Surrey PCC visits Ash Parish:
The Surrey PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner), Lisa Townsend, made a presentation at the Ash Parish Council meeting held on Wednesday 14 July 2021. She described the varied role of the PCC to tackle domestic abuse, violence against young girls, anti-social behaviour, low level crime, and ensuring the police force has the equipment they need.
Lisa Townsend introduced the new Deputy PCC Elle Vese-Thompsom, who is also the youngest in the country. The Deputy PCC explained that she will be focusing on Youth, Children and youn people which ranges from anti-social teenage driving to child exploitation. She recognised that there is anti-social behaviour in this area and aims to generate more positive and meaningful engagements with youn people. She also highlighted that young people are just as likely and if not more so, to be victims of crime and wishes to break that cycle.
Inspector Sam Turner, joined both the Surrey PCC and Deputy PCC to answer questions and concerns raised by residents.
Video provided by the Surrey PCC Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/SurreyPCC
The chairman of Ash Parish Council, Cllr Nigel Manning, then opened the meeting for a public adjournment to enable members of the public to ask questions relating to police and crime, which have been summarised below.
“If you place a Disbursement Order in one place, will this not just move the problem to another area”
Inspector Sam Turner explained that this is a valid point and that displacement is considered when placing a dispersal order. Sufficient resources are assigned in order to manage this displacement. The Police reserves the right to alter the dispersal order to cover additional areas if this is required, and the police must manage the enforcement of the order without detriment to other areas. He also confirmed that as the dispersal order boarded Ash Ranges, and he works closely with the military police, who have also assigned additional resources to manage this displacement also.
“There has been reports of unwelcome behavioural activity on public footpaths from manor road”
Inspector Turner re underlined the importance of reporting all incidents to the police, he recognised that taking the time to report online or to wait on 101 can be frustrating. However, these reports do build a bigger picture and although the Police may not attend at the time, this may be due to perceived higher priorities else where. These reports allow him to review the dispersal order and assists him with the difficult decisions on how to deploy his limited resources.
Former Cllr Pat Scott, advised that Community street team aim to resume operations following the training and hope to recruit more volunteers. The objective of the street team is to engage young people on the street to build a relationship.
Lisa Townsend said that she would be interested to learn more about this street team.
“Having lived in the village for most of my life, I have seen our village grow, but we now seem to see less officers on the beat”
Lisa Townsend said that there are approximately 101 extra officers, which have been recruited recently and there are more to come. She understood that we would all like to see more police on the beat, however this is not going to happen. The explanation for this is because crime has changed and policing has to change to reflect that, citing economic & cyber crime that requires cyber policing. Police offices seen in cars are patrolling, and these patrols relate the amount of crime that an area is experiencing.
“The Police used to attend Ash Parish Council meetings”
Inspector Turner said it’s a very difficult balancing act for us, and as the borough inspector he has to allocate resource to ensure the public feel safe whilst effectively tacking the serious threats. These are at different ends of the scale and this is the problem as resources do not currently allow resourcing to both. He added that since he has placed the dispersal order, he has been resourced with over 300 additional hours, including special constables with full policing powers. This will not go on forever, but he had also identified a requirement for an additional Police and Crime Supporting Officer (PCSO), which is now in place.
Cllr Carla Morson asked “how can we explain to our residents that community policing has changed and what would your definition of community Policing be” & “What bout the people who are not online”
Lisa Townsend said, that our communities do not look the same as they did in the past, and that what worked then may not fit now. Allot more of our community engagements now happen on social media. She is aware that not everyone cant attend council meetings in person such as this, and she wished she could spend more time at these such as meeting. Each community looks different, and the police must adapt to that.
Lisa acknowledged the point about those whom are not online point and is conscious about this. She reflected on the challenges involved with reaching some members of the community and always considers if we as a community are trying hard enough. She asks that the community and its councillors help to identify who these vulnerable members of the community are and to tell her how she can help to reach them. Furthermore, she said she hasn’t found the answer yet, but it’s something she wants to work very hard on.
Cllr John Tonks asked “After the dispersal order, where do we go next, how do we avoid past problems returning and how do we learn the lessons of other communities”
Lisa explained that these issues stem from many things, and it’s not just about policing, it’s also working with our partner agencies as well, ranging from County Council to our Health Care agencies.
Elle Vese-Thompsom, explained that she will be focusing on schools with youth engagement officers and aims to get into as many schools as possible. She aims to see what is being delivered and learning from it.
For solutions post dispersal, solutions should be community lead. What works in Ash will not necessarily work else where and vice versa. She explained that she is conscious of steering away from the assumption that a youth centre or similar facility is a single solution. The most problematic people are those who are least likely to engage with such projects. She aims to engage with the community and its young people to see what they think the solutions might be, and to find out what those people would rather be doing than be on the street.
Cllr Jo Randall, “Since the dispersal order I have been told that the attendance of the youth group has dropped and that many think that the dispersal order is a curfew”
Inspector Turner said that the Police has engaged with local schools to explain what the dispersal is and why it has been put in place. It is not there to target lawful and reasonable behaviour, it’s there to target the people that need to be targeted and not to prevent youths from leaving their houses. The order gives officers a tool to deal with those people being anti-social. He was sorry to hear that this is the result and will work with the youth engagement officers to reinforce this message.
Cllr Nigel Kearse, asked, “From my time as an Appropriate Adult, I found the same faces kept returning time and time again. As a councillor, I am asked why there seems to be no consequences of their actions. How can we stop the cycle?“.
Lisa believes that the problem starts many years before they come to the Police attention, but It’s never too late. As a community, we have all missed many opportunities to prevent these young offenders going down this path. Looking at the backgrounds of these offenders, statistical analyses has shown that the children which are more likely to come into contact with the police can be identified early. As a PCC, one of the things she can do is make sure that the County Council & Education team catch this early on.
Inspector Turner said that there is a time for invention as it does impact later on in life. With regard to the conscience’s for the crime, he reverse his own opinion on this is a matter, but highlight that this is for the magistrates, not the Police. He wished to confirm that he and all his officers are committed to assist the right people and to get justice for the community.
Cllr Nigel Manning, reminded all that the police needs the communities’ help by reporting all incidents and to note the Dispersal Order ICAD P21094845 NICHE 45210038753. If you see anyone committing anti-social behaviour in Ash, please report it to the Police as soon as you can. You can do this by calling 101 or via the website https://www.surrey.police.uk/…/report-antisocial…/.