Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: John Meikle Room, The Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton TA1 1HE. View directions
Contact: Patricia Jones
Apologies for Absence
Election of Chair
The Lead Officer sought nominations for Chair. Councillor Asher Craig nominated Somerset Councillor Heather Shearer. This was seconded by Councillor Jonathan Hucker. There were no other nominations and on being put to the vote, unanimously,
That Somerset Councillor Heather Shearer be elected as Chair of the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Panel for the municipal year 2023/24.
Election of Vice-Chair
The Lead Officer sought nominations for Vice-Chair. Independent Member Julie Knight was duly nominated and seconded. There were no other nominations and on being put to the vote, unanimously,
That Julie Knight, Independent Member be elected as Vice-Chair of the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Panel for the municipal year 2023/24.
Public Question Time
Members of the public who reside or work in the Avon and Somerset Force
area may submit a statement or petition or ask a maximum of two questions
at a Panel meeting.
Statements or questions should be e-mailed to Patricia.Jones@somerset.gov.uk, or sent to the Democratic Services Team, County Hall Taunton TA1 4DY (marked for the attention of Patricia Jones). Statements must be received no later than 12.00 noon on Monday 26th June 2023. Questions must be received no later than 3 clear
working days before the meeting – Wednesday 21st June 2023.
Please note that all statements and questions must relate to matters that fall within
the Panel’s functions and responsibilities.
Declarations of Interest
The Statutory Register of Member’s Interests can be inspected by contacting Patricia Jones in the Democratic Services Team on Tel: 07855 284506 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To confirm as a correct record.
The minutes of the meeting held on 29th March 2023 were approved as a correct record of the meeting.
To consider any matters arising or actions emerging from the minutes.
A list of actions following the previous meeting had been circulated. There were no queries or matters arising.
To receive any updates from the Chair.
The Chair thanked the Panel for electing her. She said she was looking forward to serving the Panel for another year.
The Panel is invited to note the membership for 2023/24.
The Lead Officer introduced the report which invited the Panel to note the new membership notified to the Host Authority by the Constituent Authorities for 2023/24.
It was reported that nominations had been sought where required and the appointments put forward by the component authorities rendered the political
allocation of seats on the Panel as follows:
South Gloucestershire – 1 Labour 1 Liberal Democrat
North Somerset – 1 Independent 1 Conservative
Bath and North-East Somerset – 2 Liberal Democrats
Somerset – 3 Liberal Democrats 2 Conservatives
Bristol – 1 Labour 1 Conservative 1 Green
The Lead Officer advised the Panel that the nominations received were entirely in line with the political balance assessment emerging from the recent elections and the Somerset unitary transition.
Members noted Bristol City Council (BCC) was yet to nominate a Member from the Green Group. The Lead Officer would continue to liaise with BCC for a nomination. In the meantime, meetings of the Police and Crime Panel could proceed with the vacancy.
The Panel is invited to discuss and agree a work programme for 2023/24.
The Lead Officer introduced the report and drew attention to the Panel’s core statutory responsibilities and the proposals for additional scrutiny work set out in the report, which complied with Home Office expectations around proactive scrutiny.
Panel Members were invited to:-
· Discuss and agree a Work Programme for 2023/24, including the establishment of a Public Confidence Sub-Committee and a Budget Task Group
· Agree the membership for the Public Confidence-Sub Committee, the Budget Task and Finish Group and the Complaints Sub Committee
· Approve the Panel meeting dates set out in the Work Programme
The Chair reflected on Panel discussions leading up to the meeting in relation to the Police and Crime Plan, the trajectory of performance data, vetting, institutional racism, the morale of the workforce, identifying disproportionality, the recent HMICFRS inspection and the importance of establishing the Commissioner’s strategy to tackle public confidence issues.
Gary Davies, Independent Member volunteered to join the Public Confidence
Sub-Committee. He said it was important for the Panel to understand the strategy for improving public confidence and it was important for the Commissioner to hold the Chief Constable to account. He added that public confidence in the Police service was low nationally, but there would be an inevitable local impact following the Chief Constable’s announcement that the force was institutionally racist.
Julie Knight, Independent Member also volunteered to join the Public Confidence Sub-Committee. She was concerned about the trajectory of the performance data, and she would be interested to scrutinise performance reports coming from the Constabulary. She said the morale of the Constabulary service going forward was an important factor.
Councillor Asher Craig commented that communication and engagement with the community was vitality important in addressing public confidence. The Panel welcomed her suggestion for Maya Mate-Kole to provide external assurance on the work of the Public Confidence Sub-Committee. It was noted that she was currently involved in the Avon and Somerset’s Tackling Disproportionality work alongside Councillor Craig.
Councillors Brian Bolt and Nicola Clark also volunteered to join the group.
The discussion about public confidence continued. Members were interested to know more about the declaration the Chief Constable had made in relation to Institutional Racism. What methodology would be used to assess if the strategy to address the culture challenges was working and at what point would the Constabulary know it was no longer institutionally racist.
The Commissioner was invited to speak. He said the issue of addressing institutional racism would involve a change in culture which would be a complicated and lengthy process and take many years to achieve. In future, indicators such as whether parents had to warn their children about stop and searches by the Constabulary would indicate whether the service had improved.
In response to further questions, the Commissioner offered to give a wider explanation during his Update Report at Item 12.
The Panel agreed that the purpose of the Budget Task and Finish Group would be to scrutinise the quarterly outturn monitoring reports provided by the Commissioner, and to make a formal ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
The Panel must consider and comment on the Commissioner’s Annual Report.
