30 minutes is allocated for questions to the Gwent Police representative.
The Chief Superintendent Tom Harding and Superintendent Mike Richards were in attendance and provided an update on current local policing priorities, before inviting questions from Members.
The Mayor invited the Leader to say a few words.
The Leader was delighted to hear about the safer streets funding partnership recently put in pace and congratulated Insp Cantwell and Insp George on their PCC award for partnership working.
The Leader went on to mention that the city centre was experiencing and increase in offensive materials being posted around the city centre along with fly posting in relation to transgender people and was seeking assurance that the matter would be dealt with by the police. Chief Supt Harding assured the Leader that every single hate crime reported to police was looked into every morning and passed on to a trained officer who dealt with the incident accordingly and encouraged residents to report any incident as it was being taken seriously. Supt Richards also mentioned that the police had a transgender member of staff in place to address any issues appropriately.
The Leader had raised at the previous meeting the challenges raised in Malpas and was pleased to see that the police had increased their presence around St David’s Hospice. The Leader was also delighted to hear that a moped had been impounded and that residents’ concerns raised in relation to anti-social behaviour were also being addressed.
The Leader asked what assurances to residents on anti-social behaviour the police could provide and how to report this, as residents were often reluctant to contact police. Supt Richards assured the Leader that the police would be as responsive to these issues as possible to ensure that communities reported these incidents.
The Leader asked for clarification regarding the relationship that councillors had with the Inspector and whether elected members were entitled to monthly meetings with the Inspector. Supt Richards assured the Leader that it was to be expected that there was a good working relationship with councillors. In addition, there would be a new Inspector for Newport West by the end of the week, as there was a gap for a couple of weeks and Supt Richards apologised for this. Supt Richards would re-enforce the importance of regular meetings with councillors.
The Leader also raised the issue of members’ personal security in the light of recent terrorist threats and the killing of Sir David Amess. The Leader had received support from Gwent police regarding a recent harassment issue but was disappointed that there was some disparity between the level of contact between police forces across Wales and Council Leaders. In some authorities, Leaders were contacted directly by the police but this had not happened in Gwent and the Leader would have appreciated some assurance by the police. Chief Supt Harding apologised that the Leader felt her safety was not taken seriously. The Chief Supt had emailed the Chief Executive within three hours of the incident taking place and assured the Leader that support to any Councillors who were in a similar position would be provided by the police and was happy to circulate a copy of the email to the Leader. If councillors wanted the contact information this would be facilitated by the Chief Superintendent.
§ Councillor Harvey referred to a recent incident where a victim of domestic abuse dialled 999 at midnight and was not seen until 5am when it was light and felt that this was not acceptable and that the police should have come sooner. The estate had seen a recent murder and antisocial behaviour. In addition, properties were being targeted by a passer-by dropping a peg on a property as a marker for burglary. Supt Richards apologised about the recent 999 incident and assured the councillor that it would be raised with their control room. Supt Richards also thanked the councillor for the heads up on the burglaries and would raise this as a matter of priority with Insp Cawley.
§ Councillor Jeavons confirmed that Insp Cawley met monthly with ward councillors and recently updated the councillor with regard to the joy riders on the SDR on a Sunday night. The Councillor however requested that this be escalated as it was still taking place and was a serious disturbance for residents. This happened during the early hours of the morning where drivers around the Lysachts Institute would stop and start at the traffic lights. Councillor Jeavons also requested the use of the ‘Go Safe’ van during these times. The Superintendent agreed to pursue the request of a Go Safe van to address this.
The Mayor confirmed that the allotted 30 minutes was up and that there was no time for any further questions.
Councillor Fouweather raised a point of order and asked the Mayor if it was fair that councillors did not have time to address their issues due to the questions put to the Chief Superintendent by the Leader.
Monitoring Officer advised that the 30 minutes were up for the Police Questions and that, if members were concerned about the adequacy of the time allocated for this item, then that was a debate for another time.
Councillor Routley raised a point of order and requested that they Mayor suspend Standing Orders to continue with the Police Questions.
The Monitoring Officer advised that it was not within the power of the Mayor to suspend Standing Orders to extend the question time, as that was a decision for the Council. Members could however move a procedural motion and put it to a vote whether to suspend the Standing Orders and extend the time for Police Questions. It was a matter of custom and practice that the Leader, had always been invited to speak and ask questions first.
Councillor M Evans mentioned that this custom and practice for the Leader to speak first was a recent decision. When Councillor Evans was Leader until 2012, this had not been the case.
The Monitoring Officer explained the process again. The Monitoring Officer confirmed that the Council would need to move a motion to suspend standing orders and extend the time for Police Questions. It would then be debated and voted upon.
In light of the above, the Mayor asked would someone like to propose a vote to suspend Standing Orders and extend the time. Councillor Mogford proposed the motion and Councillor Routley seconded the proposal.
Councillor Hourahine requested on another point of order that it was unreasonable to ask the police officers to remain to debate an internal matter for the Council. If the Council was to decide in due course that a longer period of time was required for police questions this would be up to the officers. The Councillor felt that it was unreasonable that the police officers stay whilst the discussion was taking place as they may have other priorities to consider.
Councillor Whitehead suggested that whilst it was unfortunate that other councillors did not have the opportunity to speak and that this could be raised again, the discussion was diverting from the council meeting and taking up the time of the police officers.
Councillor Fouweather suggested that as time was moving on that the police leave but expressed his opinion as previously that councillors should be allowed to question the police rather than the Leader having precedence.
The Monitoring Officer asked that the Mayor close the debate and either put the matter to a vote or close the police questions.
Councillor Routley withdrew his motion at this juncture, and it was agreed that the police questions end and that the police leave the meeting.