Feeling safer? Tell it to Rod

Safer York web site is still out of date

The York Council is reviewing the effectiveness of its “Safer York” partner at a meeting next week. A biannual report has been tabled

Anyone wondering what the safer York Partnership does will no doubt head for the Councils web site., It has a page with 8 lines devoted to the organisation https://www.york.gov.uk/info/20152/community_safety/1361/safer_york_partnership

The web site provides a hot link to the partnerships own web site.  http://www.saferyorkpartnership.co.uk/

Anyone following this link may be disappointed to find that the site hasn’t been updated for 2 years!

So, back to the report on its activities.

Councillors will be told that “due to changes in the way police data is supplied to local authorities and the introduction of tighter data access control, CYC no longer routinely receives data recorded by the Police”!

Key priorities are identified as

  • Road & River Safety
  • Keeping the City Centre
  • Protecting People from Harm
  • Tackling Anti-social Behaviour
  • Serious Organised Crime
  • Tackling Substance Misuse Public Health

The report does, however, go on to report some good news.

Our surveys reveal that anti-social behaviour remains one of the key concerns with the rise of the “moped gang” spotlighted by many respondents.

The SYP report concentrates on the York city centre. It says, “Although there remains a perception that alcohol related anti-social behaviour has increased, there was a 14% reduction between 2016 and 2017 and an 11% reduction between 2017 and 2018. Much of the behaviour which is highlighted in media reports is low level nuisance rather than criminal and this is addressed through high visibility patrols by the police, BID Rangers and CYC Neighbourhood Enforcement Team”.

The report says, “There has been an increase in the number of needles found in public areas within the city centre”.

One unexpected note of caution is sounded, on the subject of buskers.

“The Neighbourhood Enforcement team have planned Saturday afternoon joint patrols with Make It York with the purpose of engaging with all buskers in the city centre and to ask them not to hand their microphones to members of the public.

All buskers will be provided with a laminated card they can show the public which states that they are not permitted by CYC or MIY to hand over their microphone in the interest of reducing noise nuisance and ASB”.

Unfortunately the crime stats reported  are not up to date

So who really is responsible for the decline in crime prevention in York?

Many residents are becoming frustrated with the decline in public order in the City.

But not so good news later in the week when there were outbreaks of vandalism and graffiti not seen for soem time. The Police and crime Commissioner started an "on line" survey asking residents for their policing priorities.

Recent vandalism reports

While some may put the change down to the “yobfest” culture surrounding the Brexit vote, in reality it is more the lack of high profile policing on our streets that is to blame for the petty crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour we are seeing. So, where does responsibility for community safety lie?

Home Secretary

Currently Amber Rudd MP. Has overall responsibility for policing in the UK. Sets government grant levels and some police conditions (but not local policing priorities)

Police and Crime Commissioner for York and North Yorkshire

Currently Julia Mulligan. A Tory politician directly (re) elected a few months ago, albeit against some pretty poor quality opponents and on a very low turnout. She says she is accountable for “how crime and community safety is tackled throughout the county of North Yorkshire and the City of York”. Currently consulting on a new “Policing Plan” Click here Has a complicated web site but seems to have realised recently that only the use of social media could actually engage people across as large an area as North Yorkshire. Has been criticised for fronting high profile national campaigns – on worthy but minority issues – at the expense of core concerns like neighbourhood crime. Markedly “rural” in her priorities largely ignoring York (which suffers over 30% of reported crime). She recently appointed a Deputy which will significantly increase the expenditure of the PCCs office.

Police and Crime Panel
Vandalism on Chesney's Field

Vandalism on Chesney’s Field

Holds the Commissioner “to account”. Comprised mostly of Tory Councillors. Is supposed to meet in public but you’d be hard pressed to find an evidence that it proactively advertises its meetings (or other activities for that matter). Mainly deals with complaints about the PCC but nods through policing plans, appointments and taxation level proposals The meetings are listed by the County Council web site (click) but not by the City of York Council The last panel meeting did receive a report on reducing Crime and ASB.

Chief Constable

Dave Jones was appointed Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police on 3 June 2013. Has a low profile in York (compared to his predecessor)? Is responsible for deployment of resources and police tactics. Has been criticised for the decision to centralise Anti-Social Behaviour work into the West Offices in York. Ultimately it would be his call whether to reintroduce “community constable” type systems which were very effective in the last decade.

Neighbourhood Policing Teams

Crime increasing, communications reducing

In the past local police and PCSOs have formed part of neighbourhood teams. They regularly used to meet with Ward Councillors, resident’s groups and other agency partners. They do have social media access with the York West team “tweeting” quite regularly (@snayorkwest) Confusingly the neighbourhood policing team for Westfield Ward is now called York South. There are no named officers specialising in the Ward (or any other ward for that matter) although the City centre alcohol economy is clearly a drain on resources.  https://northyorkshire.police.uk/neighbourhoods/york-city-south/  There are no events publicised as taking place in this area. The police used to have surgeries on a regular basis. Now we get the occasional “dot peen” property marking visit. Street level visibility – even for PCSOs – has reduced in recent years

Safer York Partnership

Community Safety Partnerships were formed because of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. Safer York Partnership says it “provides both the strategic direction for community safety and local delivery of community safety outcomes across the city of York. Safer York Partnership has representatives from key voluntary and statutory agencies including City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, Probation, Public Health and York CVS”

The last “news” on their web site is dated July 2016. Not to be confused with a similar, but even more outdated, web site of a similar name http://www.saferyork.org.uk/

The group meet every three months and their minutes are published on the York Council’s web site click However the meetings are not open to the public, while agendas and supporting papers (e.g. performance reports) are not published.

York Council Executive member with responsibility for “Community Safety”

The York Council’s web site tells us that Cllr David Carr has responsibility for “Alcohol and Drugs Action; Housing; Fraud ; Safer Neighbourhoods; Police liaison; Anti-Social Behaviour; Licensing Enforcement and Licensing Policy, Community Cohesion and Prevent, plus Emergency Planning”.

Sadly, there is little evidence that he has had any impact in any of these policy areas.  Indeed, after 18 months in post, he has yet to hold his first “decision meeting” and there is no record of any action taken to check service standards in the suburban areas or even to talk with local communities about their concerns.