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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Waltham Forest Town Hall

Contact: John Williams, Democratic Services Officer  020 8496 4344 Email: |john.williams@walthamforest.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

9.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Jacob Edwards and S K A Highfield JP; and from Philp Dundon (co-opted member).

 

Members were concerned to learn that Councillor Highfield could not attend due to a broken arm, and asked that their best wishes be conveyed to her.

 

It was noted that Councillor Mohammed Asghar was present as substitute member for Councillor Edwards.

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10.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members are required to declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests they or their spouse/partner may have in any matter which is to be considered at this meeting. Interests are defined on the inside cover of this agenda.

Minutes:

None.

 

11.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 9 September 2017 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

Sanctions Detection Presentation – It was noted that Members had requested further information on the following matters and looked forward to receiving this:

 

  • An explanation of the reasons for a significant drop in Waltham Forest detection rates over the 2016-17 period.

 

  • Why detection rates in Waltham Forest for 2016-17 had never risen above 19 per cent and whether data was available for the 81 per cent of cases which did not result in a sanctioned decision.

 

  • Crimes and sanction detection rates in Waltham Forest broken down on a ward basis and whether offence types could be similarly recorded.

 

  • Rent payments for the use of the Police Cadets building in Chingford

 

12.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Members of the public are welcome to participate in scrutiny meetings.  You may speak for three minutes on a topic related to the Committee’s work, and fifteen minutes in total is allowed for public speaking, at the discretion of the Chair.  If you would like to speak, please contact Democratic  ...  view the full agenda text for item 12.

Minutes:

None.

 

13.

PRESENTATION BY THE METROPOLITAN POLICE BOROUGH COMMANDER: CRIME AND COMMUNITY SAFETY CHALLENGES FACING WALTHAM FOREST

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Richard Tucker, Borough Commander Waltham Forest, Metropolitan police to the meeting, and invited him to reflect on policing in the borough.

 

Mr Tucker said there were two main themes:

 

  • The increasing amount of police time looking after vulnerable people

 

  • The proposals to merge the Met’s operations with those in Newham.

 

Crime trends - Mr Tucker said that trends in crime were based on an historic low, after five years of excellent performance across the “MOPAC Seven” (Violence with injury, Robbery, Burglary, Theft from person offences, Theft/taking of motor vehicle Offences, Theft from motor vehicle offences, Criminal damage.

 

The new mayoral administration no longer uses these measures, which has led to an emphasis on a rise in property crime.  There had been an increase in residential burglaries of 30 per cent across much of the borough in the previous two months and consequent difficulties in identifying suspects.  When a burglary is reported on the phone, the matter is therefore assessed as to whether to follow up.  This is an illustration of the police’s ability to confront criminality direct. There are no longer specialised police squads.  It was Mr Tucker’s view that burglary is largely a matter of offender management in liaison with probation colleagues.

 

Of course it was of regret that large numbers of officers are not available to attend every burglary, when of course it is the unacceptable violation of someone’s home.

 

There has also been a 32 per cent increase in theft from motor vehicles, and the often transient nature of offenders who are prolific thieves makes detection more difficult.

 

The shift to safeguarding - By contrast, the number of people reported missing was over 3,400 per annum, but is now down to 2,400.  A large number of these are repeat cases accounted for by a core of a hundred or so very vulnerable people making a massive demand on police time.  A well-publicised event earlier in the year had led to an effective block on detective time at weekends.

 

Waltham Forest is reckoned to have around 11,500 people deemed vulnerable.  The situation of many of these people is now managed seven days a week through MASH (the multi-agency safeguarding hub), which identifies those in serious social need of intervention.  Perhaps the direst need is that of girls being exploited by older men, especially where gangs are involved.

 

Furthermore, there are 404 registered sex offenders in Waltham Forest, all of whom must be risk assessed.

 

Mr Tucker concluded that there has necessarily been a modal shift under his leadership away from the image of policing as ‘cops and robbers’ and motor vehicle crime to a much subtler safeguarding role.

