Agenda item

North Yorkshire Police Harrogate District Overview and Scrutiny Commission Report - June to September 2021:

North Yorkshire Police to provide a written report. Superintendent Steve Thomas and officers from the Neighbourhood policing team to be in attendance.

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the item, welcoming Detective Superintendent (DSI) Steve Thomas from North Yorkshire Police (NYP) to the meeting. NYP had submitted a written 

report providing detailed local crime information for the period June – September 2021. The Chair thanked NYP for the informative report which had been prepared by members of the Neighbourhood Policing Team Harrogate Inner (Nicola Colbourne) and Harrogate Outer (Alex Langley). DSI Thomas provided Members with an overview of the information within the report, this included:

 

·       Significant increases in demand generally, including call-volumes over the summer months, with levels returning to normal in September 2021.

·       Recruitment had been ongoing and once training was complete there would be an uplift in staff levels.

·       There had been an increase in Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) particularly in Ripon. NYP had developed bespoke operations, working with the community and partners to address this (Op. Change and Op. Driver). Some individuals involved were also involved in serious crimes and use of motor vehicles in an anti-social manner. NYP had been successful in disrupting this.

·       ASB had also been an issue in Harrogate, NYP had increased visibility (including high profile media campaigns) and again targeted motor vehicles being driven in an anti-social manner.

·       Increasing use of social media and monitoring how posts were shared. It was noted that this was improving the way people think about community safety and police responses.

·       NYP and HBC had worked together looking at multiple occupancy housing and specific properties/landlords. Detailed information was within the report.

·       Tackling knife crime through Op. Disarm. A partnership response and significant resource focussed on education meant a reduction in this type of crime locally, reports were decreasing for first time in 18 months.

·       Vehicle crime had seen a significant decrease, this was due to covert tactics and high visibility. Bicycle thefts had also reduced.

·       There had tragically been two murders one was at Mayfield Grove and one at the Majestic Hotel, NYP had sought to reassure the community following these serious incidents.

·       It was reported that someone was seriously injured in an incident that had taken place at Ashville College, firearms officers who were present had acted to provide critical first aid. Following this NYP had worked with independent schools to look at security of sites.

·       It was noted that burglary was a crime that could be a particularly impactive offence for victims, and it was reported there had been a significant decrease in 2 in 1 burglaries where a property is targeted for high value vehicles. Overall the number of reported burglaries was considered low for the area.

·       NYP processes for dealing with drug crime and county lines were regarded as best practice nationally. Protecting children and vulnerable people was a key element of this work as well as working together with other forces (West Yorkshire, Manchester).

·       Tackling hate crime was a key priority, appropriate services and safeguarding were in place.

·       Stop and search was a proactive tool for the police and was especially useful in disrupting drug dealing. Data on stop and search uses and outcomes was within the report. Training was in place to educate officers on appropriate use with an emphasis on targeted intelligence.

 

Councillor Nigel Middlemass referred to the ward based statistics in the report, and queried when changes in ward boundaries would be reflected. It was confirmed that, given forthcoming changes to Local Government in North Yorkshire this work would be undertaken at an appropriate time. DSI Thomas confirmed that NYP could share information with a specific local focus and/or time period on request.

 

The Commission discussed the channels used for reporting crime and levels of communication about outcomes for people who had provided information to the police. It was noted that providing acknowledgements and follow-up information to people who report crimes could help build confidence and encourage more people to share information and have a positive impact on community safety. DSI Thomas confirmed that there would be more options with enhanced online reporting. Significant national and local campaigns would be coming forward in winter 2021. It was anticipated that improved online mechanisms would help with reporting of outcomes. It was noted that elected Members also had an important role within the community and could help with promoting the reporting of incidents.

 

DSI Thomas confirmed that contact information for the Neighbourhood Policing Team was available online and officers could feedback information/updates if this was available. DSI Thomas referenced the stringent requirements of courts in terms of the quality and volume of evidence that was essential to progress enquiries. Double or triple corroboration was necessary for an arrest warrant to be issued. Members considered that it could be useful to raise awareness about this with residents in order to encourage reports to be made and to manage expectations.

 

Councillor Stuart Martin expressed gratitude for the work being done in Ripon, confirming that actions taken by NYP and partners had significantly reduced ASB in the area, he asked that DSI Thomas pass on his thanks to all officers involved in this work. Councillor Martin raised the issue of identity theft and fraud, explaining that in his view there was not a very joined up approach between organisations and that there was a big impact for victims. DSI Thomas stated that this type of crime was a key priority for the force and the strategy was being refreshed. He referred to the difficulties in investigating these types of crime which were often complex, and sometimes involved international enquiries that could be difficult to progress. Education and prevention was therefore the key focus for the police as well as working with financial institutions. The Neighbourhood Policing Team, PCs and PCSOs were all involved in awareness building in communities. DSI Thomas referred to the advice available on the ‘get safe online’ website which was a good resource available to help people identify what is and is not genuine.

 

DSI Thomas informed Members that, based on the most recent national statistics, North Yorkshire continued to be the safest place to live in the UK and this was despite changes to crime reporting standards. The Chair stated that NYP did a fantastic job over a wide geography. On a local level the Chair was Ward Councillor for Fairfax and stated that he had received significant positive feedback from the local community about improvements since the closure order for a house of multiple occupancy on Avenue Grove. The work undertaken to resolve issues here was hugely appreciated by residents.

 

The Chairman thanked DSI Thomas for his informative update on behalf of the Commission and expressed the Commission’s gratitude for the content and quality of the report.

(5.33 pm – 6.25 pm)

Supporting documents: