(To receive an update from Inspector Fran Harrod)
Inspector Fran Harrod attended the meeting and provided Members with an update on the policing issues within the BTAC area.
There was a new beat manager, who was assisting Inspector Harrod in the town centre. It was explained that his aim was to focus on anti-social behaviour and drug issues within the town.
Four new officers would soon be arriving from their training in addition to the officers who had been assigned to Boston.
The Major Crime Unit was investigating into the recent murder in Boston, complimented by the knowledge and experience of local officers. Inspector Harrod commended the residents of Boston for the way they had rallied together and assisted Police by reporting any information they had, no matter how minor.
Two officers who were interested in transferring to Boston and had heard bad reports of the town had all commented on what a nice town it actually was.
It was a priority to the Police that young adults were made aware of the possibilities of joining the Police force and how many jobs were available within it.
In December there were 1,214 calls, 553 recorded crimes and 236 people placed in custody (which took prisoners from the both the Boston and Spalding areas).
A successful case saw three members of the public targeted relating to shop theft, which led to seventeen charges of theft. One of the individuals was sentenced to twelve months in prison and had been banned from all shops in Lincolnshire. ARC Lincolnshire, Assisting Rehabilitation through Collaboration (a multi-agency team striving to reduce offending in Lincolnshire) had been involved.
In terms of anti-social behaviour, additional priority had been given to dealing with youths gathering around McDonald’s on bikes.
Mental Health Issues
December had been a challenging period in relation to incidents involving people with mental health issues, with significant resources being focused at any time on individuals at risk. One case had involved two police officers trying to prevent an individual from jumping from a bridge, with others having to block off the road and carry out negotiations. One weekend, officers had been called to two separate suicides before 9 am, which was not unusual. One person had been making persistent calls and officers had to deal with missing persons who sometimes had mental health issues. As well as significant resources, there was the impact such situations had on officers themselves and it was credit to the station that officers coped.
The Police Licensing Section had carried out more test purchases and other licensing enforcement action, and licence revocations had received a lot of press attention, as the public were keen to know about them.
During debate, Members’ comments included people not feeling safe in West Street on an evening and no longer reporting crime because they felt the Police took no action, though others expressed the opposite view and it was remarked that the situation was not helped by negative press and social media articles.
Inspector Harrod then responded to other questions and concerns.
· The responsibility for children on bikes without lights and helmets lay with their parents. An opportunity had been given for them to buy bike lights at a discounted price. Officers planned to go into all schools and they already held actions days on this subject.
· It was a valid point that crimes committed by young people were particularly worrying and earlier interventions should be increased. This problem was increasingly approached by the Police jointly with the Council. Young suspects went before a multiagency Youth Diversionary Panel to look at interventions that might be more effective than simply criminalising them. A lot of other work was also ongoing, for example, officers often attended schools to deal with worrying behaviour and safeguarding work with troubled children. It was not easy to quantify the effect this work had in order to measure and report the level of crime prevented. The Assistant Chief Constable had spoken to Boston College students, inspiring them to aim to become police officers.
· The offer to Members to join police officers on a Ride-Along was repeated, in order to witness the positive work going on.
· There had been a shift in recent years from incidents involving excess alcohol; there were now more relating to substance abuse amongst people who often had, or developed, mental health conditions and a stance had to be taken against those selling drugs, which were cheap and easy to get hold of.
· The Boston team were skilled at problem solving, finding ways to prevent crime in the first place, the efficient use of resources and partnership working.
· Migrant workers arriving in the area recently were of a different nationality and were taking positions left vacant by previous migrant workers who had worked their way up to better jobs. Employers reported that the new arrivals did not seem to aspire work their way up the employment ladder.
· There was nothing the Police could do with respect to people moving around public areas in large groups, who were not breaking the law or causing anti-social behaviour in doing so.
· There was an equal percentage of crimes committed by those of non-English origin.
· A ‘day of action’ was held in the town centre twice a month, when Police flooded an area and stopped people who were cycling in restricted areas. This was seen as a useful exercise although it was believed that most individuals continued doing so when the officers were not there. It was important to provide a visible Police presence in the villages too; Members could contact Inspector Harrod about a day of action in their areas.
· If members of the public reported a vandalised wheeled bin it would be recorded, but not investigated as a priority.
· All authorities recognised the increase in people presenting with mental health conditions, which was also putting additional pressure on the NHS as well as the Police. A new ‘spoke and hub’ approach was to be introduced, which the Chief Inspector would be leading on. The pressure on children and young people was particularly worrying. Officers helped people in crisis as best they could.
Link up Councillor Woodliffe with the Chief Inspector in order to invite the Inspector to a Health Scrutiny Committee meeting.
· Although Ward Members reported that residents in Fenside were fearful of crime due to lack of CCTV, the Police did not find the area to be problematic. There were other areas where there were more incidents that had never had cameras. Provision of CCTV, however, was not an issue for the Police.
[Councillor Alison Austin left at 7.45 pm]
· Members could advise people, as Councillors, that they should not park on pavements where this was causing problems. Members could contact Inspector Harrod regarding any persistent issue of people parking on the pavements in a particular area and it would be addressed by the attendance of officers, a leaflet drop and random enforcement. However, if there was a large obstruction, the Police should be called and officers would attend if possible.
A Member was concerned about some referring to incidents as ‘perceived’ crime, as though they were not really happening, which made caused negativity when people wanted to work together with the Police. Inspector Harrod stressed that she did not use that term and that any unhelpful language should be challenged.
Members recognised the significant police resources used dealing with people who were drunk and/or suffering with mental health conditions. Inspector Harrod and the Police were thanked for their hard work.