Agenda item

2021 Safer Lambeth Partnership Scrutiny Report

Wards: All

 

Report Authorised by:Executive Director Adult Social Care: Fiona Connolly

 

Contact for enquiries: Trevor East, Community Safety Partnership Manager, TEast@lambeth.gov.uk; and Anthony Lewis, Assistant Director, Community Safety, ALewis3@lambeth.gov.uk

 

Minutes:

Councillor Jacqui Dyer, Deputy Leader of the Council (Jobs, Skills and Community Safety), Bayo Dosunmu, Deputy Chief Executive and Strategic Director of Resident Services; and Jeanette Young, Director of Children's Commissioning and Community Safety, introduced the annual statutory report as follows:

·           The report provided an overview of the Safer Lambeth Partnership (SLP) and priority areas such as violence against young people, the Lambeth Made Safer (LMS) Strategy; counter terrorism, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), anti-social behaviour (ASB) and substance misuse.

·           The appendix provided an update from the previous year’s recommendations and structure of governance of both SLP and LMS programmes.

·           Crime and disorder was a complicated process delivered through multiple collaborative partnerships.  There was a current review of the Partnership to improve the safety of citizens and aimed to make Lambeth one of the safest London boroughs.

·           There were concerns, such as on Stop and Search, which needed further prioritisation and more proactivity as illustrated by Child Q case.

·           This report would inform the draft Partnership Plan and scrutiny of its delivery; and on how to respond transparently and comprehensively to the Strategic Needs Assessment.

·           Benchmarking performance during Covid-19 lockdowns was difficult, which had caused low levels of ASB, whilst Lambeth’s geography and demographics complicated this further.

·           It was essential to build trust and confidence with the community and deliver with partners.

·           The SLP was being refreshed post Covid-19, via the Crime and disorder Plan and Crime Reduction Plan.  This included additional capacity in a larger Community Safety team, and improved effectiveness and co-working with external colleagues and partners.

 

The Committee next heard from Alex James, Lambeth Youth Council (LYC) representative:

·           He had met with the Victim Care Unit (VCU) to discuss the Child Q case, noting that it could cause a generation of trauma for those affected by similar events.

·           The LYC planned to work with Lambeth’s and Southwark’s Young Advisors to promote awareness of and campaign on young people’s rights during Stop and Search and the role of officers, via leaflets and attendance at school assemblies.

 

Reahanna Gordon, Lambeth Young Advisor, next provided representation:

·           Lambeth Young Advisors worked alongside Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers and with the Independent Advisory Group (IAG), who also provided advice to the MPS.

·           The school in the Child Q case had emailed that it did not know how to challenge the Police to ensure actions were justifiable and proportionate.

·           Police information needed to be more instructive and accessible, and the public needed to be able to understand how they could challenge Police officers.

 

The Chair read an anonymous resident statement on the impacts of ASB:

·           Their local area had been a quiet, friendly community, but ASB from two properties comprising excessive noise at night and drug misuse had taken place over two years. This escalated to excessive littering, discarded drug paraphernalia, intimidation of residents, drug dealing and a physical confrontation between a resident and one of the young men involved.

·           Initial Police activity only resulted in the perpetrators moving to another nearby property, but then moved back and continued as before. Further Police activity and arrests initially offered improvement, but one tagged individual continued to deal drugs and other ASB soon resumed.

·           The extreme stress made residents consider moving away until Police introduced cameras which appeared to have a positive impact and it was hoped that these would remain.

·           It was surprising that a once friendly community could be altered so quickly by only two properties and demonstrated the significant impact of ASB and the time taken for resolution.

 

The Committee next heard from Marina Ahmad, London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark and Police and Crime Committee Member:

·           The Mayor of London was the Police and Crime Commissioner, but appointed a Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, who was delegated the functions of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). MOPAC led on the MPS’s performance and set strategic priorities.

·           The Police and Crime Plan had been released on 24 March 2022.

·           The MPS comprised over 33,000 officers, 2,000 Police Special Constables, 10,000 police staff, and 1,000 Probation Services Officers.

·           The Police and Crime Committee met bi-weekly and scrutinised the MPS’s performance, resources, pay and pensions, recruitment and diversity, and the MPS estate.

·           The Mayor’s priorities included reducing and preventing violence, increasing trust and confidence, improving victim support, and protecting people at risk of exploitation and harm.

·           VAWG was a key priority and would always be a threat, noting that over 130 women had been killed by men over the last year in the UK, although awareness of VAWG was increasing.

·           The Mayor had labelled VAWG an epidemic and had campaigned for misogyny to be a hate crime.

·           A public health approach was needed to tackle VAWG via the education of young males, working with offenders to change behaviours, and ensuring the Police had requisite resourcing and tools.

·           The Police and Crime Committee had recently released a VAWG report which could be shared with the Committee.  A VAWG Strategy was also expected.

·           Stop and Search significantly impacted community-Police relations but was a vital tool to remove weapons and disrupt drug supplies, but how it needed to be proportional and intelligence-based.