 

Funding – This has been cut by £400 million, meaning a reduction in the number of officers from 42,000 to 30,000 in six months, reducing to 27,000 over the next two years.  There was a time when this was cushioned by selling off parts the estate, including lucrative sites at Scotland Yard and Hampstead, but the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

PRESENTATION: FIRST YEAR OF NIGHT TUBE ON THE CENTRAL AND VICTORIA LINES pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Len Lau, Duty Stations Officer of Transport for London (TfL) to the meeting.

 

Introduction - Mr Lau reminded the Committee that the Night Tube had begun on the Central and Victoria lines, and therefore all four of Waltham Forest’s stations had been served from the outset.  The changeover from day to night Tube is at 1 a.m. and back at 5 a.m.

 

A great deal of background work had gone into the preparations, and during that time the trade unions were resistant to keeping stations open with reduced staff numbers.  The ticketing system also had to be reviewed to make the night part of the previous day.  It was also intended that cleaning of trains should take place while they were in service.

 

Expectations and reality - In many ways the Night Tube has confounded expectations.  The early trials and simulations had featured many ‘pretend’ drunks and instances of anti-social behaviour to acclimatise train and station staff.  The reality has produced very little of this.  Behaviour is not very different from the daytime norm, although with a different demographic, and indeed on what used to be the ‘last tube’ it has improved greatly, as crowds disperse gradually throughout the night.

 

Another surprise has been more people entering the system at stations in the borough than leaving it.  This indicates that the Night Tube is used more by key workers than by late-night revellers.  The flow of passengers is steady and not unmanageable with trains every 12 minutes.

 

Anti-social behaviour – The Chair asked if any problems had occurred.  Mr Lau said no, with the exception of urinating on platforms, largely address by having plenty of cleaners.  At the outset there was a heavy presence of police, station and cleaning staff, but these have been cut back.  He stressed this was nothing to do with cash cuts: they were simply not needed.

 

Expansion – Councillor Mahmood asked about expansion plans.  Mr Lau said the Overground would soon have a night service from Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate, extending to Highbury and Islington and eventually expanding to serve Waltham Forest directly.  A few night buses have seen their service reduced to every half hour to avoid duplication, althgoh there are new night bus services to feed the Night Tube.

 

Security presence – Councillor Berg sought assurance that TfL and British Transport Police staff would be around if needed.  Mr Lau emphasised that apart from some drunken behaviour and urinating, there had been very little crime and no violence or harassment. Overall anti-social behaviour has reduced as a result of staggered drinking and departure times.  There is also the fairly predictable issue of some people falling asleep and missing their station.

 

Councillor Berg asked if there had been any impact on behaviour on night   Mr Lau said that there had always been more reports from buses than trains, and there has been no change.

 

The Chair thanked Mr Lau for an interesting briefing on a service which has been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

COMMUNITY WALTHAM FOREST STRATEGY AND UPDATE pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report by Leesa Herbert, Director, CWF (Community Waltham Forest).

 

Gordon McCullough introduced the report and outlined CWF’s strategic priorities:

 

1: To enhance the capacity and capabilities of organisations and individuals, to deliver the best outcomes for their community

 

2: To enhance community involvement, participation and volunteering

3 : To support greater co-operation, sharing and partnershipsSupport to build collaboration, partnerships and consortia

4 : To increase the capacity and capabilities of CWF

These underpin the aim of building a firmer foundation for voluntary and community organisations, especially where levels of knowledge and understanding are low.  Where there has been dependency on funding, including from the local authority, it has been necessary to address this, by increasing participation and involvement; better retention of volunteers; and outreach – making a difference in communication and where best to place people according to their skills. 

The next step will be a voluntary sector strategy.

The Chair asked how many organisations have been given training and how successful has it been?

Mr McCullough explained that it has been split into different topics: fundraising; adaptation and monitoring of funding applications; with the premise of a strong reluctance to create dependency on CWF.  \The essence is transforming the training in to action. £½ million may be ambitious, but so far there has been a success rate of 50 per cent.

