To inform the Board of the current position in respect of Neighbourhood Crime. To describe the impact of the of living crisis on this crime type. To describe Police and Partnership activity taking place to tackle offenders 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 neighbourhood crime (robbery, vehicle crime, house burglary and theft from person) and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on that crime type. The report also set out the Police and Partnership’s strategic activity taking place to tackle offenders and prevent offending.
Having considered the written report and introductory presentation by Chief Superintendent Ian Parnell, the Board asked the following questions and made the following observations:
· Cllr M Carthew highlighted crime displacement and cross boundary policing and asked for further details as to how this worked in practice to tackle neighbourhood crime. West Midlands Police advised of the typical offending profiles and work undertaken which included intelligence sharing with colleagues in Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire, together with British Transport Police and the Regional Organised Crime Unit to develop a better understanding of prolific offending. Additional work also included prison de-briefs with known offenders and the active management of released offenders within the community who still presented a risk of reoffending.
· Cllr Mrs G Sleigh asked for further details on the reported neighbourhoods within the Borough with the peak number of offences and asked if there was any information to suggest that those areas had been targeted. West Midlands Police advised that organised crime groups would typically identify certain, higher-value, vehicle types which would then be stolen to order. Other crime pattens were opportunist (i.e., theft from a vehicle to fund substance misuse). The Board noted that the geographical layout of the Borough presented some challenges for policing, particularly within the rural areas. West Midlands Police also advised that they were able to call in additional support when required from motorway and traffic officers to help cover additional ground quickly when necessary.
· Cllr S Sheshabhatter asked what proportion of uniformed neighbourhood policing took the form of foot patrols in comparison with vehicle patrols. West Midlands Police advised that virtually all uniformed officers at the Solihull NPU under the command of the Chief Superintendent would be involved in overt burglary patrols during their tour of duty. At the beginning of each shift, officers would be briefed on visible patrol requirements; some of that being on foot and some of that vehicle based and dependant on the operational needs and the type of crime in individual areas. West Midlands Police also highlighted the value of the Street Watch initiative as another visible deterrent.
· Cllr A Feeney highlighted the value of local intelligence in tackling crime and asked what work was done with prisons to share intelligence to prevent reoffending upon release. West Midlands Police advised that the Regional Organised Crime Unit led that responsibility around regional prison intelligence. Cllr Feeney also highlighted neighbourhood policing in general terms and asked, with the known budget challenges looming, would this aspect of policing still have the planned increase in resources and what the neighbourhood policing model might look like under a new Chief Constable for the West Midlands. The Board was advised that, specifically for Solihull, there were 27 neighbourhood police officers of which 6 had been dedicated to the impact areas of Smith’s Wood and Chelmsley Wood Town Centre. An Early Help Team had also been established to engage with families at an early stage to prevent crime and other associated issues. School Intervention and Prevention officers were in place to speak to young people and highlight, e.g., the dangers of knife crime, criminal exploitation and gangs. A proactive Neighbourhood Task Force Team was also working to execute arrest warrants and recover stolen property. There had also been an increase in officers within the Force’s Response, Firearms, and Investigation teams. The Board was advised that the anticipated vision for the new Chief Constable was to reposition some of the central Force resources to the local NPU’s to allow greater operational flexibility. Confirmation of what the new operating model would look like for local NPU policing would emerge in the very near future.
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 neighbourhood crime; and
(ii) That, the Safer Solihull Partnership, and its individual partners, continue to raise awareness of crime prevention through timely and proactive communication campaigns and events.