·           The Action Plan was developed following consultation with other 400 Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals and groups, and work taken in relation to the disproportionate use of Police Stop and Search powers. The key to building trust was to have a more representative and understanding MPS, and the GLA provided £1.2m over three years to support recruitment and progression of Black officers, and £700,000 for community-led training to improve understanding.

·           Claire Waxman, London’s Victims’ Commissioner, was engaging directly with Black women and survivors to inform the VAWG Strategy, and the Police’s Public Attitude Survey would improve representation of London’s Black communities.

·           The MPS Chief of Staff had noted that the extended exit survey would improve information-gathering on why staff left the MPS to aid recruitment and retention.

·           The numbers of Black, Asian and minority ethnic officers leaving was not high, but this was often due to discrimination.

 

The Committee also heard from Livia Whyte, Head of Special Projects and Legacy at Black Thrive:

·           Black Thrive had influenced the LMS to provide an anti-racist lens to the Strategy.

·           A review of Stop and Search in collaboration with King’s College highlighted it as a form of trauma and disproportionality targeted black people.  This research also showed that young people with Stop and Search experience had poorer health outcomes.

·           Further work was needed than those currently in operation to improve community-Police trust.

·           VAWG disproportionately affected black women, but also impacted on other family members.

·           Black Thrive were interested in conducting further research on the impact of violence from the public or the state, such as from disproportionate search in the Child Q case.

·           Black Thrive requested more influence on training officers at Hendon and in Stop and Search, and were collaborating with young people to provide feedback, noting that even more should be done.

·           Black Thrive was setting up its own research institute and observatory.

 

Colin Wingrove, Chief Superintendent (Borough Commander); Norman Perry, London Fire Brigade (Borough Commander); the Cabinet Member and officers responded to questions as follows:

·           The Police acknowledged the shock, and level of upset over the Child Q case, in addition to the murder of Sarah Everard and the numerous instances of discrimination against Black people.

·           The MPS had much to do to repair and regain confidence.

·           The Police were committed to working together with communities and groups such as the Young Advisors; and noted that it was essential to build trust and be proactive in improving approaches.

·           The Police continued to listen to feedback and ensure there were different ways in which they were able to do so, including: the relationship with the IAG which remained strong and active critical friends to the Police; through the Community Monitoring Group; and engagement with Black Thrive to embed Stop and Search into the Disrupt and Deter (LMS) workstream; and engagement work in schools.

·           Neighbourhood engagement was fundamental to improvement, such as the recent Town Centre Team launch, upcoming growth in dedicated ward officers, the approach of the Schools and Youth Engagement Officers, in addition to working closely with Council partners, community partners and community groups demonstrating the significance of this approach.

·           This approach was strategized through the LMS Strategy and the Safer Neighbourhood Ward Panels that were already in place to improve engagement and the Borough Commander had recently met with ward Chairs to help set local priorities and to listen and respond to concerns. Through the LMS Strategy and Lambeth Made Communities, the first tranche of wards also had Community Forums to also improve engagement and ensure communities were safe.

·           The MPS was a learning organisation that listened to and developed community initiatives to restore trust, such as Project Vigilant which focused on and targeted perpetrators of serious sexual offences.  The Walk and Talk Scheme listened to local women and would be expanded to other groups, to help understand local issues, build bridges and feedback into local plans and responses.

·           The MPS response to the Daniel Morgan HMIC report was led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray, which had delivered a number of actions and recommendations. 

·           The MPS had previously begun to address standards and culture, including delivery of some HMIC actions such as a new Chief Inspector post responsible for professionalism.  This position would improve professional standards, deliver training and professionalism plans, and monitor progress.

·           The Borough Commander and senior leaders recently briefed all officers on expected standards. 

·           SIGMA had recently been launched to enable MPS staff to anonymously report issues, such as sexism, in addition to existing channels of reporting and processes such as for misconduct.

·           The MPS was encouraging and empowering staff to report behaviour outside its values, in addition to providing toolkits and training for frontline supervisors to ensure alertness and responses.

·           The MPS acknowledged concerns and questions raised, but it should be recognised that the vast majority of officers were good, hard-working public servants, but all officers needed to meet these standards and level of expectation.

·           Lambeth was committed to reducing knife crime and was undertaking weapon sweeps, noting that inspections did not take place at schools, but a public approach was key.

·           Whilst the Police led on ASB, a collaborative approach with the Council, partners, and the wider community, and elevating a community-led approach, was required. Within the Council’s Public Protection and Regulatory Services was a drive to transfer community wardens into community liaison officers to better support communities and co-ordinate responses.

·           Prevention was central to the Council’s strategic aims across its’ and partners’ functions, such as with Housing Associations, schools, and health colleagues; to identify issues before prosecution and so that enforcement was not the first option. 

·           Lambeth’s Community Monitoring Group was run by Black Thrive and reviewed Police body cameras, engagement and had witnessed impressive incident diffusion, but also offered advice and guidance.

