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Spelthorne Crime Summit, 22/09/2015: my notes

Author Webmaster, - upd.
I know, I know, it's 2016, not 2015. I am publishing my notes on the 2015 Spelthorne Crime Summit eleven months too late. For instance, Kevin Hurley is not any more the PCSS for Surrey.
Well, read this page and tell me if you heard about the "Joint Enforcement Team" lately...


Stanwell Moor is part of the Spelthorne borough, so I went to the Spelthorne Crime Summit, on 22nd September 2015, to learn more about how crime is being fought in our borough. Here are my notes.

The summit was chaired by Roberto Tambini, Chief Executive of the Burough of Spelthorne. There were about 40 people attending, most of whom were involved in some capacity with local government. I reckon there were no more than 10-15 members of the public. And since the invitation mentioned "refreshments", I am obliged to point out that a couple of dozen cookies (as a whole, not per person) are never going to be enough for such an event. But I digress...

PRESENTATION OF THE JOINT ENFORCEMENT TEAM (JET) BY LEE O'NEILL
It has been operative since December 2014, fully staffed since February 2015. It acts on illegal estate agents boards, abandoned vehicles, illegal moorings (46/year so far! I would never have expected narrow boat people to be Public Enemies!), dog fouling (50/year so far. Sh*t!), general patrols (260 this year), fixed penalty notices (200, i.e. dropping rubbish/chewing gums/cigarette butts), "interventions" (60, the term covers saving people from drowning in the river, returning lost children to parents, etc.), fly-tips (dropping large amounts of rubbish).

Lee O'Neill - Spelthorne Assistant Chief Executive - said JET uniforms have been very successful. His grandchild also told him the uniforms are "cool" and police-like.

PRESENTATION ON SECURITY BY PAUL SMITH
Paul Smith, Community Safety Officer, said that a project in Ashford with the Community Payback system (people who have to "do" community service) plus volunteers and a garden centre, is trying to make a piece of land near the train station more appealing.

Unlike other speakers, Smith appears to focus heavily on rehabilitating former criminals, to reduce the number of future crimes. This might be an unpopular view in a meeting like this, which seems to be slanted towards conservative politics.

The presenter did not use PowerPoint slides, he explained everything verbally. Good.

SURREY POLICE IN SPELTHORNE, BY ALAN SPROSTON

... and we are back to PowerPoint. The first slide is about how members of the public should deal with persistent anti-social behaviour. "Community trigger" is a way to force handling reports (at least three in six months) that have been wholly ignored by the police. Why reports should be ignored by police? Sproston, a Neighbourhood Inspector, mentioned the website ASB Help, but I could not catch the URL.

Issues handled: crack houses closed in Green Leas, Elm Court, Shears Court. Mopeds seized for anti-social riding style in Staines, Ashford and Stanwell. Not Stanwell Moor.

Typical crimes handled: cannabis, break-ins, car crimes. A cannabis house in Sunbury has been closed. Arrests for burglary in Stanwell have been made. Arrests in Ashford for vehicle crimes. Increased focus on domestic abuse, with victims being encouraged to report incidents to Police (as opposed to claim that "they fell from the stairs", I guess).

A Facebook panel (Q&A?) will take place on 30/09, obviously online.

In last slide, "Our Goal", the poster of Robocop 3 is used near an image of BBC's PC Pinkerton cartoon, to highlight how broad is the range of expectations from policemen.


KEEPING SURREY SAFER, BY KEVIN HURLEY

Kevin Hurley is the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Surrey, and is based in Guildford, I believe. To be honest, he and Roberto Tambini are the only people I remember from the 2014 Crime Summit.
Hurley is not aligned with any of the main political parties, he says, but other CC for other counties are. Is that bad? Are those political appointments? Just asking.

"Zero tolerance" is Hurley's mantra, as I noticed during the previous summit. "People blighting our life", repeated several times during the summit, is the collective way he employs to describe people who commit crimes, small and big ones. And with his other key expression, "Focus on the victims", it is clear that Hurley and Paul Smith put different emphasis on the rehabilitation of people who have committed offences.

Surrey is using money seized from criminal (about 20% of what has been seized last year) to fight speeding, drunk driving, mobile use when driving.

"To be Uncompromising in the Standards You expecct from Your Police", says a leaflet available at the summit, which presents the PCC's views (under the title "The People's Priorities"). Since his office also handles complaints against policemen, it is only natural for a Commissioner to want the police to behave in a irreprehensible manner.

