This report provides an update on the meetings that have been held and what has been discussed in order to demonstrate that arrangements for good governance and scrutiny are in place.
David Munro - Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
Key points raised in the discussion:
1. In response to a Member question concerning the slight decrease in confidence levels in Surrey Police due to unauthorised encampments, the PCC noted that the rise in unauthorised encampments was a significant issue in 2017 and the joint response by Surrey Police and the landowner - often borough councils was inadequate.
2. However at present, Members were reassured that through increased training, police officers in Surrey did know their specific legal powers and had a good liaison with borough councils and other landowners like the National Trust. Although difficult to obtain, the injunctions from the High Court were very useful, whereby Elmbridge Borough Council prohibited travellers on its owned land, reducing the number of unauthorised encampments compared to areas without injunctions - such as in Guildford.
3. Some Members urged the Panel to look into transit sites in their boroughs and districts and the PCC emphasised that as travelling was a lawful activity, transit sites were necessary for travellers to go to. It was essential that the new section of the existing act was utilised in Surrey - as it was in Sussex - as it would allow senior officers to direct travellers from unauthorised encampments to legal transit sites.
4. In response to a Member concern, the PCC noted that the urgency to establish transit sites had run out this year, himself and the CC remained to urge borough councils on this. Additionally, the PCC stated that the Government had put out paper for consultation on whether unauthorised encampments should be subject to aggravated trespassing laws - as in the Republic of Ireland - but the PCC believed the current law was adequate.
5. A Member stressed that breaking into a field was illegal and his residents did not agree that the law was not inadequate. Surrey Police should include the offence of aggravated trespassing in prosecuting unlawful travelling and he noted a case in his borough and district where someone’s tools were stolen from their van. Surrey Police did not follow-up that case despite the person recording the burglars. In response, the PCC stated that the police could only prosecute with adequate evidence and was open to note any incidents. The urged Members to contact their Member of Parliament if they felt the police were not doing enough.
6. In response to the Member’s question, the PCC noted that the recent consultation on the traveller and gypsy policy was in place with borough councils.
7. The PCC responded positively to a Member suggestion that in his election drive in 2020, he should have a specific policy for residents’ protection by Surrey Police concerning unauthorised encampments. The PCC noted that this was already in his current Police and Crime Plan, but he would re-emphasise it next year.
8. In response to a Member question on the performance scorecard, the PCC explained that updates on police performance went to the Panel every six months, but agreed that the actual performance scorecard would go to the Panel.
9. In response to a Member query on the 3 and 6 month review - where he thought 6 months prolonged the case - concerning the Positive Outcome Rates on Rape and Sexual Offences, the PCC was happy with that time frameas more frequent reviews would hinder the speed to resolved cases but would look into what was achieved within the 3 month gap between reviews.
10. The PCC stated that the crime-solving rate for all crimes was not as high as he believes it should be due to pressure on resources and the increase in reported crimes.The use of extra detectives to solve crimes would ease pressure from NeighbourhoodPolicing Teams.
11. In response to the Vice-Chairman’s query on ‘abstraction’ across thirteen of the forces operations this year which affected ‘investigative capacity’, the PCC explained thatabstraction referred to officers being removed from local policing shifts to do tackle high priority issues such as Brexit, where the date of exit kept changing. Successful abstraction from as far away as Lancashire was used to assist the European Convention of Hells Angels in Mole Valley in the summer.
That the Police and Crime Panel noted the update on the PCC’s Performance Meetings.
Actions/Further information to be provided:
1. R59/19: The PCC responded positively to a Member suggestion that in his election drive in 2020, he should have a specific policy for residents’ protection by Surrey Police concerning unauthorised encampments. The PCC noted that this was already in his current Police and Crime Plan, but he would re-emphasise it next year.
2. R60/19: The performance scorecard will go to the Panel at an upcoming meeting.
3. R61/19: The PCC will look into what was achieved within the 3 month gap between reviews concerning the Positive Outcome Rates on Rape and Sexual Offences.