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Agenda item

Themed Item - Update on Local Policing Model

The Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable will present the report.

Minutes:

Members were reminded that in June 2016, the Panel was informed that Thames Valley Police’s 2014-15 Delivery Plan had included an action to review the approach to Neighbourhood Policing in light of best practice nationally and emerging College of Policing evidence. The strategy for the delivery of neighbourhood policing for Thames Valley Police was intended to complement the commitment of working together to make communities safer, and comprised the following four elements: Visibility - to increase public confidence and reduce crime; Engagement - to enable the participation of communities in policing at their chosen level; Problem solving - to identify, establish causation, respond and address local problems and Community Resilience - to increase public involvement in policing.

 

In November 2017, the Panel was provided with an update on how the new Local Policing Model was being in implemented in the Wycombe Local Policing Area.

 

The Police and Crime Commissioner reported that unfortunately a written progress report providing details on the first year of operation of the new policing model had not been provided due to the recent change of Chief Constable and the work which had been taking place during the budget preparation for 2019/20.

           

The Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police attended the meeting and provided an oral update on the progress made in relation to the recently implemented new Local Policing Model.

 

The Panel was informed that the new model provided an opportunity for the Police to focus on how policing should be delivered, particularly on a local level, across the force and beyond geographical boundaries. Local Policing Areas were aligned to local authority areas, with local commanders being accountable to the Chief Constable and with a consistent approach.

 

Forces had to come to decisions as to what structures to put in place in view of the reductions in police officers. TVP were very committed to having a local policing model. The Panel was informed that some Forces have moved away from the concept of local policing, moving resources away from local areas, whereas TVP have not.

 

The Chief Constable reported that this new model was introduced two years ago against a backdrop of cuts, with a significant number of people being lost to the organisation, which included 100 plus police officers being lost to the Force.

 

The Chief Constable explained the theory of the new model was to use neighbourhood officers who were local, familiar, consistent and accessible and dealt with problem solving. There was a response function element who responded to emergency “999” calls and an investigation function whose task was to gain justice for victims.  

 

However, with the reduction in police officer numbers, the Force had to become more resilient and adaptable, in terms of dealing with the changes in the types/complexity of crimes. Less inquisitive policing was being carried out around property theft and more police time was being taken towards ‘people crime’, such as assaults, domestic violence and vulnerability crimes. This changing face of policing was increasing the investigative burden.  

 

The new operating model involved moving to smaller response teams with Criminal Investigative Detectives to deal with the increasing investigative work. These uniformed officers were also deployed as when incidents arose.

 

The new operating model was operating against a backdrop of increased demand for the Police across the UK, with “999” calls having increased nationally by 10%. Recruitment and Retention in the Thames Valley continued to be challenging, with at one stage Thames Valley Police being 150 Police Officers down. These issues impacted on the staffing structure of the new Local Policing Model, however, a decision was made to maintain neighbourhood policing, in effect ring-fencing neighbourhood police officers and Police Community Support Officers, which bucked the national trend.

 

The Chief Constable referred to the development of smarter resolution teams which were office based, that triaged some of the investigations. Initially officers were put under stress due to the staggered shift patterns to match the demands on policing. This reduced effective supervision and having too many staggered shifts did not work. Caseloads for officers had been high, there were higher levels of sick leave and the uniformed police were being stretched.

 

A review took place which changed shift patterns to enable a more effective use of resources. From February, 2018, local neighbourhood officers were combined with problem solving teams which had produced some good results, such as a 13% reduction in Missing Children.

 

Emergency Response Teams included Criminal Investigative Detectives and student police officers which created larger teams. Stronghold Teams targeted County Lines crimes, working closely with partners. Command supervision was important under the operating model, together with the good will of staff to ensure the best local policing was provided.

 

The PCC and the Chief Constable acknowledged that a written report had been requested providing details of the first year of operation of the new Local Policing, and this would be submitted to the next Panel meeting.

