56.1. The Chair welcomed Mr Tim Passmore, Police & Crime Commissioner for Suffolk, to the meeting.
56.2. Mr Passmore provided an overview on the service and confirmed that following the increase in Council Tax last year, an extra 21 Officers had been recruited across Suffolk (3 Police Sergeants and 18 Police Constables) of whom were highly trained, equipped with great technology and responsible for tackling significant issues such as organised crime groups. The increase had also ensured the recruitment of eight extra Officers within the Ipswich Safer Neighbourhood Teams and 45 new employees, which continued to make a big difference to policing . There would always be a need for extra resources however, the funding model used by Central Government meant unfortunately, funding continued to be limited for Suffolk.
56.3. County Lines continued to be one of the biggest challenges facing Suffolk of which progress had been positive and had resulted in a number of arrests. Other important issues included knife crime, illegal immigration and modern day slavery, and a multi-agency approach would be used to continue to tackle this.
56.4. Mr Passmore confirmed that the new Police Station, which would be joint with Suffolk Fire & Rescue in Queens Street, was due to open in 2021 and would be a state of the art facility.
56.5. With regards to commissioning work, the Police Cadets had been expanded and a new Youth Intervention Fund had been established where applications could be made for funding by organisations who delivered services which supported young people. This had been highly successful and the results would be published later in the year.
56.6. The Government had announced their police officer uplift numbers and it was anticipated that 50-60 new Officers would be recruited within Suffolk over the next few years. This would increase Officers by 15% and would be transformational for policing in the area. With regards to this years’ Council Tax, an online survey had been published with a 4% increase assumption made, which showed the areas where this extra money would be allocated. All residents were encouraged to undertake the survey which was available on the Suffolk Constabulary’s website.
56.7. The Chair thanked Mr Passmore for his presentation and questions were taken from the Councillors and residents.
56.8. Councillor Cenci: What are the Police doing with the anti-social behaviour and intimidating behaviour in the town centre, where many women feel vulnerable in some parts?
Mr Passmore advised that perception was key and there had to be increased publicity with regards to what the Police were doing. However, this did not undermine the fact that police presence within the town was important.
Acting Inspector Kirsty Graeffe confirmed that social media was being used to publicise the Police’s work however, there had to be a combination of both online communication and Officers seen in the town.
56.9. Councillor P Smart: With regards to exploitation issues and joint working, In November 2018 the Police and Ipswich Borough Council visited a property in Harland Street where 27 people had been living within a four bedroom property. The offenders had recently been successfully prosecuted and this highlighted the importance of joint-working.
Mr Passmore agreed and advised that both rogue landlords and domestic slavery would continue to be considered and tackled.
56.10. Councillor Allen: What agencies would be involved when supporting victims of cases such as the above? Where would people be housed and what support would be provided?
Mr Passmore confirmed that a number of services would be collectively responsible for providing support and a multi-agency approach would be undertaken. Acting Inspector Kirsty Graeffe commented that victims would be fully supported through the various processes by the appropriate services, such as during court proceedings.
56.11. Councillor Ellesmere: To help improve the perception of the town centre, could an eye-catching initiative around antisocial behaviour in the town be considered?
Mr Passmore advised that Suffolk Constabulary were encouraged to publicise the Days of Actions held and to work alongside Ipswich Central. There had been a number of good undercover success rates recently which could be revealed following the event, and it was hoped that this would help act as a deterrent. However more resource would always be desired and the suggestion of a new initiative would be explored further.
56.12. Councillor Rudkin: With regards to the response times to 999 calls, how could reassurance be given that following a call, people would get the appropriate support from the right service?
Mr Passmore confirmed that the statistics from all 999 calls were monitored on a monthly basis which included how quickly a call had been answered and the response rate following a call received. Last month, this had been 93% on target. Should there be any concerns regarding a specific incident, residents were encouraged to contact the constabulary so that this could be investigated further.
Acting Inspector Kirsty Graeffe confirmed that a triage process was in place with regards to how 999 calls were managed and all calls would be assessed using the THRIVE matrix, where an assessment would be made as to which service was required and graded A-D. Phone calls graded D meant no police presence was required and a call graded A meant police assistance was required immediately (within 15 minutes). All calls would be logged and shared immediately with the appropriate service for them to assess further.
56.13. Councillor C Smart: Following recent reports that confidence in Suffolk Police was amongst the lowest in the Country, what could be done to restore public confidence in the Police Service?
Mr Passmore responded that this was an important issue whereby due to the high amount of public engagement and generally good support for the Constabulary, the recent reports had been a surprise. Suffolk Constabulary would be undertaking their own analysis and survey around this issue however, it was anticipated that low confidence could be due to resource challenges and communication. Discussions would continue to be undertaken within the force to improve this issue and further considered by the Police & Crime Panel.
56.14. Councillor T Grant: Will there be an increase in support staff?
Mr Passmore confirmed that the extra funding for police officers also included money toward the recruitment of support staff. It would be a challenge to recruit the numbers of officers under the Government’s new uplift numbers however, a welcome one, and this would include a number of different career roles within the Police.
56.15. Councillor Allen: With regards to the perceptions of the town centre, there had to be mindfulness that local newspapers could report more ‘bad’ stories than ‘good’, and this may have an affect on people’s perceptions.
Mr Passmore commented that dealing with people’s perceptions continued to be challenge. Town pastors had been funded and work was undertaken with Ipswich Borough Council to provide a Taxi Marshalling Scheme which made a big difference at weekends. With regards to a point made earlier, large groups of people could not be dispersed unless they were engaged in illegal activity.
56.16.Resident: With regards to the town centre perception, over the Christmas there had been a number of shops with windows broken by children as young as twelve and there had also been thefts from a shop on St Peters Street. It was important that police were seen patrolling the streets as people had started not reporting crimes as they felt there was no point.
Mr Passmore advised that he suspected that one of the issues which would come up in the next survey would be around communication and it was important that improvements would be made. He reiterated his point about the funding formula used by Central Government which allocated what funding would be provided to which police forces in the country and how this had to change. Evidence about any crime committed was important to show how further resources were required, and residents were strongly encouraged to report any issues to the Police.
56.17. County Councillor Abbott: Nationally there had been a rise in anti-Semitism in politics and society, and an increase in hate crime of other incidences. What are some of the things Police are doing to try and relieve this?
Mr Passmore responded that there were a huge number of different groups and communities within society, of which they were there to represent everyone. With regards to hate crime specifically, this was an important priority for the Constabulary and continued to be tackled.
56.18.The Chair thanked Mr Passmore for attending the South West Area Committee meeting.