The Health and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder introduced an update on the work of the South Cumbria Community Safety Partnership (CSP) during 2018/19.
Councillor Brendan Sweeney, Chair of South Cumbria CSP and Chair of Barrow Borough Council, Superintendent Matt Pearman and Police Constable Kevin Jackson of Cumbria Constabulary and Mike Conefrey, Public Health Locality Manager, Cumbria County Council were introduced to Members.
The substantive report outlined that South Cumbria CSP, one of three CSPs in Cumbria, covered the areas of South Lakeland and Barrow. The CSP aimed to reduce crime and enable local communities to remain safe and reassured, without fear or threat of crime. It did this through identifying priorities (related to crime figures and trends, consultation and the Police and Crime Plan) for its annual Partnership Plan. Sub-groups were convened, where necessary, to develop projects and actions. In April 2018, the CSP had agreed to focus on four local priorities: Alcohol and Violent Crime, Domestic Abuse, Mental Health (and its impacts on the criminal justice system) and child sexual exploitation. There were four CSP meetings per annum and the Chair was currently Councillor Brendan Sweeney (Barrow Borough Council), the Vice-Chair being Police Superintendent Matt Pearman.
There had been a recent focus on serious and organised crime and Prevent (anti-terrorism) at recent meetings, with the Police providing verbal updates of the situation in South Cumbria, giving the opportunity for partners to be aware and work collaboratively where applicable.
The Crime and Community Safety Strategic Assessment for Cumbria 2017-18 stated that Cumbria was a relatively safe place in which to live, work and visit. In many areas, levels of crime and community safety issues were better than those experienced nationally and/or in the North West region. South Lakeland residents’ top three concerns were with regard to speeding vehicles, dangerous driving and rural crime.
The latest crime statistics for South Lakeland (from Cumbria Constabulary) were provided within the report. The Police had stated that there were two significant contributory factors to rising crime. Firstly, the continued increase in confidence from members of the public to report what had happened and secondly, statistics had been impacted by greater compliance by officers with crime recording practices. This was something which had been recognised nationally by the Office of National Statistics.
County Lines was an emerging area of organised criminality that saw criminal gangs from other parts of the country seeking to supply controlled drugs, frequently heroin and crack cocaine in towns and counties geographically separate from where the gang was based. South Cumbria had experienced this phenomena in all the main towns, a threat which had been tackled robustly by Cumbria Constabulary who had seen national media coverage of their approach to tackling these drugs gangs. Offenders from cities such as London, Manchester and Liverpool had all been prosecuted in operations to tackle drug supply over recent months. Operation Horizon, for example was a major operation which had lasted many months and, to date, had seen 26 offenders charged with drugs offences. This enforcement activity was supported by prevention and education work such as the ATiC project which was supported by the South Cumbria Community Safety Partnership.
In the past 12 months (2018/19) South Cumbria CSP had:-
· developed a joined up and collaborative problem solving approach to crime prevention in South Cumbria;
· developed Local Focus Units in Barrow and South Lakeland for a multi-agency approach to local, tactical issues; and
· established links between third sector and statutory agencies, e.g. Barrow Multi-Cultural Forum, the Local Focus Hubs, MIND and Morecambe Bay CCG.
Details of the projects which had been funded, and actions undertaken, to tackle the CSP priorities were provided within the report, together with other activities supported by the CSP and Cumbria-wide initiatives supported and funded by the CSP.
PC Kevin Jackson addressed the Committee and explained that, in his role as a Collision Reduction Officer, there was a strategy to reduce collisions which involved a co-ordinated multi-agency approach. He outlined the statistics for road traffic collisions and associated fatalities and went on to highlight the growing problem of drug driving. He informed Members of the success of campaigns in schools and community groups which included a road awareness package, funded by Cumbria Road Safety Partnership. The road awareness package had been introduced to most 6th Form students and it included a hard hitting virtual reality vehicle collision.
PC Jackson responded to questions and traffic related concerns raised by Members and Members agreed that they would like to have an opportunity to experience the road awareness package and made proposals for other areas where it could be rolled out.
Councillor Brendan Sweeney addressed the Committee as Chair of South Cumbria Crime Safety Partnership (CSP). He outlined the priorities of the CSP plan and explained that the CSP worked with the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Police to identify CSP priorities. He explained that the CSP plan focussed on crime prevention and victim support and went on to highlight the need to reduce the supply of and demand for drugs. Councillor Sweeney highlighted the increase in alcohol related issues, particularly in the adult population, and the role of the Third Sector in supporting those affected. He drew Members attention to priorities in the area relating to domestic abuse, protecting vulnerable people, victims of crime, anti-social behaviour and raising awareness knife crime and alcohol related violent crime.
In response to a question raised regarding domestic abuse and child sexual exploitation (CSE) statistics, Councillor Sweeney and Superintendent Matt Pearman confirmed that the data was from 2017/18 and related to the percentage of incidents recorded. Superintendent Pearman acknowledged that there was an issue regarding victim’s confidence in terms of reporting crimes and stated that there had been a huge investment in resources, scrutiny and preventative measures. He went on to explain that Barrow-in-Furness had been the first area in Cumbria to introduce a CSE Officer and following its success CSE Officers had been rolled out throughout the County.
In response to further questions, Superintendent Pearman outlined how crime figures were recorded and clarified the correct procedure when reporting a crime that did not require an emergency response. He confirmed that intelligence gathered from 101 calls was invaluable and was never wasted. Members requested that 101 call data be made available to them.
Superintendent Pearman responded to a question regarding rehabilitation of CSE offenders and explained that there was a shared responsibility with the probation service. Statutory monitoring included a Community Impact Assessment and rehabilitation management which involved visiting and engaging with individuals.
Mike Conefrey provided Members with a detailed presentation on ‘Suicide in Cumbria’. Mr Conefrey informed Members that suicide rates in South Lakeland were relatively low and he displayed slides which compared statistics throughout Cumbria, South Lakeland and England. The statistics highlighted that suicide rates in Cumbria were higher than the English average and he made reference to the link between suicide and deprivation, gender and age. Mr Conefrey went on to explain that only one third of people who took their own life had been in recent contact with mental health services prior to committing suicide. He outlined those at greatest risk of suicide which included individuals who had suffered bereavement or relationship breakdown and those with drug and/or alcohol dependency and those with a history of self-harm. Mr Conefrey informed Members that the Cumbria Suicide Prevention Strategy was overseen by Cumbria Suicide Prevention Leadership Group and the focus was: Leadership; Intelligence; Prevention; Intervention and Postvention. Mr Conefrey concluded his address by informing Members that the key messages to take away included: ‘preventing suicide is everyone’s business’; ‘every suicide is a tragedy’ and ‘suicide can be prevented’.
Mr Conefrey responded to questions raised by Members.
The Health and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder thanked all those who had made presentations and took the opportunity to wish Councillor Brendan Sweeney a happy retirement.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the report be received and endorsed; and
(2) the contribution made through the Community Safety Partnership to the following Council Plan (2019-24 target, “Working with partners to reduce domestic violence, alcohol related crime, substance misuse, child sexual exploitation and antisocial behaviour” be noted.