 

The following questions were asked and were responded to:

 

1.         The HMIC report stated that the benefits of the new model were being tracked to ensure that they are achieved. Could the PCC comment on how is he holding the Chief Constable to account on the new operating model and is it helping in the fight against crime?

 

[The PCC reported that the new model was introduced when Thames Valley Police was under pressure with having to police Royal Weddings and the President Trump visit. Thames Valley was one of few Forces that retained neighbourhood policing. Reference was made to the demographic problems of policing staff with a number of Police Officers reaching retirement age and the continuing difficulties associated with recruitment and retention within the Thames Valley region. All this was against a backdrop of rising crime and a changing face of crime. The report which would be submitted to the next Panel meeting would provide detail on how effective the new Local Policing Model was in the fight against crime”.]

 

2.         Reference was made to the smarter resolution teams and the Chief Constable was asked how officers were selected for the Teams, particularly when a particular skill set was required for dealing  with crimes such as Hate Crimes. Also In relation to commercial burglary, there sometimes was no police response to these crimes which were sometimes linked to unauthorised encampments across the Thames Valley.

 

[Individual Police Officer skills were matched to best deal with particular crimes. This ensured that maximum empathy and understanding was given to victims of these crimes who were often vulnerable people. The Chief Constable recognised the concerns expressed relating to commercial burglary].

 

3.         An update was requested on the performance of handling “101” calls in view of the recent frustrations with the service from users.

 

{The Chief Constable reported that for March, the average waiting time was around two minutes which was an improvement on last summer’s average of 6-7 minutes. The Contact Centre was at full establishment which had improved performance. Performance statistics on “101” calls would be included in the report on the Local Policing Model which would be submitted to the next meeting of the Panel.]

 

4.         The improvement in police visibility was praised, however, the constant changing of officers meant that sometimes local residents and Councillors did not know who their neighbourhood officers were. Could this information be communicated to local Councillors?

 

[It was reported that this information was known by local authority CSPs but it was acknowledged that this should be better communicated to local Councillors. This should also include who local PCSOs were.]

 

5.         Reference was made to the positive effect of social media campaigns for missing children and it was asked whether there was any data to underpin how successful social media was in this respect?

 

[The Chief Constable said he would investigate if this could be done and report back].

6.         What plans has the PCC in place in relation to improving the recruitment and retention of Police Officers in view of the commitment to recruit extra Police Officers to the Force?

 

[The PCC referred to the past difficulties of recruitment and retention in hames Valley Police caused by the high cost of living in the Thames Valley area. There had been a number of Thames Valley trained Police Officers who had moved to Force areas where the cost of housing was lower and the standard of living was better.  In addition there were a number of Police Officers who were close to retirement which would have an impact on Police numbers in the future. Pension rights for newer recruits wuld negate this issue in the future. 

 

Forces across the nation would be recruiting at the same time so it would be a competitive in terms of recruitment for Police Forces, including Thames Valley Police. The Chief Constable referred to the Police apprenticeship scheme which was successful.]

 

7.         Were there any plans to merge any Local Police areas?

 

[The Chief Constable responded that there were no plans to merge Local Police areas at this stage].

 

8.         Parts of the Thames Valley Police Force area were rural; has Thames Valley Police enough vehicle resources to enable Police Officers to police these areas efficiently and effectively?

 

[The Chief Constable reported that visibility was a challenge in these areas. However, response teams dealt expeditiously with incidents. There was an increased resilience of patrols on rural areas. The PCC explained that there was a difficult balance with policing in the Thames Valley in terms of the level of policing required in Towns and in rural areas. Reference was made to the funding which Thames Valley Police received and that an extra £100m would fund around 200 extra Police Officers. Thames Valley Police was not as well funded as other Police Forces.]

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable be thanked for the update and a written report be requested for the next meeting of the Panel, providing details on the operation of the new Local Policing Model.

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