Agenda item

Reducing the Fear and Perception of Crime

The Panel will consider an overview of the partnerships initiatives in place which work towards reducing the fear and perception of crime within our Borough’s communities.

The Panel will consider examples where there has been Partnership activity in specific areas to tackle and target individual local issues. (i.e. to demonstrate that the Partnership are understanding and addressing local problems).

Minutes:

In attendance: Inspector Stephen Malone (Partnership Lead - West Midlands Police).

The Panel considered an overview of the Partnerships initiatives in place which worked towards reducing the fear and perception of crime within the Borough’s communities.

The Panel considered examples where there had been Partnership activity in specific areas to tackle and target individual local issues in an attempt to demonstrate that the Partnership had understood and were addressing local problems.

The Panel welcomed Inspector Stephen Malone to the meeting who outlined that despite the numbers of reported crime steadily reducing over the years, communities still told us that the fear of becoming a victim of crime was still prevalent. As well as providing information on perceptions and recorded crime, the report set out a number of case studies that demonstrated how the Partnership responded to community safety issues and to build confidence in Solihull’s communities. The remaining report and supporting information was taken as read.

In summary, the Panel made the following observations as part of their deliberations:

  Current affairs and media reporting (local and national issues) were said to contribute, in part, to a heightened fear of becoming a future victim of crime, despite there being an actual reduction in recorded crime in 2014, as compared with 2013.

  In some areas, public perception was that Police patrols/Partnership activities were less visible although this was not actually the case.

  The Partnership was working towards improvements in their communications to ensure that “good news stories” were regularly and actively publicised to lift public confidence and help reduce the fear of becoming a victim of crime amongst communities. West Midlands Police now had a resident journalist, whose purpose was to help strengthen links between the media and the partner agencies.

  Social media was a very powerful and modern tool to communicate with and publicise Partnership activities. However, it was recognised that Solihull had some very high proportions of elderly residents and more traditional methods of communication to those audiences sill applied with equal importance.

  “Key Individual Networks” and re-formed Independent Advisory Groups made up of community representatives were able to offer feedback to agencies and act as a community voice. The Panel noted that these initiatives performed better in some areas of the Borough than others. Such barriers to success were weaker KIN’s in parts of the Borough with higher levels of reported crime. The key role of Elected Members in community communication was also acknowledged.

  Members welcomed the inclusion of inconsiderate parking and speeding traffic as a Partnership priority and were encouraged by the activities planned in 2015/16 by the Partnership to tackle these aspects of ASB.

  Funding reductions within West Midlands Police had a massive impact on service delivery over the last 4 years. This had meant that there was now more emphasis than ever on successful partnership working and community integration initiatives. Whilst there were several examples of successful initiatives, the Panel welcomed the mind-set that the Partner agencies were always looking at new opportunities.

  Surprisingly, other visible “uniformed” presences in local communities gave heighted reassurances and, in some cases, deterred criminality. Two proven examples were traffic warden patrols (CEO’s) and the Fire Service making return journeys through local communities with higher levels of reported crime.

  Bail hostel’s gave rise for discussion and it was considered important that potential reoffenders were made known and monitored by the correct agencies when their placements began in such properties. Whilst West Midlands Police set out the normal expected protocols (the PINS process), a Member gave a recent example where this process may not have happened.

  West Midlands Police emphasised the importance of data sharing between Partner agencies and gave reassurances to the Panel that Solihull LPU would work proactively to ensure that there were no barriers within their control to hinder this.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

The Panel:

(i)  Supported further work being done by the Partnership to improve communications to promote their work – particularly recognising the importance of communicating “good news” and Partnership initiatives that are benefiting local communities. It was acknowledged that Elected Members had a role to play in this too;

(ii)  Welcomed the continued use of social media etc but recognised the challenges of communicating with parts of Solihull will high proportions of elderly (and/or vulnerable) residents where more traditional methods of communication and publicity may be a more effective option;

(iii)  Supported the work being done to strengthen other relationships such as with the local media (WMP resident journalist) and the “Key Individual Networks” in parts of Solihull where this initiative needed to be strengthened;

(iv)  Highlighted the importance to local communities of initiatives to tackle inconsiderate parking and speeding and looked forward to those priorities being further taken forward by the Partnership during 2015/16; and

(v)  Acknowledge community integration initiatives (and reach-out projects) as highly valued and beneficial and the Panel welcomed their ongoing continuation.

Supporting documents: