Agenda item

Police Issues

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


The Mayor was pleased to welcome Superintendent Vicki Townsend to the meeting.


Members were asked to kindly note that this was Superintendent Townsend’s first meeting and she was here today to introduce herself and to set out her policing priorities. They Mayor therefore asked members to confine any questions to any matters arising from her presentation, as opposed to any detailed questions that they may have about specific policing issues in their wards, as Supt Townsend would not be in a position to answer those questions today and they would need to wait until the next Council meeting.


Questions raised by councillors:


§  Councillor Whitehead referred to the use of the off road bikes, near St David’s Hospice, which had been previously reported and was a constant problem as well as being disruptive and upsetting to patients and their family. The Superintendent advised Councillor Whitehead of similar experience when working at Blaenau Gwent and the measures which were put in place to address this.  Supt Townsend attended a meeting recent regarding off road bikes and cars with a review on 27 January.  Any further information was welcomed by the Police by contacting 101 to provide intelligence in order for the Police to build a picture.


§  Councillor Al Nuaimi mentioned partnership funding between the Council and Police in relation to safety to be spent by March 2022 and asked how the money was being spent and what could be expected by the public.  The Superintendent was aware of the Safer Streets initiative and a dedicated Chief Inspector who focussed funding on the identified areas.  The Police were at the procurement stage which meant certain processes and requirements needed to be adhered to however the target of March would be met.


§  Councillor Jeavons referred to the inappropriate use of vehicles on SDR during a Sunday night in particular and a Go Safe was requested to be used to address this and Councillor Jeavons asked if the Superintendent could chase Inspector Cawley on this matter.  Superintendent Townsend assured the councillor that this would be discussed with Insp Cawley.


§  Councillor Harvey mentioned that Inspector Cawley and S Greening were always very helpful with their outstanding work in Always.


§  Councillor Forsey mentioned the new Highway Code which was to be introduced with changes of right of road for walkers and cyclists, with this in mind, what plans would be put in place to make this effective and promote this in Newport.  Supt Townsend advised that the Police were taking a watching brief on when this was legislated with advice from their legal department.  Engagement would be led through ‘Go Safe’ and Ops Planning and would be supportive of those actions but would not take the lead because education was something that was done from the centre of the force. The Supt would update the Council when changes took place.  In addition Councillor Forsey asked did Operation Closed Path take place.  The Superintendent advised that she would look into this and feedback.


§  Councillor Hourahine asked what resources to chase down off-road bikes and quad bikes were being put in place.  Supt Townsend advised that this was a national issue.  There were no tactics for these vehicles because of the safety implications if police tried to stop them, because they were not insured for road use.  Blaenau Gwent had looked at targeting these vehicles when they were being fuelled or repaired, fuelling vehicles at specific addresses.  A safe way therefore needed to be considered to be able to seize and stop the vehicles in a safe way and not chase them as the risk to the individual and the officer could be dangerous.


§  Councillor M Evans asked Supt Townsend to elaborate on sustainability and policing referred to during her introduction and an update on the 101 service. The Superintendent advised that sustainability meant doing things more efficiently.  An example of this was a device/mobile phone which helped upload information in relation to an incident by logging on and send the information to the station rather than having to physically attend the station which was much quicker and enabled officers to go to their next call.  Retrospective facial recognition via CCTV was also used but this was not live use breaching people’s rights.  There were 26 different projects all with a technical aspect to make efficiencies for the front line.  In terms of 101 waiting times were slightly different due to increased demand post covid.  Offer additional methods however to report incidences was via social media, with an allocated social media dealer who would deals with on average six to seven calls rather than 1 call through 101 service by comparison.  Other methods being looked into was virtual responses by the used of  Teams, which meant that members of the public could speak to the police in the comfort of their home rather than visiting the police station.


§  Councillor Suller referred to the confiscation of cars.  The Superintendent advised that this was done via the use of Section 59 seizures.  A centralised road police team focused on anti social behaviour in relation with cars.  Training was involved and a cohort was allocated to Newport, with six officers working 12 hour shifts, mornings and nights.


Councillor Townsend had spoken with taxi drivers about increased racist comments and asked was this being addressed by the police and could they meet with taxi drivers.  Supt Townsend advised she was not aware but would talk to her colleague as Hate crimes were reported and reviewed daily and the Supt would therefore look into this.  Supt Townsend asked Councillor Townsend to send over details.