To inform the Board of the current position in respect of Youth Offending. To describe Police and Partnership activity taking place to tackle and prevent offending.
In attendance:Chief Superintendent Ian Parnell (West Midlands Police); Superintendent Richard Harris (West Midlands Police); Diane Rhoden (NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB); Neil Appleby (Probation Service); Mrs Alison McGrory (Solihull MBC); Gillian Crabbe (Solihull MBC); Caroline Murray (Solihull MBC); and Councillor D Howell – Cabinet Member (Communities & Leisure).
The Board considered a detailed report setting out the current position in respect of youth offending. The report also set out the Police and Partnership’s strategic activity taking place to tackle and prevent offending.
Having considered the written report and introductory presentation by Superintendent Richard Harris, the Board asked the following questions and made the following observations:
· Cllr S Sheshabhatter highlighted the value of community engagement, particularly with schools and colleges and asked how the success of such initiatives and interventions were measured. Cllr Sheshabhatter also noted that there were fewer youth clubs now as opposed to previous years and asked if there were any plans to increase that type of provision for young people. West Midlands Police advised that, with regard to youth provision, they were currently in discussion with a number of partners (such as Urban Heard) to try to establish new youth centres subject to funding being identified. In terms of the success of ongoing engagement, the Board was advised that a view would be taken at the end of the performance year to consider how effective those initiatives and interventions had been on a case study basis.
· Cllr A Feeney noted the impact of knife crime on young people and welcomed the use and effectiveness of stop and search. Noting the policing resources allocated to schools and colleges, Cllr Feeney asked if the number of available officers (1 x Sergeant and 10 x PC’s) was sufficient to cover all the Borough’s schools. West Midlands Police explained how their engagement was undertaken and they highlighted, particularly, how their School Panels were run in the north and south of the Borough which allowed direct contact with numerous school head teachers simultaneously. The Board was also advised of Project Guardian (a Home Office funded project) which utilised data to intensify and focus patrols. West Midlands Police also confirmed that targets to undertake stop and search activities were not set.
· Cllr D Howell highlighted the value of youth work and advised that Urban Heard had been a key partner in setting up the Youth Opportunities Board for Solihull. This was a collection of youth organisations brought together to share learning and work collaboratively to produce more opportunities for youth work across the Borough.
· Cllr M Carthew asked what cross boundary work was done with schools just outside of the Borough boundary and was advised that for his ward as an example, the police would (when required) work closely with colleagues in Birmingham East NPU who would have similar initiatives in place to allow for that cross-over discussion on a need-by-need basis.
· Cllr S Sheshabhatter highlighted the growing trend of video vloggers who filmed police buildings and attempted to engage with officers before publishing their footage online. West Midlands Police advised that they were aware of this trend and all officers had been briefed as to how to respond to those individuals. The Board was also advised of the powers under the Counter Terrorism Act that would allow the police to act appropriately under circumstances that they deemed to be suspicious.
· Cllr W Qais noted that the community played an important role in reducing youth offending and asked if that aspect was working well. West Midlands Police advised that there was always work to be done to make improvements to the initiatives and engage further with the community. For much of the time, the initiatives had a good response from the community although further work around raising awareness would be of benefit. West Midlands Police highlighted that they needed to identify more role models from communities that young people could look up to and be inspired to lead lifestyles away from offending.
That, subject to the comments and views recorded in the preamble above, the Board UNANIMOUSLY made the following recommendations to the Safer Solihull Partnership and the Cabinet Member (Communities & Leisure):
(i) That, the Board notes and welcomes the current work being undertaken by the Police and the Safer Solihull Partnership to tackle youth offending;
(ii) That, the Safer Solihull Partnership and its individual partners continue to raise awareness and undertake positive community engagement regarding youth offending initiatives through timely and proactive communication campaigns and events; and
(iii) That, all elected Members assist in identifying role models from their local communities who could become engaged in initiatives to support reductions in youth offending.