·           Young advisors were actively involved with the local MPS on Stop and Search improvements.

·           One of the MPS’s core responsibilities was crime detection, reduction, and prevention. 

·           National crime detection rates had fallen in recent years, but the Police were reviewing investigations, working with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and implementing new techniques such as DNA and CCTV to maximise opportunities to solve and prevent crime.

·           The MPS had engaged with Operation Bluestone to improve the quality of responses to rape offences and had charged more rape offences than across London in the last few months, with resourcing also increasing.

·           The Borough Commander invited Members to discuss the Walk and Talk Scheme and other engagement outside the meeting to implement further improvement.

·           Weapons Sweeps were jointly undertaken and progressing well, but communications, such as leaflet drops, could be undertaken to ensure outcomes from such activities.

·           Stop and Search was undergoing numerous improvements, such as via the Lambeth Young Advisors led session to engage with young people, or through the Marcus Lipton Centre and in schools.  These were important to restore trust and provide more information to the public, but further work was needed.

·           The roles of the Community Monitoring Group and independent advisors also added to scrutiny and ensured powers were used fairly, professionally and led by intelligence.

·           Stop and Search volumes had decreased, but outcomes had increased. Intelligence-led, outcome-focused approaches needed to continue, whilst ensuring powers were used fairly.

·           Further research, as from Kings’ College and Black Thrive was essential to inform the MPS’s approach and was welcomed, and the MPS welcomed this to further improve services.

·           Members of the public and community leaders now spoke to new recruits at Hendon to give lived or community experiences and were reflected in officer learning.

·           Co-working with partners and other agencies was needed as the range of powers available to the Police were limited and the Partnership Tasking Group regularly reviewed this information and how it was captured.  An example would be TRAs or housing associations playing a pivotal role in ASB.

·           The Railton Road incident did not involve batteries and was a Police matter.

·           Fires resulting from batteries or white goods such as fridges were investigated by the Fire Investigation team and reported back to the manufacturers and to Government to address issues; and could result in manufacturers facing product recall.

·           The Fire Brigade had worked with Transport for London (TfL) on electric scooters which were now banned on the Underground.

·           It was noted that batteries bought from a reputable stores and manufacturers should be safe, but those bought over the internet or market stools were often the cause of incidents.

·           The following battery fires had been recorded in Lambeth: for e-Bikes one in 2019 and four in 2020; for e-Scooters two in 2021; e-Cigarettes one in 2017 and one in 2020; and lithium-ion batteries one in 2018. 

·           The Fire Investigation team liaised with Environmental Standards Agency and reports were publicised via London Councils.

 

In discussion, Members requested that the next statutory Crime and Disorder meeting receive:

·           the Partnership Plan and metrics on the tangible outcomes of the Plan;

·           statistics on intimate body searches broken down by age, ethnicity, and gender undertaken in Lambeth including specific details of any such searches undertaken in Lambeth schools and colleges;

·           assurance of the MPS re-prioritising reducing crime; and,

·           crime statistics, monitoring and how targets were being met.

 

RESOLVED:

1.         The Metropolitan Police needed to improve identifying officers who abuse their position; and its vetting, recruitment, and training to ensure that officers adhere to the highest standards of the service and merit trust; and to provide details of how new recruits are assessed in Lambeth and their retention rates.

2.         To improve black and ethnic minority communities’ representation on community monitoring structures, neighbourhood forums, panels and in the Police itself; and to provide details of current and target Black, Asian and minority ethnic representation.

3.         To provide more detailed and effective oversight on the principles and grounds for stop and search; and improve and increase community-led training for police officers.

4.         To establish a model of best practice and structure by which ASB is prioritised and investigated in a multi-agency approach, including taking appropriate action to help design out crime, such as installing more cameras and involving more partners to improve safety. This should include improving preventative measures such as identifying where other services’ involvement would improve resolution and more careful consideration of mental health issues presenting as ASB.

5.         To ensure the MPS was more representative of communities it serves and identify reasons why officers left the service; and for the Partnership to provide the Committee with metrics and targets for Black, Asian and minority ethnic officer recruitment, retention, and progression to senior leadership.

6.         To ensure schools and other organisations know how to challenge the Police, with stronger relations and wider involvement with community groups such as the Youth IAG and Safer Neighbourhood Board.  Additionally, to ensure that this information, such as presented to the Stop and Search Monitoring Group, was published on the Lambeth website.

7.         To ensure the MPS worked actively and more positively with a diverse range of organisations, such as the Council, Transport for London, and local businesses; to guarantee Lambeth as a safe place to live and work.  This should include increasing visible neighbourhood policing with more police officers patrolling the streets in high crime areas and town centres in Lambeth.

8.         The implementation of the Disrupt and Deter Strategy should include a senior representative to ensure better communications with local communities and explain the reason for operations, their outcome, and future plans; to provide reassurance and mitigate trauma; and to increase engagement with ward councillors.

 

 

Supporting documents: