Agenda item


Purpose of the Report: This report sets out the progress made towards achieving the 2021-2025 Police and Crime Plan since the last update to the Panel in April 2023.




Lisa Townsend, The Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey


Key points raised during the discussion:

  1. The Commissioner provided a brief overview of the progress on the police and crime plan.


  1. A Member questioned how the Commissioner would rate the Police and Crime Plan’s five objectives on a RAG scale. The Member also asked which, out of the five objectives, was the most challenging. The Commissioner stated that although the RAG scale has its place, it would not be helpful to use it in this instance. On the second point, the Commissioner noted that shoplifting had become a particular challenge with its rise nationally but that a robust plan was in place to tackle the issue.  The Commissioner was particularly proud of the work that had been achieved on VAWG, Road Safety (via the Vanguard Team) and in providing comprehensive transparency to the public via the datahub.


  1. A Member asked how the Commissioner would ensure that any learning or success from the safer streets project was applied across the county. What plans were there for “levelling up” across the rest of Surrey and beyond the towns selected. The Commissioner explained that criteria set by the Home Office for Safer Streets funding had been very specific, which limited those areas which could receive it.  However, all work was overseen via standard reporting mechanisms which ensured oversight of delivery and successes and that the community safety lead worked closely with all the community safety partnerships to ensure learning is shared.





  1. A Member noted that convictions for sexual violence in Surrey and the wider UK are extremely low and questioned the OPCC’s role in implementing Operation Soteria. The Commissioner underlined that the OPCC was the main funder of local support services for victims of crimes such as rape, sexual abuse and stalking offences, and had a close relationship with the force working on violence against women and girls to ensure effective implementation of Op Soteria. This involved ensuring that Surrey Police works closely with local services and that the right conversations are taking place. The Commissioner stated her determination to drive up convictions for violence against women and girls but also acknowledged that not every victim wants a criminal justice outcome. It was important that the force remained victim-led. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that Surrey has a good relationship with local providers and a number of third sector organisations are co-located within police teams which helps improve the force’s knowledge, skills and understanding around the needs of victims.


  1. A Member questioned whether the objective of reducing violence against women and girls was being met. The metrics provided suggested that the number of violent domestic abuse and serious sexual assault cases were higher than two years ago, while solved rates were unchanged for violent domestic abuse and significantly lower for serious sexual assaults. The Commissioner explained that the rolling 12-month average for serious sexual offence cases was down from 2,130 a year ago to 2,006, but cases of domestic violence were up. Domestic abuse and sexual offences tended to be underreported so the focus was on encouraging victims to come forward.  An uptick in reporting was to be welcomed. The Commissioner also highlighted that the 12-month rolling graphs used a non-zero baseline which meant a small fluctuation in numbers could seem exaggerated.


  1. A Member asked how the perception of safety after dark for female respondents was surveyed and questioned what safeguards were in place to ensure that the trend data was reliable. The Commissioner explained that the data was pulled from the joint neighbourhood survey, a telephone survey carried out by market research specialist. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that thew aim was to survey 6,000 residents per year and offered to share the methodology.


Action iv: OPCC to share methodology for ‘Safety after Dark survey’.




  1. A Member asked how long it will be for the ‘Right Care Right Person model’ to take effect and when there would be a drop in the burden on Surrey Police. The Commissioner stated that it would take time but that the partnership agreement was signed earlier in the summer and a national toolkit had been developed by the National Police Chief’s Council. The purpose of the new partnership agreement was to ensure all parties were clear how to work together to deliver the right services or response in the right way. The Commissioner stressed that that Police would not stop attending incidents where there was a crime or a threat to life. The national framework has four phases; getting response right around concern for welfare; walkouts from health care facilities; transportation of patients; and addressing Section one-six of the Mental Health Act. The Commissioner explained the aim to implement these phases by June 2024. After the first week of implementation the Met saw a 13% reduction in the burden on policing from mental health related incidents. A similar reduction was hoped for in Surrey.


  1. A Member questioned why serious violence, crime and knife crime are not being reported on as metrics under the priority of ‘Protecting people from harm in Surrey’. The Commissioner expressed that the data chosen was a collection of measures to help convey the progress that had been made.  If there was more specific data the panel wanted to look at, this could be provided.  A Member queried if there was a way to align the data so that what appears on the data hub is consistent with what is being reported by the Chief Constable. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that the data hub predominately uses force data. Work was underway to develop new force metrics reflecting the Chief Constable’s new vision and priorities.


