Key Issues from June Board Meeting
Published: Monday, 01 August 2011
Find out more about the issues that were discussed at the Board meeting on 24 June 2011.
Appointment of New Member to Board
The Board welcomed Councillor Jim Muirhead from Midlothian Council as a replacement for Councillor Moffat. Councillor Muirhead is also the Chairperson of the Midlothian Community Safety Partnership.
Appointment of Treasurer and Monitoring Officer
The Board appointed two officers from the City of Edinburgh Council to support roles following recent retirements: Karen Kelly (acting Director of Finance) to the position of Treasurer and Alastair Maclean (Head of Legal and Administrative Services) to the position of Monitoring Officer. More information on the roles of these officers can be found on the Board's website.
Deputation on Disability Rights
The Board received a deputation from the Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights, which raised concerns about the way disability issues have been portrayed in the media. The deputation praised the Force for the way that it has handled recent disability demonstrations in Edinburgh ; however it raised some concerns about a demonstration in Livingston .
The Chief Constable explained the Force's approach to demonstrations which aims to respect the rights of the protester to protest safely and to ensure proportionate policing. The Force is also at the forefront of hate crime reporting in Scotland , with for instance, innovative work being done with the deaf community as an example of partnership working to tackle these types of crimes.
The Board agreed to provide a copy of the multi-agency strategy on hate crime to the Campaign and asked that the Campaign submit its views on the strategy. The Board also noted that the deputy Chief Constable agreed to meet with the Campaign to discuss its concerns about demonstrations and that he would report back should any significant issues arise.
The Accounts - The Board's Underspend for 2010/11
The Board has responded positively to the current financial challenges and has achieved a net underspend of £4.8m as a result of its savings programme in 2010/11; Members congratulated the Force on its work in ensuring the programme achieved its targets.
The underspend allowed the Treasurer to carry forward reserves of £4.5m. The reserves will be used by the Board to protect services in the face of continued funding cuts.
The Board approved the draft statement of the Accounts for 2010/11 which will be now be audited by the Board's external Auditor, Audit Scotland.
Policing Performance - Crime Continues to Fall
The Chief Constable presented the performance results for the past year (2010/11) showing that overall crime in the Force area in groups 1 to 4 (crimes against the individual) fell for the second year running, by 8%. This is well over twice the national rate (see the national report on policing performance) and reflects the impact of the prevention strategy.
Members congratulated the Chief Constable on the decline in group 4 crimes (vandalism and fireraising) in the Force area; there were 3,400 fewer of these crimes during the year (equating to an average fall of 65 crimes each week). These crimes fell by over 19%, compared to a 12% fall nationally. Partnership initiatives have made an important contribution to preventing these crimes throughout the Force area.
The Board scrutinised the crime figures in detail and noted an increase in violent crime compared to last year; this is in part due to changes in reporting practices and a series of crimes which were attributable to a single perpetrator. Members discussed the role of alcohol and the changing locus of these crimes from public to private spaces and heard how the Force is tackling the increase in violent crimes and how levels have already started to fall.
Sickness absence rates amongst Police Officers are below the Scotland-wide rate but there are relatively high rates of sickness absence amongst Police Staff. The Board considered and approved an attendance management policy which will address these issues.
Chief Constable's Annual Report and Operational Update
The Board received the Annual Report which is a high level summary of Force initiatives, strategies and performance, intended for a wide readership including partners, communities and other stakeholders. The report is available on the Board's website.
Major operational activities which have taken place over the past two years include controversial marches by political groups and high profile events such as Climate Camp and the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Members congratulated the Chief Constable on the successful policing of these diverse events.
Members noted forthcoming major events which included the policing of Armed Forces Weekend, the wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall, the state opening of The Scottish Parliament and other cultural events including the Edinburgh Festival.
The Force recovers a portion of the costs of policing these events from central government on the basis of their national or international significance. However the number of events is growing and the Board requested that the Chief Constable provide a report to a future meeting outlining these additional costs with a view to seeking further support from the Scottish Government.
Transforming the Service (TTS) Update
TTS is continuing to deliver savings across a broad spectrum of Force activity and the Chief Constable thanked Members for their close involvement in the programme.
Members noted that the Force is working with Central, Tayside and Fife Forces on the 'Quad Force' shared services programme. Detailed options relating to shared training provision have been discussed and further collaboration on roads policing, specialist operations and Criminal Justice is being considered.
Partnership Working - Edinburgh Community Planning Partnership
Innovative programmes are being undertaken by the Force in conjunction with partners within the Edinburgh Partnership and other agencies, for instance:
Safer Neighbourhood Teams
Police officers work with community safety colleagues in the Council and other agencies dealing mainly with quality of life issues such as vandalism. The Board acknowledged the contribution that these teams have made to the large reduction in anti-social crimes within the Force area. The teams work closely with members of the public and community groups; the Force website contains a list of forthcoming meetings across the city.
Integrated Offender Management
This partnership, between the Force, the Council and SACRO was launched in November 2010. It is aimed at prolific offenders who support their substance abuse by committing crimes such as housebreaking or theft.
Further information on the programme can be found on the Home Office website.
Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTO) II Pilot Scheme
The Scheme offers offenders in Edinburgh and East and Midlothian the opportunity of an alternative to a custodial sentence by participating in a drug testing regime. An Evaluation of the Pilot Scheme is available from the Scottish Government's website.
Custody Visiting Scheme
The Scheme, which is run by the Board independently of the Force, helps to ensure that people held in police custody are treated fairly.
The Board reappointed five custody visitors to the Scheme and approved new security vetting procedures.
The Scheme is one of two volunteer-based schemes run by the Board to help ensure effective policing in Lothian and Borders; the second scheme covers the lay diversity advisers. For more information on these schemes please see the volunteer section of the Board's website.
Board Members have continued to meet with Force experts on a variety of topics of special interest. These activities help Members to gain a fuller understanding of operational activities. Recent topics have included city centre policing, domestic violence, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Dog Section.
The programme of visits and training opportunities for Members will be more fully developed in the coming months.
Risk Management Workshop
A recent Risk Management Workshop for Board Members, which was facilitated by the City of Edinburgh Council , was well attended. The resulting risk register will help Members monitor the risks faced by the Board as it enters a period of financial and structural uncertainty relating to the ongoing debate on the future policing of Scotland.