The report of the Director of Central Services provided an update on the work of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP), which was reviewed and noted by the Panel.
The Licensing and Community Safety Manager (A Garnett) reminded Members that the Community Safety Unit (CSU) worked closely with Kent Police and were co-located at the Council offices at Kings Hill. There were weekly meetings with other organisations, such as housing providers and the Probation Service, to discuss issues and formulate actions.
Particular reference was made to the measures being taken to tackle anti-social behaviour in West Malling. As well as trying to identify those causing the issues Kent Police had put in place some Dispersal Orders, which had been very effective. Residents were appreciative of the action taken and the CSU were grateful to Kent Police for executing these measures.
It was anticipated that the vacant post of Anti-social Behaviour Officer would be filled by December.
Operation Valetta, which had taken place on 20 July, was a joint initiative between Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Services targeting drivers committing offences. During this operation a total of 75 cars were stopped in Cannon Lane, Tonbridge and London Road, Hildenborough. As well as enforcement action, where appropriate, restorative justice was offered.
Finally, Members were advised that an Independent Police Advisory Group (IPAG) had been established for Tonbridge and Malling. The Group were looking for members to represent sections of the community to attend. Further information was available from firstname.lastname@example.org
Kent Police and the Licensing and Community Safety Manager both participated in a brief question and answer session.
In response to a question from Burham Parish Council, it was confirmed that S59 granted powers under the Police Reform Act and applied to both driver and vehicles. This meant that vehicles being used anti-socially or driven without due care and attention and where there was a repeat occurrence within 12 months could be seized.
Members commented that Operation Valletta appeared to be an excellent initiative and should be continued or repeated on a regular basis. Inspector Ginsberg recognised the Operation’s success and hoped that it could be repeated at different locations throughout the Borough but it was subject to having sufficient resource available. It was noted that PCSOs could monitor speed and pass on information to police.
Borough Green Parish Council referred to significant speeding problems on the A25 and the difficulties they had with Kent Police and/or other agencies taking any sensible actions. Inspector Ginsberg advised that PCSOs regularly monitored the situation and offered to clarify the latest position out of meeting.
Another member of Borough Green Parish Council referred to the two CCTV cameras purchased in a joint venture with Kent Police and asked about the location of one that been moved. This would be progressed out of meeting.
In response to a question regarding the use of cannabis, it was confirmed that this remained illegal but it was difficult to get a magistrates warrant without proper corroboration of the offence. Corroboration included intelligence gathering and reporting by more than one person.
Finally, surprise was expressed at the low number of drivers stopped for using a mobile phone during Operation Valletta given the high profile it received in the media. Reference was also made to the recent use of social media to obtain drugs. This information would be shared with Kent Police out of meeting.
The Chairman thanked both Kent Police and the Licensing and Community Safety Manager for their contribution and advised that in future both of these items would be combined on the agenda.