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).
The 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 January meeting was broadcast live on Facebook, you can watch it here.
PCC Mark Shelford started by explaining that visible policing is a priority as set out in his Police and Crime Plan. He noted that over the last four years there has been a significant growth in the number of Police Officers both nationally and in Avon and Somerset but wanted to insure they were in visible roles. He asked CC Sarah Crew:
“How are you ensuring that the additional officers are out policing in the community and not unduly tied to the desk at a station?”
CC Crew pointed out how important it is that crime and harm is prevented so that more visible resources can be out on patrol in communities. She stated that global radios are a system used to tell them where officers are, and they look at time spent out of the station. Approximately 64% of an officer’s time is spent out of the station.
Avon and Somerset Police also ask residents through the local public confidence survey when they last saw an PCSO or Police Officer. In the last 12 months 38% of the residents seen a PCSO or Police Officer in the last 7 days. CC Crew considered this positive as pre-covid they were at 23% on this measure.
Youth Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB)
PCC Shelford revealed he had been contacted from people expressing their concern specifically about youth crime and ASB. He also said:
“Dealing with people when they are young provides a much greater opportunity to prevent future offending… Is the feedback I’m getting supported by the data?
“Is there an increase in offences committed by young people?”
Chief Constable stated that between 2019 and 2023 they have seen a moderate increase in the number of crimes where the offender is aged under 18, about 2600 more crimes.
Looking at the whole of crime in 2019 under 18s were accounting for 14% of crimes, whereas now they are accounting for about 16.5%. Youth crime is across the board and has no crime type.
PCC said: “Thank you for confirming that, as its important to understand the data.
“How does your response to young people engaged in crime and ASB embed the child first vision set out by the National Youth Board?”
CC Crew shared that child first vision is that children should be seen as children, protected from harm, treated fairly, and provided support to realise their full potential so they can make constructive contribution to society, prevent offending, and create safer communities for everyone.
With crime the child first vision uses a child gravity matric, a national tool, which gives officers decision making skills in how they deal with instances of crime which are embedded as child centric.
The approach with ASB is similar and Avon and Somerset Police have seen a 4% reduction in ASB over the last 12 months, but it is difficult to pick out how much of that was youth crime. CC Crew assured PCC Shelford that they have a dedicated ASB team who are used to dealing with young people engaged in ASB as well as adults.
PCC then brought up a PAB meeting from two months ago regarding shoplifting, and he wanted to understand what practical changes have been made to improve the response to shoplifting.
Deputy CC John Riley answered this question stating that the QR codes, that take shop workers directly to the reporting crime page, have been rolled out across Avon and Somerset and they are working on a way so that CCTV can be uploaded to these.
They are also in the final stages of drafting a shop lifting pack which will include business crime victim impact statements, so that courts can understand the impact of the crime on businesses.
Deputy CC also stated the importance of communication between businesses and the police being as open as possible.
PCC followed up on this asking if what they have done has made any difference to the number of people they are charging for shoplifting?
It was revealed that the charge rates have stayed consistent over the past 12 months, but they are slightly down from the previous 12 months. The rate is at 16%, which is higher than the detection rate for other crime types.
Avon and Somerset PEEL report
Alice Ripley, Chief of Staff (CoS) for the PCC, moved on to the final topic, Avon and Somerset’s PEEL report regarding an area for improvement around the theme of managing offenders and suspects.
CoS stated that at the time of inspection there were 217 overdue visits and 151 overdue assessments, she asked: “What are those figures looking like now?”
Deputy CC stated that nationally there has been an increase on registered sex offenders.
The visit figures have increased to 273 where 15% are high risk, 67% medium risk and 18% are low risk.
The assessment figures have decreased to 148, so broadly a similar picture.
You can find out a lot more on this topic, by watching this month’s PAB on the OPCCs Facebook.
“Thank you Chief and Constable, Deputy Chief Constable, and my Chief of Staff Alice for your time today.
“The next meeting will be the 13th of February, at 11:00am.
“Until next time stay safe.”
PCC Mark Shelford