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Performance and Accountability Board – November review: Drugs, Shoplifting and Recording of Crime

Every month Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Shelford holds Chief Constable (CC) Sarah Crew to account in a publicly broadcast live forum called the Performance and Accountability Board.

PAB gives the PCC a chance to conduct one of his most important legal duties which is to hold the Chief Constable to account in delivering policing that is efficient, effective, and legitimate. 

The November meeting was broadcast live on Facebook, you can  watch it here

Questions were raised about drugs, shoplifting and recording of crime of vulnerable people and anti-social behaviour (ASB). 

At the beginning of the meeting, the PCC revealed the first item in the agenda is the quarterly performance report, the topic that stood out the most was data about drugs. Previously spoke about before, the PCC wanted to go back to this given the data shows two measures going in the wrong direction: recorded crime and disruptions. PCC said, “This suggests that the actions you are taking to improve are either not working or not working consistently, what are you going to do differently to get on top of this problem?”  

CC said: “As Chief Constable I am absolutely committed to proactive policing, because I believe it’s through that, through intelligence lead, perpetrator focused policing aligned with evidence-based problem solving that we get to prevent reactive demand in crime, and it gives us more space for proactive policing.” 

Sarah Crew assured PCC, that their proactive activity aligns with the current ten-year strategy, launched in 2021, that Her Majesty’s Government have for tackling drugs and saving lives. CC clarified that with the Operation Scorpion last month that Avon and Somerset made the biggest contribution to the level of disruptions achieved including 40,000 seized of illicit monies, 21 arrests, 80 kgs of class A drug seizures and 150 kgs of cannabis.  

Next, PCC Mark Shelford pointed that there’s a lot of national attention on the increase in shoplifting now. He also mentioned that the public and some people in the retail trade feel that the police are not taking shoplifting seriously. PCC then asked: “Please can you tell me how you are tackling this issue in Avon and Somerset?” 

CC Crew stated that the policing minister has been very active in this area and has commissioned the creation of a retail crime action plan which sets out some clear areas of focus and expectations around how individual police forces prioritise and deal with shoplifting.  

Within Avon and Somerset, they have created a lead officer for business crime within each one of the neighbourhood policing teams, to improve communication between local business communities and the police. As well as more proactive operations, such as working more with businesses to reduce offending through increased awareness and target hardening; but critically also identifying and apprehending the repeat offenders who are usually responsible for the bulk of the offending.  

CC Crew said they are also currently trialling a QR code reporting system, which enables instant and easier access for staff in retail premises to access reporting systems more efficiently. 

PCC Shelford, passed onto to Alice Ripley, Chief of Staff (CoS) for the OPCC, who asked about the Avon and Somerset PEEL report, where there are several areas for improvement which are related to crime data integrity. CoS asked: “Could you please briefly explain what that means and why it’s important?” 

Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) John Riley explained that crime data integrity refers to the accuracy, reliability and completeness of data related to criminal activities and incidents, and it encompasses various aspects of data collection, recording, reporting and management within the criminal justice system. 

John Riley revealed that they have directed one of the Assistant CCs to lead on the improvement activity in this area, activities will include investment in the deployment, development, and training of staff. They have also created a team of highly skilled staff in this area, so it’s important to know the police have experts looking at this daily. They are also using robotic technology to search their records and identify areas where important data may have been missed, so the police can ensure that victims get the help they deserve and need. 

“Thank you, Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable, and my Chief of Staff. 

“Our next meeting will be on 13th December at 10:30am.  

“I wish you all to stay safe till next time.” 

PCC Mark Shelford