Cllr Rob Bissett
Making reference to information provided in the papers which supported the Commissioner’s recent scrutiny meeting with the Chief Constable, he asked about the reduction in the number of drug drive arrests. He also asked if the decrease was due to the cost of drug driving tests. The Commissioner commented that the reduction was of concern to him but that it highlighted the importance of scrutiny sessions in drawing attention to such important issues. However, he did note that some statistics could be misleading and that he had asked for further work to be undertaken to ensure that meaningful information was available. The Commissioner agreed to provide further information on the cost of testing.
Mrs Sally Hardwick
Sought clarification as to the definition of “solved” in crime statistics. She was particularly concerned in the context of cases of rape and sexual violence. The Commissioner noted that there were 24 categories that could be applied, these were set by the Home Office. The Commissioner offered to discuss this in more detail at the next informal meeting with the Panel.
Cllr Laura Jeuda
Noting the current national media coverage on police behaviour and attitudes, especially as they related to women, asked what the situation was within the Cheshire Constabulary. The Commissioner indicated that he could not provide detailed information at the meeting, but that he would come back to the Panel with further information. However, he did indicate that neither he nor the Chief constable would tolerate the types of behaviour that had been widely reported in the media as occurring in other parts of the country. The Chairman noted the very helpful and informative presentation that had been made on this issue at the Panel’s previous informal meeting with the Commissioner.
Cllr Jeuda congratulated the Commissioner on the work of the Cheshire Stalking Unit.
Cllr Jane Whalen
Noted that during the previous year Cheshire Police had undertaken over 5,000 “Stop and Searches”, but that these had only resulted in 16 arrests. She asked what could be learnt from the statistic. The Commissioner indicated that he had taken this issue up with the Chief Constable and would report back to the Panel when he had additional information.
Cllr Norman Plumpton Walsh
Noting that the issue had been raised at the Panel’s previous meeting, queried the pay rise made to the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner. The Commissioner indicated that he had written to the Panel about this, but in summary he had concluded that the original salary level had been wrong. The salary level had not been in line with the tasks been undertaken by his Deputy, or indeed with the salary of deputies elsewhere in the country. The Chair noted that it was likely that the Panel, at the Confirmation Hearing in June, would have supported a higher salary, but the very significant increase in salary once appointed, had raised the Panel’s concerns. The Commissioner indicated that he felt that the salary was now correct.
Cllr Martha Lloyd Jones
Noted that when the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner had been appointed the Panel had recommended that he receive training. She asked if this was taking place. The Commissioner indicated that training was being delivered.
Asked for details of the Commissioner’s office administration costs in comparison with those of his predecessor. The Commissioner indicated that this information would be provided to the Panel.
Cllr Martyn Delaney
Noting previous discussions earlier in the meeting on problems with the 101 call system, enquired what information was available on the number of abandoned calls. The Commissioner indicated that this information was available within the data provided for his scrutiny meetings with the Chief Constable, and that he would make it available to the Panel.
Miss Yasmin Somani
Recognising that minority groups were likely to have lower levels of confidence in the Police, she asked what steps the Commissioner was taking to build bridges with such groups and how this was being evidenced. The Commissioner indicated that there was an Advisory Group and that he was about to create an Ethics Committee. He wished to work with individuals on the Advisory Group to better understand the needs of minority groups. He noted that he wanted to see more representatives of minority groups working for the Constabulary as either Police Officers or Police staff. He invited Miss Somani to work alongside him in the area of engaging with minority groups.
Cllr Kenneth Critchley
Having reviewed the statistics made available for the Commissioner’s Scrutiny Meeting, queried why when the overall level of vehicle offences had remained static, the solved rate had dropped. The Commissioner committed to provide information on this to the Panel.
Sought further information on projects being developed to combat anti-social behaviour. The Commissioner indicated that anti-social behaviour did have a very significant impact on a great many people, he was working with the Chief Constable to ensure that there was an adequate police presence on the streets at the right time to have an impact on such behaviours.
Cllr Lynn Riley
Sought reassurance that information reported through the 101 system and through other routes such as local authorities on issues such as minor road traffic accidents was correctly recorded, so that it was available to inform the wider picture about what was happening in a community. The Commissioner recognised that there were limitations as to what could be recorded but agreed that where practical such information should be collected as it did help provide a more comprehensive picture. The Chair noted the good work done by the former Cheshire Safer Roads partnership in areas such as this.
Asked whether custody suites were still being used to triage people to receive support in areas such as gambling addiction and domestic violence. The Commissioner indicated that Cheshire had some of the best custody suites in the country and that conditional cautioning did take place, although not in relation to domestic violence. He was aware of work in Hampshire relating to domestic violence, this was being reviewed as it could be of benefit to Cheshire.
Highlighted current levels of Police Officer absenteeism due to anxiety, stress and depression, noting the innovative work being undertaken by the Fire and Rescue Service in this area. The Commissioner indicated that he had raised the issue of such sickness with the Chief Constable and that his staff would liaise with the Fire and Rescue Service to see if any lessons could be leant.