The Scrutiny Support Officer presented a report to provide the Panel with an outline of the purpose of the meeting. Earlier in the year, the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel had made enquiries with the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership (SMP) regarding the collection and analysis of crime data. The Panel ascertained that certain data available to the SMP was not compatible with other data and IT systems by other organisations that also collected crime data.
The Panel subsequently met with representatives of the SMP and also a representative from the Probation Service. It emerged that whilst information was available to the public from the Police website, there were still problems including or extracting some information from the data which was received and collated. It had also been noted that Safer Stockton Partnership (SSP) had a more refined approach to crime data and representatives from Stockton had been invited to the meeting to provide an opportunity to compare and contrast with process and production of crime data in Middlesbrough.
Two representatives from the SSP were present at the meeting and gave a brief outline of how the SSP operated. The SSP had approximately eight meetings per year at six weekly intervals. A series of reports on crime data were routinely presented at the meetings and examples of three reports were tabled for Members information.
One report was a general report on recorded crime and disorder and followed a Cleveland Police format showing several broad categories of crime. For each category, the report showed the statistics for the current year to date against the second period in the previous year. So for each category the changes year-on-year were shown. There were also some contextual entries showing key issues and trends as well as the numbers of Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) incidents.
Crime recording was fairly tightly controlled by the Home Office and ASB incidents were now only covered by three broad categories which were personal, nuisance and environmental. The SSP had its own figures and the Police provided its own statistics at the beginning of the month on its performance management site. The SSP Analyst then extracted the information and carried out some further analysis. The Recorded Crime and Disorder report was produced monthly in arrears and presented to each meeting of the SSP.
Another report was the Youth Offending Service (YOS) data which provided numbers in terms of YOS performance. It was a fairly brief report and the main items were statistics in relation to first time entrants to the youth system and re-offending. It was highlighted that it took around twelve months to produce any meaningful re-offending data. The report was presented to the SSP on a quarterly basis.
The third report was a standard report from the Drugs Action Team (DAT) which was designed to show targets. This report was also presented on a quarterly basis and relied on information produced by national systems supported primarily from the Department of Health.
In addition to the three reports outlined, the SSP had a Community Safety Plan for the borough and again, quarterly performance reports were produced against the Plan. Some statistics were fairly routine in terms of recorded crime and the last three years priorities had included violent crime and criminal damage. Other data was based around drugs and alcohol and systems had been devised to generate the information that was required.
Safer Stockton Partnerships Data Analyst was based within Stockton Police Station along with the Local Authority Safety Community Team and a couple of police officers from the Intelligence Unit. The Data Analyst was able to access the Police Computer system direct as well as Stockton Councils own information. The provision of a shared building had been funded with contributions from the Police Authority and the Local Authority.
In Middlesbrough, the Data Analyst would need to go to the Police Station to be able to log on to the Cleveland Police Intranet. The Police produced a monthly report on domestic violence, anti-social behaviour, hate crime etc and the SSP Data Analyst was able to look at the figures for all four local authorities and produce comparative
The SSP Data Analyst commented that she was often contacted by Elected Members via email and could provide the answers to most queries within an hour, as she could readily access several data systems.
It was noted that Middlesbroughs Data Analyst was not co-located in the local Police Station unlike at Stockton, Redcar and Cleveland and Hartlepool. All four partnerships had the same level of access in principle to police information, but it was acknowledged that those Analysts based within the Police Stations were able to be more effective. There was also an intangible advantage in terms of having people sitting together which created an ethos of everyone working together for a common aim.
In addition, the Data Analysts role was viewed as one that improved with experience. Stocktons Data Analyst had been in post since 2002 and had worked for Cleveland Police for several years prior to that. Stockton also employed an Assistant Analyst.
In common with most Community Safety Partnerships, a Partnership Strategic Assessment was carried out annually which was an overview of the statistics from the previous twelve months. This sometimes identified a trend which was not so obvious in the shorter six weekly reports. Members of the Partnership might also identify issues at the meetings on which the Data Analyst would have to prepare a more detailed piece of analytical work for the following meeting.
Once every three years, a major public consultation was undertaken to ascertain residents views on what the Partnerships priorities should be for the next three years. This was carried out in September and October and this year approximately 5,500 residents had responded. The priorities would be included in the new Community Safety Plan which would start in April 2014 and run for three years. The SSP representative agreed to provide copies of the consultation document.
It was highlighted that Cleveland Polices move to the Functional Command Structure was challenging for everyone at borough level as the lines of communication seemed to have become longer and the new structures were still bedding in. The previous District-based Command Units had been withdrawn and it was often more difficult to contact people to find the answers and responses that were required. It was noted that undoubtedly there were resource issues for the Local Authority, Police and all the other partners in the SSP.
The Police and Crime Commissioner generally attended the SSP meetings, along with a senior officer to provide operational policing expertise as required. It was highlighted that the role of the Police and Crime Panel (PCP) was distinct from the role of the Partnership as it was entirely about holding the Police and Crime Commissioner to account.
The Chair thanked the representatives from the SSP for attending the meeting and for their contributions.
AGREED as follows:
1. that the information provided was received and noted.
2. the Scrutiny Support Officer would draft a summary report in relation to the scrutiny on crime data for consideration at the next Panel meeting.
3. the next topic for consideration by the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel would be the Exploitation of Children.