Agenda item

PUBLIC SPEAKING TIME

To allow members of the public to address the Committee.

Minutes:

Mr Abbott addressed the Committee, again referring to the Committee’s decision at its last meeting to recommend that Cabinet approve an additional £27,000 for the 2020/21 Events Programme, asserting that the Committee should have asked for a detailed breakdown to check it was proposed to be spent properly and that that was the reason that it was deferred by Cabinet. 

 

Mr Abbott then referred to the new proposal for £9,999.99 additional money and asserted that a breakdown of proposed expenditure should be provided to satisfy the Nolan Principles in terms of accountability. 

 

 

Inspector Fran Harrod, Boston’s Policing Inspector, then addressed the Committee and gave an update as follows.

 

General Policing

 

In October, there had been 1,245 calls to the police, which was a decrease.  The number of crimes had also gone down to 545.  Crime reporting online had gone up to 55, which was encouraging. 

 

Many calls did not relate to police matters and often involved welfare matters, some of which were the responsibility of Social Services.  One issue that persisted, and the highest number of calls, related to incidents involving mental health issues.  About one-third of calls had an element of this.  The suicide rate was high and many reports involved a crisis, which meant the police spent a significant amount of time keeping people alive.

 

Crime types

 

The top types of crime had changed very little.  Assault accounted for 74%, showing an increase across the county.  Of these, 26% were now recorded as a second crime under the new crime-counting rules in order to record crimes that involved controlling and coercive behaviour, which meant every domestic abuse case was recorded as two incidents. 

 

Across Boston, there had been a significant increase in drug offences recorded; this was welcome news, as it meant that people were being caught and arrested. 

 

Street drinking

 

Last month, under the incremental warning system operated with the Council’s Community Safety team, six people had received the first warning letter and one person had been issued with a second.

 

Urination and defaecation

 

This had been discussed with the Community Safety team and the plan from now on was that, where there was a photo or video of an incident, the offences would be treated as littering, which the Council could prosecute.  Details could be provided by email and the press could publicise offenders in the same way as the “name and shame” littering offenders.  A fixed penalty ticket of £150 was issued.  Members were urged to encourage members of the public to make reports.  It would be well-publicised and it was hoped it would make a difference.

 

Anti-social behaviour reports

 

From 15th November, improvements had been put in place to update people who reported anti-social behaviour should receive a call back to update them on what action was taken as a result and what action they could take themselves.  This would be monitored by the Community Safety team. 

 

Homelessness

 

Following a conference organised by Boston’s former Policing Inspector, and the hard work of the Council’s Housing Solutions Manager, there had been significant progress in dealing with homelessness through joined-up work with the police and relevant agencies.  A system of colour-coded cards was being considered: first green, yellow then red.  The green card advised people that an outreach support worker would come to see them.  The second letter/ yellow card would warn that unless they engaged with help being offered enforcement was likely.  A community protection warning would be the next step. 

 

The annual homelessness count had recorded 18 people, though a few more were known to agencies as being homeless.  Prosecution was pointless; it was better for them to have help, but there were sanctions if this help was not taken up. 

 

Youths on bikes

 

Working with the Community Safety team, 20 youths had been identified causing problems on bikes in the town.  The majority had attended the station with their parents to watch CCTV that had recorded their anti-social behaviour and were then served with anti-social behaviour letters.  They were advised about the Positive Futures project, which would show them what other activities they could get involved with, but they were also warned that if youths continued to terrorise people, enforcement with partner agencies such as housing could see any tenancies put at risk.  A civil injunction was the next step if needed.

 

Clean up Boston

 

The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Safer Together Research Panel was for anyone who wanted a direct voice.  People could sign up and give their opinion whilst retaining anonymity. 

 

Recruitment

 

Boston would receive 50 new officers in the first year of the current recruitment process.  After that, figures were not yet known.  Inspector Harrod was extremely keen to secure local people to the posts and work continued with Boston College to this end.

 

Licensing

 

Inspector Harrod reported significant progress with respect to dealing with premises selling illegal cigarettes.  The Council had refused two more premises licenses following hearings based on police evidence and the police were in the process of preparing more evidence for further hearings/ reviews. 

 

Community Alcohol Partnership

 

The latest work involved students carrying out licensed premises checks and training shopkeepers. 

 

At the end of the update, Inspector Harrod urged Members to contact her should they have any questions.

 

Members’ questions

 

A Member had submitted a question prior to the meeting regarding the public’s view of “the actual or perceived invisibility of the police on the ground”, and explained that this was particularly in the Market Place and the importance of dealing with minor crime before it escalated.  Another Member referred to recent incidents of purse-snatching in the Market Place and Aldi and how people felt unsafe getting money from the cash point. 

 

In response, Inspector Harrod agreed that, ideally, there would be more police officers out in the community, which was a general view expressed by the public, but there had to be a balance of resources.  The force also often received thanks and, at times, even queries as to why there was a police presence.  It was important to raise awareness of how much was being done, as a lot of police work was not highly visible. 

 

The fear of crime in town centres was understandable.  However, a team of five officers patrolled the town centre every day; three in Fenside and two to the east going through the town centre.  Also, ongoing work with the homelessness was important to ensure people were not loitering. 

 

In response to other questions, Inspector Harrod explained that it had not been possible to train up a member of staff to deal with social media with respect to the types and numbers of crimes, as that person had had to replace another on higher priority work.  However, it was still hoped that this would happen. 

 

Young people were referred to the Positive Futures programme of activities by organisations such as the police and schools etc.  

 

Inspector Harrod was thanked for her attendance and input.