The Mayor welcomed Roger Hirst, the Police Fire and Crime Commissioner, and Chief Inspector Richard Melton to the meeting and asked they delivered their presentation which would then be followed by questions by members. Roger Hirst updated members on the following:
· Recorded crime and anti-social behaviour had been significantly impacted by COVID. The effects on policing demand, the types of incidents and crimes reported to Essex Police as a result of COVID had been complex and had not been uniform across all fields.
· During the 12 month reporting period up to November 2020 crime had decreased in Thurrock by 13%.
· Operation policing command in Thurrock in 2019/20 were in excess of 300 hours of patrols, arrested 150 individuals, conducted 150 stop and search and had attended 4000 reported incidents.
· Operation SHIELD, a trial tackling repeat risk/violent domestic abuse offenders.
· Operation ENVISON, being run to understand why victims of domestic abuse who were not supportive of Police action.
· The “Ports as a Community” project to look to increase intelligence sharing between law enforcement agencies to strengthen borders and support victims of organised immigration crime.
· Emergency (999) and non-emergency (101) remained a priority focus with significant improvements being seen year on year.
· Next steps were: tackling gangs and drug-driven violence, domestic abuse and prevention activities.
The full PowerPoint can be found on-line from the following link:
Members raised the following questions:
Councillor Spillman: Referred to domestic abuse and questioned what had been the main challenges faced during the pandemic and what operational changes had been made to tackle them. Roger Hirst stated the Police had been very alert and had tried very hard to make themselves accessible with work being undertaken with charities. That a recent National Initiative called ANI would assist people with reporting by less obvious means. The J9 project had been launched to help other people to understand how to spot signs of domestic abuse and how to report it. That advertising had been undertaken alongside social media. Chief Inspector Richard Melton stated there needed to be a way to predict those at risk or provide other platforms for victims to come forward. Operation SHIELD had been rolled out across the whole county to work around prevention before it became a problem and the provision to provide better platforms would be an ongoing piece of work. Members were assured there was the commitment to deal with not only perpetrators but to give victims every opportunity to come forward and would be mindful and keep a close eye on the situation when lockdown started to finish.
Councillor Redsell: Referred to the Motorcycle problem in Thurrock with some perpetrators drawing knifes on residents and questioned what more could be done to help prevent this. Roger Hirst stated this was a priority and asked Chief Inspector Richard Melton to provide a response from a local level. Chief Inspector Richard Melton agreed this was a blight on Thurrock and was a high priority with some good joint working with the Council being undertaken on Operation CAESAR. That a lot of work was being undertaken but recognised there was still a lot to do and information would be shared through the Community Safety Engagement Officers and pleaded that residents continued to report incidents.
Councillor Muldowney: Referred to the increase of incidents of anti-social behaviour in Chadwell St Mary being reported and asked what additional Police presence or other Police services would residents expect to see over the coming year. Chief Inspector Richard Melton agreed there had been an increase in reports of anti-social behaviour and these had been contributed due to a nature increase in some anti-social behaviours, a lot of COVID reporting would go down as anti-social behaviour and motorbikes. To tackle this the community policing team were fully up to strength and pro-active patrols would be undertaken. It was hoped the figures for anti-social behaviour in Chadwell St Mary would come back under control and would continue be a main focus.
Councillor Ralph: Referred to town centre policing and questioned when the town centre policing would be seen in Corringham. Chief Inspector Richard Melton reassured Councillor Ralph that conversations were taking place looking at the viability of extending the Stanford Le Hope policing teams to Corringham with an update to be provided shortly. That the town centre policing were fully resourced and fully staffed with four additional funded town centre officers covering Purfleet and Tilbury. That going forward through the Community Safety Engagement Officer, data could be identified on how many hours were spent in each town centre, what they were undertaking and what affect that was having. The town centre policing were doing everything they wanted them to do and would be more visible in 2021 and going forward.
Councillor Jefferies: Referred to the two push bikes that had been delivered to the South Ockendon Police Station in 2019 from the Council. These push bikes had required servicing and for the need for the Police Officers to pass their cycling proficiency tests and asked for assurance those Police bikes would be used, evidenced and visible policing would come back to South Ockendon. Chief Inspector Richard Melton acknowledged there had been some challenges and had seen an increase in anti-social behaviour in South Ockendon and policing would continue to be visible in the communities through the town policing team and agreed he would look into the bike matter.
Councillor Byrne: Referred to why the crime report figures were watered down and questioned were these crime figures down because the full story was not being reported. Roger Hirst assured Councillor Byrne the full story was being reported with Essex Police being regularly inspected on the accuracy of crime data recording and was pleased to announce Essex Police received an outstanding rating. Chief Inspector Richard Melton agreed national recording standards would not allow crime figures to be watered down and again reassured Councillor Byrne this was not happening.
Councillor Allen: Referred to the anti-social unlicensed motorcycle use in Tilbury and asked for assurance that patrols would be tighten to tackle this behaviour and what plans would be put in place to tackle these unlicensed motorcycles. Roger Hirst reassurance Councillor Allen that road crime was being taken seriously and would commit resources to it. Chief Inspector Richard Melton again recognised these motorcycles were a real blight on Thurrock, had the focus of Operation CAESAR and work would continue with the Council on joint funded operations. That some good results had been seen with 58 motorcycles seized in the last year, seven people had been arrested and a number of anti-social driving notices had been issued.
Councillor Holloway: Referred to the tragedy of the lorry where the Vietnamese people were found in West Thurrock and questioned what Essex Police were doing in partnership with other agencies to make sure this never happen again and nobody could be trafficked through the ports in Thurrock. Roger Hirst stated work was being undertaken more closely with Border Force and Immigration Services. Chief Inspector Richard Melton recognised that a tragedy this like could not be allowed to happen again, prosecutions had been made with a fantastic result all be it in tragic circumstances. That Ports Watch was where professionals get together to share information and with Ports Watch set up in non-Government organisations and voluntary sector level so discussions on issues within the Thurrock area and to share information and intelligence. There was also the Ports Watch at the industrial and commercial level where port operatives would be able to report issues within the confines of the ports. The Ports Community Project between Essex Police, Immigration Services and Border Force was a multi-agency task force brought together to share all information across all platforms. To also uplift and focus activity on the Police resources to tackle organisation crime groups and going forward into 2021/22 a significant and a focused multi-agency response would be seen to prevent tragedies like this happening again.
The Mayor thanked, on behalf of members, Roger Hirst and Chief Inspector Richard Melton for their time this evening and asked Roger Hirst to sum up. Roger Hirst thanked members for the opportunity to present this evening and would be happy to answer any further questions that could be submitted through democratic services. That investments would continue to be made in policing across the county and in Thurrock. The key topics to be addressed over the next couple of years would be to see more problem solving policing, working on hot-spots, working around known offenders and working around vulnerable people with Thurrock’s community safety partnership.
At 7.58pm, the meeting was paused to allow members to light candles in recognition of the UK Holocaust Memorial Day 2021.
At 8.02pm, the meeting resumed.
At 8.02pm, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst and Chief Inspector Richard Melton left the meeting.