To receive a presentation from Caroline Ryan, Community Safety Manager and Karen Evans, Domestic Abuse Officer on activity within the local area and priorities for Rushmoor (copy attached).
The Panel welcomed Ms. Caroline Ryan, Community Safety Manager, and Ms. Karen Evans, Domestic Abuse Officer, who gave an update and presentation to the Panel on the community safety activities and priorities for the Safer North Hampshire Partnership area (copy of presentation circulated with the agenda).
Ms. Ryan introduced the presentation with an overview of recent developments within the Safer North Hampshire Partnership and confirmed that the Partnership had become an approved City & Guilds Centre for Restorative Practice. The Panel endorsed the new designation and, in response to a question, it was explained that the initiative was targeted at rehabilitating young offenders aged up to 22 through reconciliation with victims where all parties were willing to participate. The process involved a court-like set up, managed by volunteers, aimed at achieving understanding and empathy.
The Panel noted the headlines arising from the latest Strategic Assessment of current and emerging community safety trends. However, changes had been made to crime recording, which meant that comparisons with previous data were uncertain in many crime categories, e.g. violent crime where multiple individuals were involved. As part of the changes, there were now 19 categories of anti-social behaviour for recording purposes. These related to personal, environmental and community impacts.
The priority community safety issues for Rushmoor included tackling anti-social behaviour and street drinking in parts of Aldershot, and alcohol related violent crime associated with the night-time economy in Aldershot town centre. Across the wider partnership area, the priorities also included the need to address issues related to substance misuse, and vulnerabilities, which included the “Prevent” programme, hate crime, child exploitation and domestic abuse.
The Panel explored current activities and progress on the local issues in further detail. On substance misuse, Members welcomed news that new legislation was expected to be introduced which would prohibit premises such as the Skunkworks shop in Aldershot from selling psychoactive substances. In the meantime, it was noted that the Partnership would be seeking a further closure of the business on the grounds of anti-social behaviour impacts, which appeared to have increased since it had reopened. Linked to this, it was suggested for future consideration, that businesses which benefitted from the night-time economy could contribute to the costs of policing and remedying the associated impacts, possibly through the use of fixed penalty notices.
In discussing the topic of radicalisation, it was noted that strategic planning and activities for the area were co-ordinated through the Strategic Prevent Board for Hampshire, which had clear communication links and reporting lines with colleges. The Panel asked about links with local mosques, imams and community leaders and it was confirmed that the local police had connections with religious leaders. However, a lot of work was focused on families who had been identified as high risk for radicalisation. At the national level, the Home Office had enabled initiatives whereby individuals who had been radicalised in the past were involved in education and awareness campaigns.
Ms. Evans presented an update on domestic and child exploitation crime including current data and activities co-ordinated by the Domestic Abuse Forum (as set out in the presentation slides). The Panel welcomed and endorsed recent initiatives carried out in schools and communities and the improved recording of domestic crimes. It was noted that new legislation for dealing with coercive control was expected in December.
Further to a question about the project carried out with the military community on domestic crime awareness, it was clarified that the impetus for the work had been to break down barriers to reporting domestic crime, as reporting levels within this community were much lower than might be expected for the total population figure. Reporting of domestic crime was also low amongst the Nepali community, and measures were being taken to address this through initiatives that focussed on education and raising awareness. It was acknowledged that there were cultural differences, and a Member asked about levels of domestic crime for Nepal. It was agreed that this would be forwarded after the meeting, and acknowledged that definitions for recording purposes would vary between countries and cultures.
With reference to both domestic and child exploitation crime, including FGM (Female Genital Mutilation), the Panel noted that the key challenge was finding a way to surface the issues with groups and individuals, particularly those that were hard to reach. Measures were being taken to work with young people through schools and role-play events, and to work with GPs on reporting safeguarding issues.
In concluding, the Panel thanked Ms Ryan and Ms Evans for their presentation and emphasised the importance of maintaining up-to-date and informed evidence and information, which clearly demonstrated the need for continued funding for community safety priorities for North Hampshire.
The Panel NOTED the presentation and AGREED that an update would be brought back the following year, enabling a comparison of data from this year and emerging trends.