Key Issues from the August Board Meeting
Published: Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Find out more about the issues that were discussed at the Board meeting on 29 August 2011.
The Police Board recently met in Midlothian . Members congratulated the Chief Constable on the continued reduction in crime in the Force area. Crimes against the individual (groups 1 to 4) showed a 6% reduction in volume, and an increase in detection rates compared to the same period last year.
Antisocial crimes have also continued to fall, by 6%, as a result of:
- close joint working with partners
- the work of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams
- early intervention/engagement
- identifying hotspots
Domestic housebreaking incidents in Edinburgh have also reduced - by around one quarter - on the same period last year.
There were 48 fewer violent crimes committed across the Force area compared to the same period last year. The Board agreed to discuss the Force's violence reduction strategy in more detail at a future meeting to ensure continued emphasis was placed on reducing crimes of this type.
The Board noted that the Force currently responds to 89% of emergency calls within target time - the target, which is set nationally, is 90%. The county divisions are treated as rural areas and they are currently meeting their target response time of 20 minutes. The Edinburgh Division - which is currently not meeting its target - is treated as an entirely urban area and is subject to a 10 minute response time. Parts of the city, especially the west, are more rural in character and this adversely affects the response times. The Force will be reviewing its targets for the city.
Members considered the results of the Force's latest customer satisfaction survey. Only 60% of respondents felt that they had been adequately informed about the progress made with a reported incident. The Force is now tackling this issue as part of the Responding to Demand workstream within the Transforming the Service Programme, and the proportion of respondents feeling adequately informed has increased over the last year.
A detailed breakdown of all the performance data is available on the performance page of the Force website.
Simon San Case
The Board noted the comprehensive apology made to the San family by the Deputy Chief Constable as a result of the complaints raised by the family into the handling of the investigation into the tragic death of Mr Simon San in August last year. Board Members commended the way in which the Force conducted the complaint enquiry. However, they sought assurances that lessons have been learned from the case. Members heard that improvements had already been made to critical incident management and training regimes in order to help staff identify hate crime. The Force has commenced a further full review of these processes. The Board will consider progress on this at its next meeting.
Announcements on Police Reform were made by the First Minister on 7 September and the Justice Secretary on 8 September. Further announcements on the likely financial settlement will be made on 20/21 September. The Chief Constable assured Members that supporting the delivery of frontline services was a priority for the Force during this time of change. Members will closely monitor performance throughout this challenging period.
The Board currently earns income from the secondment of around 100 officers to external agencies; Members discussed the risk to the Board's budget if these secondments are discontinued in the longer term.
Chief Constable's Update
Inner City Riots in England
The Force sent officers to police forces in the midlands and the north of England during the recent riots, to provide cover where officers had been deployed to other forces. The Chief Constable has received letters of appreciation from those forces for this assistance. Full costs are being recovered.
Scottish Defence League
The planned march by the Scottish Defence League for September 10 was prohibited by the City of Edinburgh Council 's Licensing Committee on the grounds of public safety and public order. The Force was however fully prepared to deal with the activity undertaken by the SDL and its opponents on the day.
The Chief Constable reported on the valuable work undertaken by Special Constables who save the Force £0.6m per annum in patrol costs. The Force is not currently recruiting Special Constables, but is likely to start recruiting later this year for intake next May. For further information please see the Force website.
Transforming the Service
This major Force-wide project, which aims to improve services and save money, was launched in 2010; it is regarded as one of the best of its type in Scotland . Members discussed two of the ten workstreams:
Quad Force Project
The Force is currently working with Tayside Police , Central Scotland Police and Fife Constabulary with a view to making savings and service improvements from shared service provision in firearms, roads policing, training and the provision of legal advice, from 2012/13.
The project is on schedule to deliver over £1.3m savings in the current financial year through better control of working practices.
Members heard about the successful policing of the wedding of Miss Zara Philips and Mr Michael Tindall; no arrests were made and the objectives were fully achieved. The event involved detailed and accurate planning in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police and the City of Edinburgh Council . Assistance was given from Central and Tayside forces and Fife Constabulary at no additional cost to the Board as the deployment was treated as development opportunities for the officers involved.
The Board noted that operations like this incur additional costs for the Force by dint of Edinburgh 's capital city status. Members heard that the Force is preparing a case to be submitted to the Scottish Government to secure further funding to help pay for similar events.
Tackling Serious and Organised Crime and Major Crime
Members heard of the Force's success in tackling organised crime groups since last reporting to the Board in March. The number of groups being actively targeted by the Force has reduced from 23 to 18 and the number of people involved in organised crime groups in the Force area decreased by 11%. Since the start of the financial year:
- over £1.6m of drugs have been seized and destroyed
- 83 arrests have been made
- £250,000 cash has been seized
- £1.7m of assets have been identified and referred to the Crown for consideration of seizure.
The "Cashback for Communities" programme allows divisional commanders to bid for the money confiscated from criminals to improve outcomes for their local communities.
The Board discussed Operation Adamant which is aimed at tackling the rising incidence of metal theft in the area. Members raised concerns about the scale of the problem including the cost to the councils of repairs and maintenance to schools and other council buildings.
2011 Perception Survey
A public perception survey of 3,000 residents took place in during June and July 2011 to help the Force understand residents' views about policing and community safety in their area. The Board discussed the initial findings; the Force will publish the full results at ward level on its website. The Chief Constable will report further once detailed analysis has been concluded.
Partnership Working - Midlothian Community Planning Partnership
Members heard of the diverse range of projects involving the Force and its partners which are helping to deliver real improvements to the lives of the people of Midlothian :
- the Mark Wright Project which is based in Dalkeith and helps ex-servicemen who have been through the custody process to readjust to civilian lives
- the Woodburn and Dalkeith Intergenerational Conference which brought elderly and young people together to share experiences
- Members discussed how best practice is shared the across the Divisions. The White Ribbon Campaign is a force-wide initiative led by Midlothian officers in partnership with Lothian Violence Against Women to raise awareness of violence by men on women.
The Force will shortly hold a "mutual day" to discuss the capture and sharing of best practice from local partnership initiatives.
Lay Diversity Scheme
The Board approved changes to the Code of Practice of the Lay Diversity Scheme, following a representation from Scheme Members. Lay Diversity Advisers are independent members of the community. They monitor and influence police strategy and operations in relation to diversity and equality. They scrutinise police community relations and the police investigation of hate crime including critical incidents.
There are currently no vacancies for Lay Diversity Advisers. If you would like to be contacted when there are vacancies please contact the Police Board on 0131 529 4240 (Lay Diversity Advisers Scheme) or email email@example.com
Citizens on Patrol Initiative
Board Members have taken part in the "Citizens On Patrol" (COP) initiatives run by the Force for Members and Police Staff. They have observed the Wester Hailes Response Team and the City Centre Dispersal Team in action and attended a roads policing demonstration. Members will join the West End Safer Neighbourhood Team and the North Edinburgh Response Team in the coming weeks.
Early feedback has been very positive - Councillors Gavin Logan and Sandy Aitchison noted whilst on patrol with the City Centre Dispersal Team:
"Social responsibility shown by your officers and the genuine concern they have for the people of their patch"
"very professional 'light touch' policing which obviously has a great influence on the way people react to the fact that the police are around"
Of the Wester Hailes response team, Councillor Logan noted that the Officers on patrol:
"really impressed me with their sensitivity when they had to deal with a very difficult situation concerning an adult with learning difficulties. I was shown various aspects of their work and I also witnessed the procedure when we followed and stopped a suspect vehicle."