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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Waltham Forest Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Anthony Jackson, Democratic Services Officer  Email: anthony.jackson@walthamforest.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all attendees to the meeting and then asked for introductions.

2.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Wendy Baah and James Bartrum. 

3.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING HELD ON 10 JULY 2017

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting, held on 10 July 2017, were approved as a correct record.

 

The Chair varied the order of business to take agenda item 5 (Police Presentation and Data) before agenda item 4 (YIAG Report).

4.

POLICE PRESENTATION AND DATA

Minutes:

This item was taken as the first substantive item of business.

 

Phil Herlihy, Chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Board, provided a presentation on the Stop and Search Tableau Dashboard.  He explained that the statistics were published by MOPAC and were publically available.  Mr Herlihy confirmed that the data within the dashboard was current up until August 2017 and the presented data was created on 8 October 2017. 

 

Mr Herlihy pointed out that statistics from the dashboard indicated that mainly black males were stopped and searched and suggested that there could be many reasons for this.  He added that it was important to note that stop and search was an investigation and not an accusation.  

 

 

5.

YIAG REPORT

Minutes:

Representatives from the YIAG explained that they were part of a partnership between young people aged 15-25, the Council, the Metropolitan Police and the borough’s Safer Neighbourhood Board funded by MOPAC and the Council.  The YIAG consisted of young people interested in crime and community safety issues and many came from backgrounds as offenders, victims of crime or lived in areas where youth violence was a part of their lives. 

 

A YIAG representative explained that their members delivered peer-training to young people in the Youth Offending Team, Pupil Referral Units and schools and colleges on topics that affected young people such as bullying, gangs, substance misuse and stop & search.  The YIAG also advised the Police and Council as young consultants, attended Police response patrols and inputted into strategic meetings including the Safer Neighbourhood Board, Community Scrutiny and other meetings.  They have also inputted into the borough’s Gang Prevention Programme and a YIAG member is the Vice-Chair on the Stop and Search Monitoring Board. 

 

A representative from the YIAG provided an update on the work they had undertaken, which included:

·         Stop & Search project - a project tasked by Stop and Search Group members where YIAG members surveyed their peers on their experiences of Stop and Search within the borough and suggested recommendations.

·         Peer training work – a workshop on Stop and Search delivered to young people at the Youth Offending Service as part of a five week programme.  Feedback suggested that participants felt better informed.

·         Other work since last Stop and Search Group meeting – YIAG members worked with Scotland Yard officers, including the MPS Diversity Lead, the Trident engagement officer and had also attended pan-London IAG events. 

 

The YIAG also reported that one of their members with an ongoing stop and search complaint had his appeal upheld by the IPCC and attended a misconduct hearing for the officers involved in July 2017 at Chingford Police Station. 

 

A member of the public stated that it was pleasing to see young people helping to shape stop and search and wider Council policy.  The member of the public then asked to what extent members of the YIAG felt significantly empowered to help in bringing about change. 

 

A representative from the YIAG explained that the YIAG were able to engage with young people, explain their rights and to encourage victims of stop and search to feel confident enough to challenge the officer (should challenge be required) in a calm and articulate manner. 

 

The member of the public thanked the YIAG representative for their answer and said that if there were a significant amount of people being stop and searched and not being arrested, there was something wrong with the system/process that suggested prejudice or bias.  The Chair made it clear that the relevant statistics were within the dashboard and that it was the Group’s responsibility to analyse those statistics and hold the Police and their processes/systems to account.   

 

Dr Nelson Ochei said that there were certain known ‘hot spots’ where criminal activity was known  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

POLICE COMPLAINTS PROCESS EXPLAINED

Minutes:

Superintendent Paul Clements explained that one of the priorities for the Metropolitan Police was violence, including domestic violence and violence in streets and confirmed that was where resources were being directed.  He said that he would use every tactic at his disposal to keep the streets of Waltham Forest safe, including stop and search.   

 

Detective Constable Scott Roberts then referred to Stop and Search statistics for the borough of Waltham Forest, for the period from July to September 2017.  In doing so, he explained the definition of a ‘stop’ as defined by the Home Office that was - a record of the encounter must be completed at the time and a copy should be given to the person who was questioned, unless there were exceptional circumstances.  

 

DC Roberts then provided a breakdown of Stop and Search incidents that had taken place from 1 July to 30 September 2017, which were as follows:

 

·         Total stops: 1089

·         Positive outcomes (which included community resolution, PND, postal charge, caution, cannabis/khat warning or arrest): 308

·         Offensive weapon/points and blade stops: 135

·         Drug stops: 753

·         Firearm stops: 22

·         Others: 179

 

DC Roberts circulated photographs to the Group of some items that were found during stop and searches. 

 

Aimee Farquhar pointed out that from the Stop and Search figures that DC Roberts had provided, there were few that yielded “positive outcomes”.  She asked what the impact was on people who had been stopped and searched where no illegal items had been found.  She suggested that the issue might erode trust within the community.   DC Roberts confirmed that the way in which the stop and search was conducted was of paramount importance and said that police officers should take the time to explain the grounds of the stop and search.  He stated that there was a need for trust to be built between young people and the Police.

 

The Chair stated that many were of the view that if you lived south of the borough, then the likelihood of being stopped and searched increased.  She asked for a breakdown of stop and searches in the borough by geographical area.  DC Roberts explained that they did not have the resources to provide that information.  The Chair said that in the past Group members had been provided that information and, whilst she sympathised with their resource issue, stated that the public needed and had a right to know.  Dr Ochei agreed that a full picture was required in order to address the aforementioned issues.  He suggested that representatives from the Police that attend future Stop and Search Group meetings should provide details of searches conducted in areas that were considered ‘hot spots’ in the borough.  DC Scott Roberts assured the meeting that he would talk to his colleagues about the request and would see what could be done.  He then referred to a presentation on ‘Joint Knife Strategy’ which he said prompted where the Police conducted the majority of their Stop and Searches within the borough and the principal  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that the next Stop and Search Group meeting would be held on 15 January 2018.  She added that the dates of the remaining meetings for the municipal year would be announced at that meeting.

8.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Minutes:

Spit Hoods

 

Sergeant Clark displayed a ‘spit hood’ which was a newly designed hood which would be put over the head of a perpetrator, at times of arrest, to prevent them biting and spitting at officers.  He confirmed that a large number of officers had been spat at or bitten in the course of their duties and often required medical attention and/or courses of invasive medication which could have nasty side effects. 

 

A member of the public asked whether a perpetrator could refuse to wear the hood.  Sergeant Clark confirmed that that was not an option.  He said that at present, the hood was only in operation in custody suites and that it was removed as soon as it could be. 

 

The Chair stated that the media were indicating that the spit hoods were being used in the streets of London.  Given Sergeant Clark’s assertion that the hood was only used in custody suites, she asked if the Police’s stance on the issue had changed.  Sergeant Clark said that the hood was being trialled on the streets in one or two London boroughs and confirmed that the hood was only used in custody suites in the borough of Waltham Forest.  Ms Farquhar asked that the Group be updated on the progress of the pilot.

 

A member of the public expressed concerns about the spit hood and pointed out that many people were claustrophobic or had mental illnesses.  She added that there were also likely to be health and safety concerns attached to the hood’s usage.  Sergeant Clark stated officers were of greater risk if the hood was not used.  The Chair also expressed concerns in relation to the hood for the same reasons and asked if there was anything else that could be done to protect officers other than the spit hood.  Sergeant Clark explained that as the use of spit hoods were part of a trial and confirmed such issues would be examined.