In order to fight the rising number of cyber crimes, www.cybersafesurrey.something has been created. Damien, the police officer who intervened to mention this website, forgot to mention the TLD (domain) of the website. It is bound .gov.uk, right? Wrong. Maybe .co.uk? Wrong again. It's www.cybersafesurrey.org. Let's hope no criminal registers cybersafesurrey.net, that might generate confusion!

Another crime on the rise is children grooming and exploitation. Is it becoming more frequent or just more visible? Even if it's not widespread, the police are gearing up to handle such issue. Let us hope they can avoid the common pitfalls of such situations.

Domestic violence is present and visible and the police are working hard to tackle it. Domestic terrorism is potentially present too. Hurley insists that he wants to obtain more funding from the government for Surrey. I remember at the last summit, one year ago, it was mentioned that extra police cars would increase visibility and effectiveness without being overly onerous.

The last slide (Hurley is not immune from the say-it-with-words-and-with-Powerpoint-too syndrome) shows PCs (constables, not computers!), cars and a helicopter (a black and yellow Eurocopter EC135, with a characteristic fenestron tail rotor). Glad to learn that the helicopter I often see from the front window of my Stanwell Moor home is a police chopper!

"Surrey is the safest county in the country" is Kevin Hurley's closing statement. I hope he's right.


5) PAUL SMITH, COMMUNITY SAFETY OFFICER

Doing education in primary school, not just regarding crime, fouling, good behaviour on public transport, but also about healthy food. Children appears tech-savvy yet VERY shy regarding using the free line to ask for help.

"The cookies you had before the meeting are those which we seized one month ago because they were past their expiry date. Enjoy!" (he did not say "enjoy", ok, but he said it in a funny way).

While working on a small case (parking issue), he discovered the person reporting this (an old lady) might have been suffering from dementia, so he took on that case too, which was resolved with inter-force communication, apparently. The lady was put into "sheltered housing" (is it different from "being put in a house"?).

Breaking the cycle of "multi-generation crime", families who are stuck in a life of crime.

6) JACKIE TALKS ABOUT CHILDREN ENGAGEMENT & OTHER JUNIOR ACTIVITIES


END OF THE PRESENTATIONS - Q&A NOW?

Q: An OAP (a police officer for 25 years) asks where are all these policemen. He always only see one in Shepperton, and it's actually a PCSO!
A: Kevin Hurley answers. Most answer 999 calls on five shifts and three locations. He then goes on explaining how officers investigating, or being ready for intervention. Therefore, despite having many policemen, they are not so visible on the street, at least in Shepperton. He - Hurley - then goes off on a tangent, explaining how the government wants to move the fire brigade under the CC (him, in the case of Surrey).
A (2): the police officer (3rd presenter above) goes in more details and explains that his officers are occupied in less visible activity.

Q: a question on parking on double yellow lines, and whether JETs can prosecute that.
A: no, they can't. Hurley intervenes and says that most people parking on double yellow lines are known criminals, and the failure to fine/prosecute them means that some real criminals could be caught this way and are not. "Mostly, non-criminals do not park on double yellow lines", he said, more or less. He would have a shock in Italy.

Q: If five officers intervene after an assault, and all of them are slapped/scratched/shoved, the incident becomes six assaults, thus incrising the number of crimes for the area even though (the questioner says) there's only one incident.
A: the police now has to report every single incident, so yes, cases like the above will cause a perceived short-trm increment of crime in the county. And long-term?

Q: Lack of visible police in a street in ... Shepperton, despite an increase in small crime (fly-tipping and similar). Absence of Neighbour Watch. Young woman speaking, good education.
A: "Alan" (policeman) and Hurley ask the girl to do the legwork (my word) and collect information from her neighbours, maybe even footage/images of the violations.

Q: Cooperation with Sussex police.
A: The council tax in Sussex is lower, so collaboration with Sussex would bring them more policing paid - mostly - by Surrey.

Q: an OAP (police-style person) says last year we supported the idea of giving PCSOs more powers. Why has it not happened?
A: Hurley is keen to move in that direction, but he does not have the power to implement this. "Alan" reminds all us that PCSOs are employees while policemen are Crown representatives. PCSOs "look" for work, i.e. they do the leg work, the patrolling, the police acts upon their information.

During his presentation, and other times during the meeting, Hurley mentioned a 15 years old girl who ran away from her (foster) home, was picked up by adults for "sexual grooming", was saved before more violence occurred, then tried to run away and go back to those adults, resisting police efforts. For lack of appropriate accommodation, the police had to let her sleep on the floor of the police station, and no less than two PCs had to always be with her, to avoid having accusations of sexual 'anything' raised by the troubled girl against the police.

The summit ends at 21:04.


Date: 22/08/2016, 13:43
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