  1. A Member referred to the downward trajectory of overall victim satisfaction, with 55% of victims satisfied with Surrey Police, down from 65% in July 2022. The Member asked if there was concern that the objective of protecting people from harm was therefore not being met. The Commissioner underlined that victim satisfaction varied across different crime types. The Commissioner conveyed that for quarter one for 2023/24, hate crime victim satisfaction was 77.8% and for residential burglary it was 82.8%. The Commissioner expressed that most people’s experience in initial contact with the force was positive, but there had been an overall decline in satisfaction levels, and there are specific areas where attention was needed. The Commissioner underlined the two key areas of focus: actions taken – what happens to victims after the initial call and keeping the victims informed with regular updates through their cases and managing expectations. Better communication with the public was an issue consistently raised at the community events. A dedicated discussion between the Commissioner and Chief Constable was planned for the new year.  The Panel would be updated.


  1. A Member questioned what services had been put in place to protect vulnerable and older people from fraud and cybercrime and whether the OPCC was satisfied that cyber-crime prevention was adequately addressed in everyday policing. The Commissioner outlined the joint Surrey/Sussex Police Operation aimed at protecting vulnerable people from fraud. Op Signature was considered best practice and the gold standard nationally. Fraud and cybercrime had become more complex and deceptive, especially with the use of A.I. Two vulnerable victim fraud case workers, funded by the OPCC, were now embedded within the victim and witness care unit and provided secondary visits and ongoing safeguarding to those at medium/high risk. The Commissioner highlighted the rise of romance fraud which cost the County £2m in the last year. Most of the victims are originally approached via dating apps, Facebook and WhatsApp.


  1. The Member queried if there was sufficient digital forensics investigation capability or if Surrey Police was reliant on Metropolitan Police capability. The Head of Governance and Performance referenced a HMICFRS report looking specifically at this issue.  Surrey was not in a bad place.  The report would be circulated to the Panel.



Action v: OPCC/Scrutiny Officer to circulate a HMICFRS report on Surrey Police’s digital forensics with the Panel.




  1. A Member stated that crime volumes for residential burglary, serious violence, knife crime and violent crime were higher than two years ago and questioned whether the objective of working with Surrey communities so they feel safe, was being met. The Commissioner explained that there had been a return to historical trends pre covid which has skewed figures.  The non-zero baseline used in the graphs made the fluctuations seem bigger than they were. Residential burglary crime was 2,732 this year compared to 2,737 last year. 


  1. A Member asked about the anti-social behaviour action plan. The Commissioner explained that the new method for collecting ASB data covered all incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB), including those where there was no police involvement.  The drop in victim satisfaction for ASB does not therefore reflect on police performance however it does, underline that there is a problem. The Commissioner explained that steps had been taken including funding for a dedicated service for people experiencing ASB.  OPCC continues to support and play a vital role in the ASB case review process and is engaging with the ministry of justice to ensure that victims of persistent ASB are recognised in the upcoming Victims and Prisoners bill. The Commissioner clarified that although OPCC is not part of the immediate ‘hotspot’ policing trials, the intention is for the model to be rolled out in 2024.  The Chief Constable has a renewed focus on ASB and this has been a key topic in recent policing your community events. The Commissioner highlighted 101 and digital methods for reporting anti-social behaviour where a police response is required.


  1. A Member raised a question on PCSO visibility, their community engagement and how it can be improved. The Commissioner highlighted the value of PCSOs and stated there are more PCSOs coming in, but that the Force is struggling to recruit.


  1. A Member queried what progress had been made to support Surrey’s retail and business community and asked for clarification on how to assess the business sector’s level of confidence in Surrey policing in the absence of a metric. The Commissioner explained that the Chief Constable had made retail crime a priority. The Head of Performance and Governance expressed that retail crime was recorded by the force, but that retail employees did not always feel that it was worth reporting, which was a potential issue. The Member questioned if there was a metric that could be used to show where retail/business crime had involved violence against an employee. The Head of Performance and Governance offered to speak to the head of the data-warehouse to look it.


