The Communications Team had taken over publicising the questionnaire and had advertised on the Council’s social media pages, on the Council’s website and in the staff newsletter. The key age groups of respondents had been as follows:


66% female

55-64 years – 27%

45-54 years – 26%

30-44 years – 14%

This spread had been much better than in previous years.


·         Acting Chief Inspector Neil Loudon explained that Dartford and Gravesham were served by two police teams. The first was the local district team who responded to the highest impact scenarios and the most vulnerable in the community and generally only dealt with emergencies. The Community Safety Unit comprises three sergeants, three police constables and PCSOs and this team tackled lower level crime. Neither team was rich in resources.

·         Following a question on “designing out” crime, the Committee was advised the physical works were routinely undertaken. An example was given with regard to the issues in Queen Street, Gravesend running down to the Riverside. A successful bid for funding had enabled the installation of two HD wireless high specification CCTV cameras (not covert) at either end of Queen Street which solved the problem of the gap in coverage. In addition, such actions as the closure of alley ways, the planting of prickly plants in planters to discourage loitering street drinkers had been undertaken and crime was designed out as much as possible. However the displacement of the activity also had to be taken into account.

·         The second paragraph of paragraph 2.1 (iv) was highlighted and the Strategic Manager (Community Safety Unit) explained that there was a reluctance of victims to report certain types of crime because they sometimes experienced them so frequently that they could become normalised or some behaviour was not considered serious enough the report, for example racial verbal abuse on the daily commute to school, and therefore this was an issue the CSP wished to address. There had been a very good local campaign and a recent funding bid to the MHCLG had been successful and it was intended that the “No Space for Hate” campaign be increased and developed. This was not to be seen as an admission of failure but a need to know more detail and to continue to build victim’s confidence to report. Acting Chief Inspector Neil Loudon explained that hate crime was recognised as an issue that needed to be addressed and the police were briefed every morning on what had come in. However, he advised significant hate crime was very rare.

·         The Committee was advised that hate crimes on social media were closely monitored. Victims of online hate crime who approached the police were offered support and, if appropriate, police action. However, despite this message being places on the social media pages of the police, victims were still reluctant to come forward.

·         Members were advised of a meeting being arranged by Anita Tysoe – Service Manager (Customer and Theatre Services) for the week after next to discuss community cohesion issues in the current climate.

The report was noted.

Supporting documents: