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Chiltern Community Forum – 26th September 2020 – Held via Zoom.
Chair: Andy Garnett
Introduction – AG – Welcome and introduction to the purpose of forum. We currently have 28 people on line.
Survey results – Robert Gibson. 175 responses to the survey. Residential burglary was top, with speeding a close second. ASB was third and then drug dealing, littering and parking the next priorities. These are the usual priorities, though this time there has been an increased concentration on the top three.
Amersham – 67% had residential burglary as their highest priority. Speeding and ASB next. Litter was also high. There is no room on the survey for distinction between fly tipping and normal littering, but the comments make clear that fly tipping is a major frustration.
Chesham – the first priority was speeding, followed by burglary and drug dealing. Rural crime was high amongst the Chesham villages.
Missendens – the first priority was speeding, ASB and then burglary. Parking was also a concern in particular around The Green in Holmer Green.
Chalfonts – Burglary, speeding and ASB.
There was a reasonable number of survey return from under 18’s this time. The results were similar to the adult survey.
Comments on these issues are anonymised and passed onto the police. Also, it is important for residents to report issues through the proper channels 101 or on the TVP website rather than put complaints on social media.
Police report – Inspector Richard Vine. (RV)
Burglary. There has been a reduction across the area except for Missenden which has the lowest numbers. In the 12 month period to date there has been a 15% reduction. 585-475. Operation Greenbelt is a cross border operation with other forces and agencies. There have been multiple arrests (230) for various offences.
Speeding. We continue targeting problem areas with speed detection devices. The A413 from Missenden to Gerrards Cross is a road that is impossible to use speed detectors due the layout and speed limits. We target this road in vehicles. Numerous s59 notices have been issued for the manner of driving of motorists. If they re-offend in the following 12 months their vehicle can be taken away.
Drugs. Crime incidences have gone up by 56% but with a 61% detection rate. If we concentrate on looking for drugs then the figures will go up. Our Stronghold Team have been concentrating on the Chesham area with a month long operation.
ASB. Hervines Park – complaints of youths in park socialising and lighting fires, littering and bins overflowing; bee house burnt down. In partnership with mounted branch, local NHPT and Amersham Town Council problems were quickly nipped in the bud.
There have been issues with licenced premises in the Missenden and Chesham areas. Although the pubs were fully complying with the Covid regulations at the time, customers were congregating on land near to the premises. Worked with licencing, local authority and licensee.
Matthew Barker Deputy PCC (MB).
Mr Barker talked about the importance of neighbourhood policing teams and the pressure they are under to support response teams. TVP have continued to support and maintain NHPT’s unlike other forces.
There is often a risk that NHPT work can be side-lined in favour of response teams. I am constantly impressed with officers’ local knowledge of offenders and crime hot spots.
There has been a 689 reduction in residential burglary across the TVP area. This has, in part, been due to Covid. There have been improved detections across the board.
Speeding. Would like a different approach. TVP and Hampshire have a combined Roads Policing Unit. We have a challenge in getting RP to deal with local issues. A more strategic approach to roads policing is required involving councils and looking at changing road layouts is one avenue being examined [to discourage speeding].
Drugs. As said by RV, more use of stop and search means that the incidents of drugs possession goes up.
Rural crime. This is a priority of the PCC team. There is a narrower definition of rural crime in TVP involving only agricultural property and wildlife offences.
Q – With regards to re-designing roads. Transport for Bucks will not change road layouts unless there are injuries that reach a certain tariff level. I am concerned the strategy will not reduce speeding.
MB – There are challenges in speaking with local authorities. We need to work from the ground up and this is where Community Speedwatch can help. Councils need proper data before they will consider changing road layouts. Simply relying on enforcement is not the best use of resources. We are aiming to have ANPR in all cars rather than just Roads Policing vehicles. This will have an impact on detecting offenders.
RV - Speedwatch is very important and we have good local support. Unfortunately, due to Covid they have not been up and running recently. NHPT have been doing regular speeding operations in lots of different areas. Unsurprisingly, whilst we are doing these ops there is very little speeding. We are in a connected society and within minutes of us setting up a speed operation our presence is on social media and maps.
In Chesham we have put in two extra PC’s. The recent incident involving a boy and a bus was nothing to do with speeding. He fell off his bike and hit a bus. The injuries were minor, even though the air ambulance was called. We are the first area in TVP to have three vehicles equipped with ANPR.
Q. - Chalfont St Peter is ready to roll with our community speedwatch we are just awaiting TVP go ahead, do you have any update?
RV – this is possibly due to Covid that there is a delay. I will check. There is a new member of staff who is the Speedwatch Co-ordinator for TVP – Lee Turnham who will joining shortly, based in Amersham.
Q. Does Community Speedwatch have a material impact on speeding?
MB - Yes. However, I would like it to be more nationally joined up. If there is a car that is persistently being caught speeding by Speedwatch then the driver may get a visit from police to advise him/her about their driving. However, once they go over to the neighbouring police area we do not have any record of offending. We need better data to follow up enforcement and link in with other police forces.
Q. - In Great Missenden there is a sign that lights up showing 30mph. What happens to the data recorded?
RV – These speed indication devices are usually put up by councils. They are just a reminder of the speed limit to drivers. Speedwatch can be tasked to particular roads where we have complaints. With regards to speed cameras and the mobile vans they are tasked to accident hot spots.
Q. – Do TVP have engagement with HS2 particularly in regards to the roadworks on the A413? How much does it affect normal police work?
RV – There is a close working relationship between TVP and HS2 and a specific team set up to deal. Traffic management is an issue dealt with by Transport for Bucks and the council.
Q – Regarding policing of COVID-19
Covid 19 has had a big impact on policing. We follow the Four E’s approach. Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce. National guidance is that enforcement is the last resort. There is lots of confusion with members of the public.
One PCSO is retiring; successor lined up. The neighbourhood team is a small one and the police officers are expected to backfill the response teams.
Q. – Is there a Speedwatch team in Chesham? No.
Q. – Are domestic violence and sexual abuse included in the crime stats?
RV – They are included in the figures under violence against the person offences. Domestic violence calls to police have gone up by 20%, likewise violence against the person calls have risen by 25%. They are not included in the forum data but they are in police stats. It is important for everyone to signpost people who they think may be suffering from domestic abuse. Initiatives are being pursued through the Community Safety Partnership Plan.
Q. – I have never seen mobile speed vans in Chesham but regularly in Oxford. We seem to get a raw deal in Buckinghamshire.
RV – as said previously, the vans get tasked to accident hotspots. Q - Discussion regarding Asian gold burglaries.
PRIORITY SETTING It was noted that the survey votes had been more concentrated than ever on the top 3 concerns – Residential Burglary, Speeding, ASB. If dropped, this would be the first time that drugs have not been adopted as a top three priority. Discussion whether speeding should be a NHPT priority.
AG – Normally we would vote what the priorities should be. Obviously, this is not possible so using the survey the priorities are Residential burglary Speeding Anti-social behaviour.