Inspector Andy Norton and Cath Fairweather were welcomed to the meeting to update Members with regard to changes to the Safer Neighbourhoods Service. It was explained that the service was taking a multi-agency approach, with a new structure focussed on tackling crime, anti social behaviour and supporting and protecting vulnerable people.
Each area will be fully covered and will include tasking officers, PCSOs, community engagement, hate crime co-ordination and gypsy liaison, with a focus on conversation rather than a complicated plan. The service will be more focussed as there are less staff and will use a case management approach to dealing with offenders, protecting vulnerable people and dealing with repeat callers, a high percentage of whom are the same individuals. Resources will be demand driven and will concentrate on locations such as shops, businesses and schools, looking at the root cause of the issue and what the best approach will be. Information from PACT meetings will be invaluable and the MAG will be used for case escalation when necessary.
A number of recent case studies were highlighted, including a case where an individual who had been posing as a council worker to take advantage of vulnerable people had been issued with a Criminal Behaviour Order (which replace Anti-Social Behaviour Orders); a closure order was issued on a drug dealing address in the Old Town area); work had taken place around security improvement with Barnsley Hospital to address thefts on wards and with Kendray Hospital around mental health patients who were missing from hospital. In the North area two repeat callers had generated 64 calls, one was a vulnerable adult and one had mental health issues. Through using a multi-agency approach, this demand had been diverted elsewhere. Repeat callers were down 46% using the new targeted approach.
In summary, although resources have been reduced, the demand on Police and partners has reduced through using a more focussed approach whilst still protecting vulnerable adults and the environment. Partner agencies are held to account, public confidence has improved and greater use is made of volunteers and neighbourhood watch. Area Council funded officers are also enhancing services, making an impact in communities and yielding results, including helping to combat social isolation.
Members asked a number of questions to which appropriate responses were given. These included:
A problem with break-ins and damage to cars and property had been experienced in the Old Town ward. There was a considerable delay before any action was taken. It was explained that speed of response would depend on circumstances but the World Cup and President Trump’s visit to the UK had meant that resources had to be diverted. Police have to place risk to life over risk to property but are happy to look at individual cases outside the meeting.
A Member queried why Mapplewell police station had been closed and why email correspondence bounced back as the mailbox was full. It was explained that Estates issues were dealt with at Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) level so the rationale for this was unclear. If Members go on to the South Yorkshire Police website they can access email addresses and phone numbers for their individual areas.
Members were aware of the problem of ‘Spice’ ( a synthetic cannabinoid), particularly in the Town Centre. It appears that this is a national problem and work is underway to strike a balance between enforcement and support for individuals. The use of this drug does not cause any harm to the public but can be disturbing to see someone who is under the influence of Spice.
All Councillors will receive targeted alerts from South Yorkshire Police, which will also include good news stories too. A rotating newsletter is planned with Barnsley Chronicle to share news and feedback to the public.
(i) Representatives be thanked for their attendance and contribution;
(ii) Members note the Safer Neighbourhoods Service update, and
(iii) Members continue to report issues in the community, particularly reporting of off road bikes.