Agenda item

Police Issues

30 minutes is allocated for questions to the Gwent Police representative.


The Presiding Member welcomed Superintendent Vicki Townsend, who provided council members with an update on Police issues within East, West and Central Newport.


The Presiding Member invited the Deputy Leader to address Superintendent Townsend.


The Deputy Leader thanked Supt Townsend for attending full council and specifically wanted to thank the Police on behalf of all council colleagues, in particular Chief Inspector John Davies for the information he shared with councillors at the beginning of the New Year.   The newsletter that he provided outlined the geographical priorities within wards which was informative and helpful.  What was especially welcomed was his staged intent to meet with all councillors in person in February and a key opportunity for councillors to raise residents’ concerns and to work with police to reduce crime in the local areas. It was good to know that these meetings would be held quarterly going forward and would strengthen relationships with elected members and their local police team.


The report also referred to the sterling work of the Council’s Trading Standards Team who worked closely with the police and received some positive outcomes which needed applauding and noting.


Questions to the Police raised by Councillors:


§  Councillor M Evans referred to the 20mph enforcement across the city and asked would police resources be affected by maintaining this.  The Superintendent assured Councillor Evans that front line officers would not redirected from other duties to dealing with new speed enforcement issues.


§  Councillor Al Nuaimi also passed on thanks to city centre inspectors who engaged in regular meetings and also expressed his best wishes to Sean Conway who left the role  and welcome Hannah Welty. Councillor Al-Nuaimi asked the Superintendent about the Knife Angel project and for feedback onto the effectiveness of the instalment in the city centre. The Superintendent outlined the positive feedback on the Knife Angel and how well it was received from a community perspective. The overarching work was being manged by Matt Edwards, a police officer who worked in the police head quarters who was looking at the wider impacts, however it was still early to report at this stage but an update on the findings of the report could be provided at the next meeting.


§  Councillor M Howells, as a member of the Planning Committee noted the lack of feedback from the police in relation to planning applications.  In addition to this, when speaking to local police officers, they are often not aware of these applications and felt that they could make a contribution.  Cllr Howells questioned how the council and police could therefore work together to ensure better communication for the future, in particular, applications relating to Housing in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).  The Superintendent agreed that the police would like to be part of the consultation for planning applications; unfortunately opportunities had been missed and suggested that she and Councillor Howells arrange a separate meeting to discuss a way forward.


§  Councillor Whitehead referred to antisocial behaviour in Bettws which he considered was usually the same offenders.  Cllr Whitehead queried whether there was an escalation process for police to make home visits. The Superintendent  advised that there was always an escalation process in place with a raft of civil options available which have been used successfully in the past.  Superintendent Townsend recommended that the councillor raise these issues at the monthly police meetings, if they were not already reported to the police, as this would help them put together a civil order or criminal investigation, whichever might be appropriate in the circumstances.


§  Councillor Morris asked for an update on E-bikes.  The Superintendent confirmed that the Road Policing Support Special Operations (RPSSO) were running a special E-scooter operation across Gwent including Newport, but was not sure on the figures for Newport. However, there had been a number of seizures, including three from one specific arrest in the Maesglas area.  The Superintendent reflected that, unfortunately, the E-scooters were difficult to deal with as they were not cars on the road and were not fast enough to stop on foot. However, the RPSSOs had a different set of skills to be able to deal with them and the Superintendent would look into the statistics and make sure they were available on social media platforms such as Twitter.


§  Councillor Batrouni thanked the Superintendent for all the hard work carried out by Newport police.  Councillor Batrouni mentioned the potential that the amazing work done locally could be undermined by Metropolitan Police, and asked if there were any repercussions arising as a result of this.  Secondly, Cllr Batrouni questioned whether the culture of protection of officers particularly in relation to the accounts of women, being taking advantage of by the police could also happening in Gwent.  The Superintendent advised that the recommendations and actions arising from what happened in the Metropolitan Police demonstrated lessons to be learned, and these  should be embedded regardless of the current position from a Gwent perspective, in order to reassure public confidence.  It was also important to remember that it was an investigation specific to the Met Police .


§  Councillor Marshall referred to the police’s support in tackling online fraud. A few years ago, Councillor Marshall raised concerns about people being scammed through phone and text, not on social media, and asked if the police could also include mail drops to warn against scammers using these other methods. Superintendent Thomas confirmed there had been a recent meeting within the police held by Chief Inspector Davies on how to identify the most vulnerable residents in relation to scammers, and the appropriate response to take action against this.  The Superintendent stated that this requires support from a partnership perspective, and any thoughts on how to collaborate on this would be gratefully received. The Superintendent reflected that whilst social sedia is a great tool for communication there is a risk that some people within the community would be missed from this, therefore any contribution to additional approaches would be welcome.