Action vi: OPCC to feed request for violent retail crime metric into part of the wider work to develop new metrics for the Chief Constable’s force strategy.




16. A Member referenced the Grade 1 response compliance in the report and questioned why it had suffered a drop since last year with only 41% of priority calls receiving a police response within 15 minutes (September 2023). The Member also questioned what steps had been taken to ensure that the drop in service is quickly addressed. The Commissioner explained that response had been a challenge. The aim was to attend at least 90% of Grade 1 incidents within 15 minutes but the average response time was 16 minutes. The Commissioner explained that there had been a 39% increase in Grade 1 incidents which had outstripped their capabilities. The Commissioner asserted confidence that performance could be pulled back in the right direction.  The biggest new joiner cohort was currently going through training and their first allocation would be with response teams. Additionally, the ‘Right Care Right Person’ project would have an impact.


17. The Member also questioned the similar situation with 999 call performance with only 80% of calls answered within 10 seconds (September), against a national target of 90%, and asked if this was a training issue. The Commissioner explained that again there has been more demand and not enough resource to support it with 999 calls increasing nationally by 5% and by 15% in Surrey.  The contact centre had hit establishment figures but there was a capability lag.


18. A Member asked whether Surrey County Council’s abolishment of the Joint and Local committees has made it harder to provide local engagement on road safety issues and meet public expectations. The Commissioner highlighted the challenge in Surrey and for the nation where 7 people per day die on the roads. A lot of good work was being done to address this including via ‘Surrey Road Safe’, embedding the Roadsafe system and improving road safety around HGV lorries.


19. The Chairman raised a question over public confidence in Surrey Police which was significantly lower than two years ago (down from 85- 81%).  He asked whether this reflected a problem with Surrey Police’s relationships with residents or national concerns, particularly around trust in the Met police. The Commissioner said it was difficult to disentangle concerns around the Metropolitan police force and dissatisfaction with the wider criminal justice system which could spill over into dissatisfaction with Surrey police. The Commissioner expressed determination to improve public confidence in policing in Surrey.




20.  A Member questioned if there were plans to host more live showings of Safe Drive Stay Alive. The Commissioner explained that Surrey Fire and Rescue undertook a review of this project, looking into its short and long-term impact, the decision was to move away from the scheme. Conversations were happening to find an alternative but there are no planned events right now. The Commissioner reassured the panel that the money the OPCC received would be spent on other relevant schemes such as the ‘Drive Fit’ campaign.


21. A Member queried table 7.10 from the report which suggested that numbers of people killed or seriously injured were consistently higher than 2 years ago, and asked if the Commissioner would accept that the objective of ensuring safer Surrey roads was not being met. The Commissioner stated that Covid has skewed figures.   The latest figures from the rolling 12-month volume for August 2023 for those killed and seriously injured on roads, was 661 which was down from 771 from the previous year. This suggested the objective was being met, but there was still a long way to go.


22. The Member asked for more information on Operation Tramline. The Commissioner stated that this operation had been successful.  The scheme would replace Safe Drive Stay Alive, but there is a lot of work to do.





             I.        The Surrey Police and Crime Panel applauds the achievements of the OPCC as set out in the report including securing additional Safer Streets funding to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, plus £2 million in funding for a new Domestic Abuse Hub in Surrey. Both will make a real difference to Surrey residents. However, we note with some concern the drop in Grade 1 response compliance. The Surrey PCP recommends that the Commissioner prioritises resolution of this issue working with the Chief Constable and that the issue of Grade 1 response compliance remains on the agenda of forthcoming Performance meetings until such a time as there is a marked and sustained improvement in performance.


            II.        The Surrey Police and Crime Panel notes that the focus of the Report is on highlighting activities of the OPCC but questions whether the public may wish to see a more balanced assessment of progress against Police & Crime Plan priorities. The Surrey PCP recommends that the next Police and Crime Plan update (due April 2024) more directly addresses the priority areas of concern raised by residents (as reflected in community events) in addition to reporting on the successes of the OPCC.



                        Cllr Nick Prescot and Mr Martin Stilwell left at 11.59 am.

                        Cllr Nick Prescot and Mr Martin Stilwell returned at 12.03 pm.


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