The Commissioner presented his statutory Annual Report detailing the exercise of his functions over the past year and reflecting on the progress of the 2022-23 Police and Crime Plan objectives. It was emphasised that the report was currently in draft form and any comments and recommendations of Panel Members would be taken into account in the final version.
The Commissioner confirmed that the Constabulary had exceeded the Home Office uplift target, finishing the year with 3,393 officers. This is 266 more officers than at the end of the previous year.
The Commissioner acknowledged the enormity of the task both he and the Chief Constable faced in meeting the ongoing challenges relating to public confidence and meeting priorities within a limited budget. He emphasised that he wanted to work with the Panel, welcoming the proposal to establish Task and Finish Groups on these issues.
The Commissioner emphasised that he would hold the Chief Constable to account on all aspects of the improvement programme emerging from the HMICFRS inspection and the resulting updates and progress against actions will be reported to the Panel.
In an effort to improve, and develop leadership and culture change, the Commissioner added that visits had been undertaken to Sandhurst, Westbury and the MOD to learn best practice from a variety of organisations.
He reminded the Panel that the Annual Report was a draft and welcomed feedback from the Panel. The report will be finalised and published, with the final version brought back to the Panel at the September meeting.
During the discussion, the following points were made:
The Panel referenced the positive, albeit small, improvement in performance in relation to Rape and Sexual Violence outcomes as a result of Operation Bluestone. The grants that go to victim support organisations were also welcomed by the Panel, but further information was sought on preventative measures and education that may be taking place to tackle misogyny and violence against women and girls.
The Commissioner agreed that education was vitally important for working towards the prevention of crimes such as violence against women and girls, misuse of drugs and violence caused by drugs. All require a strong community response that this behaviour is not acceptable. This is an important aspect of the work of the Violence Reduction Units across the Force area.
The Commissioner reiterated his desire for research into effective education strategies from age 4 and confirmed that he had requested work to enable messaging to be targeted in an age-appropriate way.
The Commissioner said it was important for women and girls to know what help was available. He gave the example of the initiative run last summer where pharmacies provided a safe space for victims to be able to access support.
The Panel emphasised it was equally important to educate boys and men not to become abusers, as well as informing victims on how they could escape abuse.
The Commissioner was invited to comment on any plans to provide improved training for Police officers on violence against women and ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
To receive an update on the Commissioner’s decisions and activities since the last meeting.
The Commissioner introduced the report, setting out key governance and scrutiny activities and OPCC/national business updates since the last meeting.
The Commissioner discussed the Chief Constable’s recent announcement in relation to the Constabulary and institutional racism. He read out the definition of institutional racism as stated in the Macpherson Report: the collective failure of an organisation to provide a service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racial stereotyping.
He reported that the statement was necessary to rebuild trust and that in order to address this problem, there needed to be a change in culture. He believed this process would take a number of years and emphasised that he was fully supportive of the Chief Constable and her courageous work. He said the process for change had started 18 months ago and all the agencies involved were on a journey.
The Identifying Disproportionality Report had indicated under-representation from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority people. The first step had been to involve the communities. This had already begun to have an impact shown in the recruitment of officers from under-represented groups. However, as the workforce has expanded, overall, this has not translated into greater diversity and the current figure of 3.6% of the workforce should be closer to 9.2% to reflect the current BAME population as shown in the 2021 Census.
He talked about the perception of the Constabulary by minority communities and the statistical evidence and lived experiences that now demanded progress. He said the Constabulary was determined to address the problem and this is core to tackling crime and upholding the law.
The Commissioner continued to give further updates:-
It was noted that further discussions around the improvement programme and the work of Assistant Chief Constable Will White emerging from the HMICFRS inspection, would take place at the annual planning meeting on 18th July 2023.
He confirmed that local Police and Crime Plans (Community Safety Plans) were operational in 3 areas. He further confirmed that the OPCC Community Engagement and Stakeholder Manager was now in post.
Members were encouraged to pass on ideas for local initiatives that could be included in the Community Payback scheme.
The Panel was advised that a user-friendly guide for nominations for Gallantry Awards was under development. These awards can be given to the bravest Police Officers who deserve national recognition and the initiative was intended to help obtain that recognition and boost morale.
The Commissioner reported that he was making good progress with his national fraud portfolio and with work underway to ensure that reporting systems were more accessible. The Constabulary’s handling of cybercrime had been recognised as good practice and forces from across the country had been asking for advice.
The Head of Communications and Engagement advised that the OPCC had won a regional award for its volunteer recruitment campaign.
During the discussion the following points ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
To consider and discuss the latest performance information.
The Panel noted the performance data provided for Quarter ending March 2023 against the Government’s National Police and Crime measures.
The Panel asked if the targeted efforts to disrupt drug supplies/activities commencing in 2020 had achieved the anticipated outcomes. The Commissioner provided assurances that Operation Scorpion was having a positive effect.
To provide the Panel with an overview of all complaints.
The Panel noted a report from the Chief of Staff, providing a rolling summary of complaints made against the Commissioner.
There had been no new complaints recorded against the Commissioner since the last meeting of the Police and Crime Panel.
The complaint review manager had handled 600 reviews up until the end of May 2023. In total 20% of reviews have been upheld, 68% have not been upheld and 12% had been recorded as void.
The OPCC had received and logged 4 new complaints against the Chief Constable since the last meeting of the Police and Crime Panel.
An update on Operation Meadow was provided.
Date of Next Meeting
Thursday 28th September 2023 at 10.30pm (The Deane House).
Thursday, 28th September 2023 at 10.30 am, Council Offices, Deane House, Taunton.