Councillor Asghar observed that it would be useful to have a list of the organisations concerned, as so far it is difficult to ascertain the progress and feedback.  The Chair added that it would also be interesting to see this broken down by ward, and the interaction with ward forums.

In response to a question from Councillor James, Mr McCullough said he drew upon his experience as Chief Executive if Community Southwark, in which he spent a lot of time capturing input, but in the nature of the voluntary sector, it was difficult to baseline.  It depended on how much funding organisations had been able to attract through new interventions.  Sometimes organisations are excited by the recruitment of new volunteers, whereas experience shows that the essence is the quality and input of those volunteers and the satisfaction they gain from it.

With regard to safeguarding, this is not the direct responsibility of CWF, but they can provide advice on processes and procedures including DBS checks, and signpost relevant support.

Community space - Councillor James said a common factor across London was the availability and funding of suitable space for voluntary organisations.  Mr McCullough agreed, and said that the social value of a building in community use was a key consideration.  Daniel Phelps enlarged on the concept of “One Estate” which informs the Council’s emerging asset management strategy and looks at the amount and suitability of publicly owned space in the round – for example in the proposals for the Town Hall Campus as a community hub.  There are currently 900 publicly owned buildings in Waltham Forest.

Councillor James said it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

COMMUNITY SAFETY PERFORMANCE REPORT 2017/18 QUARTER 2 pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to a report of the Head of Business Intelligence.

 

Alastair Macorkindale presented the report on behalf of Ed Maguire and drew Members’ attention to the information and statistics in the slides accompany the agenda papers.  He commented that Waltham Forest’s crime rate is 11.5 per cent lower than the London average, and that the borough ranks 15th, which is an improvement of five places over five years.  Nevertheless, crime has gone up in London and in Waltham Forest, but the change across the capital is very variable.

 

Perception and fear of crime - Where the borough does less well is in what residents think and their perception.  However, Mr Macorkindale urged caution when seeking to interpret the Public Attitude Survey: although it reached 200 people, at 150 per quarter it was not representative.  There are also seasonal changes: for example the harassment of women is more prevalent in summer and clearly affects how safe they feel. It is well-known that the elderly are far less likely to be victims of crime than the young, but it is a struggle to convey this message because even talking about crime tends to heighten anxiety. Furthermore, the Survey is conducted among adults and does not take account of young people and their perceptions.  For example, some young people carry knives defensively because they know others carry them.  Fear of gangs is out of proportion to gang activity, but this is in part due to the borough’s history of gangs and its reputation.

 

In term of the fear of crime, Councillor Berg referred to social media, and how a spate of burglaries in Highams Park was fanned out of proportion by the repeated publicity it received.

 

Youth Offending Services – there have been successes in encouraging younger gang members and those on the periphery into employment, education or training, but not withholder gang members.  Referrals from Prevent programmes have had limited success.

 

Officers explained the significance of ‘bednights’ in measuring the number of offenders remanded to secure accommodation.  Courts will be less likely to pursue this if they can be persuaded that something better can be done for that young person within the community, even in the case of serious offences such as terrorism.

 

Domestic violence - Mr Macorkindale explained to the Committee the paradox in relation to domestic violence statistics.  A reduction might look good to the police and indeed the public.  However, the Council believes it is under-reported to such an extent that it would be unimpressed by reductions and would like to see an increase in reported domestic crime.  In the same vein, the revictimisation rate of 19 per cent cannot be considered satisfactory.  Experience and studies show that less than 28 per cent means that nor enough people are being picked up.  Over 40 per cent means that the systems are simply not working. 

 

Decision

 

The Committee noted the report. 

17.

COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - ACTION LOG pdf icon PDF 22 KB

Minutes:

Noted.

18.

JAMES HOLDEN

Minutes:

The Chair noted with sadness that this was the last meeting attended by James Holden, Policy and Public Affairs Officer, who was leaving the Council to take up a position with the County Councils Network.  He thanked Mr Holden for the valuable contribution he had made to the work of the authority over the past three years, and this was warmly endorsed by the Committee.