(C Wiggins/STG Neil Ross) To consider the attached report on the work and range of operations of the Council-Funded Police Officers over the last six months.
Please note that SGT Neil Ross will only be able to respond to questions concerning the performance of EFDC Funded Officers at the meeting, rather than respond to general policing questions.
The Directorate Specialist and Community Safety Team Sgt N Ross gave a six-month report on the work and range of operations of the Council’s funded Police team, including a operation synopsis of work carried out in the District.
There had been 20 tasking requests in 2021, to date and the most significant work had been partnership working to respond to a county lines drugs supply in Waltham Abbey. (Details attached in the presentation).
Other highlights included;
· Supporting council officers with joint visits at licenced and business premises highlighted to be committing COVID legislation breaches;
· Supporting Environmental Health with the initial site visit at a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) where there had been a potential threat, harm and risk to staff. The visit had been conducted without incident and the EHO was able to secure sufficient evidence;
· A site visit with Planning Enforcement and Community Resilience at a venue where the occupant presents risk to staff;
· Site visits and representation at professionals meeting in relation to a high-risk homeless person. The Team also conduct the arrest of the same subject for breach of Criminal Behaviour Order;
· The planning and preparation for community policing resources for the local election process. In addition to providing police cover throughout the two additional count days;
· Targeted patrols and activity around three specific locations which were subject to anti-social behaviour and required a medium to long-term problem solving approach, which were still ongoing. This had resulted in arrests, seizures of nuisance vehicles, stop/searches, service of Community Protection Warnings and enforcement of any EFDC-lead orders;
· A report of a fraud in progress (elderly victim, bank cards reported stolen and police send a taxi to collect). The team identified the subjects vehicle and tracked it via ANPR to the M11. Appropriate tactics were put in place to prevent a pursuit and the funded officers arrested the offender. The investigation was still ongoing but this was a significant and rare arrest to catch an offender at a live fraud;
· Two arrests following a pursuit with cloned vehicle which was found decamped in Buckhurst Hill. The two men who were linked to organised crime were stopped nearby and the police dog located car key and illegal cloning equipment nearby;
· Following an attempted burglary in Loughton the subject made off in a van which then made off from officers. The funded team officers located the offender hiding in bushes and arrested him. He was charged and remanded for burglary offences; and
· Following a series of distraction thefts in the district whereby victims had their Rolex watches stolen, the team reviewed CCTV and identified the offender’s vehicle. By chance two suspects were sighted, that matched the description parked on Epping High Street paying close attention to pedestrians. The team made the arrest of both suspects, who remain under investigation at time of writing.
The Committee asked the following question;
· What was a closure order and can they be applied to both Council and private properties? Stg Ross advised that they can be apply to any property which prevents only the named person(s) entering the property excluding emergency services and council staff. The Directorate Specialist advised that a closure order was a really power and important tool in preventing crime and disorder in properties in the district. There were also weekly partnership meetings with the Neighbourhood Housing Teams which allowed any issues to be flagged earlier.
· What were the sanctions for the youth offenders mentioned in the presentation? The Directorate Specialist advised that officers had to be mindful, that some young people may be victims as well as perpetrators that have been exploited and forced in this position. Stg Ross advised that sanctions depended on the mitigating circumstances.
· Were there any other areas of concern in the District? And was there or plans for a Community Policing Panel in the District? Stg Ross advised that there other areas in the district but the example provided in the presentation showed how the partnership working functioned well. The Directorate Specialist advised that she would enquire with the Insp T Mitchell, the Community Policing Team with regards to the a Community Policing Panel for Epping Forest.*
· Had any of the Closures Orders been refused? Stg Ross advised that the team had never had any refused. The Directorate Specialist advised that the EFDC Policing Team’s work had been flagged up as best practice in Essex.
· Why could the gangs who used Cuckooing not be stopped? And was it possible to trace back the drugs to the original source? The Directorate Specialist advised that due to covid there had been a massive backlog in courts, for offenders on remand as well as achieving courts date for closure orders. Stg Ross advised that loads of work went on to get up stream in the drugs trade, which happened at all levels.
· Was there a way of anonymously reporting information to the Police? Stg Ross advised that information could be submitted online, by phone or text to Crimestoppers as well as using the QR code (attached in the presentation).
· How many Police officers were within the Team and in the Community Resilience Neighbourhood Team? The Directorate Specialist advised that there 3 fully funded Police officers within the Community Safety Team with a fourth position out for recruitment. There were three ASB officers and 5 Environmental Enforcement Officers with one vacancy.
The Community & Regulatory Services Portfolio Holder commented on the partnership working of the EFDC Community Safety Team and EFDC funded Police and successes.
The Housing Services Portfolio Holder commented on the added value the services provided for the District and the push to try and achieve a Police presences within the Community Hub in the Civic Offices.
That the Committee noted the 6 monthly update.
* Response from Inspector Tom Mitchell received following the meeting.
‘We are moving away from coffee with cops and police lead engagement and instead trying to attend/piggy back engagement events that are already in existence e.g. a coffee morning, xmas market or something that your team arrange, such as ASB Awareness events.
The reasons are we weren't getting many people coming to coffee with cops and if operationally we can't attend then we aren't letting people down or disappointing them as much as they were going to the event anyway rather than a specific visit to meet officers
The plan is to move towards more engagement as we enter the Covid Recovery Period.’