Agenda item

Safer Arun Partnership scrutiny report

This report provides the latest update information in relation to the performance of the Safer Arun Partnership to allow this committee to carry out its statutory scrutiny function.


          Councillor Bence redeclared his personal interest in this item as a member of West Sussex County Council.


The Community Safety Officer was invited to present the report, which provided the latest update on the performance of the Safer Arun Partnership (SAP) and the results of the residents’ community safety consultation.  The top five issues raised were at the heart of the SAP Plan 2023-2025.    He reported an error in page 17, first line of the report, which should read “…as the main response is unacceptable…’.  Following the consultation the SAP had undertaken a campaign to increase the incidents reported and who to report to so agencies could improve their responses to anti-social behaviour and crime.  The Council’s campaign had been shared with other community safety partnerships in West Sussex and cited as an example of best practice.  Referring to appendix B, he advised in future the SAP partners would provide updates on the work they are doing in relation to the SAP Plan and reported to the Housing and Wellbeing Committee.


          The Chair invited questions and comments from members.  During the discussion comments were made surrounding increases in anti-social behaviour and shoplifting from youths occurring in some  towns and parishes in the District, with examples of recent incidents in Barnham provided.  Concern was raised about the limited responses to such incidents by Sussex Police and the restrictions on action other officers, such as store security staff and community safety officers were able to take and of the limited response received from the West Sussex County Council Community Safety Team.  These youths were becoming increasingly brazen as they were aware the Police often did not attend these incidents. 


A request was made that officers draw the issues raised by members to the attention of Sussex Police in the hope that they would take more effective action and asked officers to keep the Committee informed of the progress of the work being carried out to deal with the issue of anti-social behaviour.  The Community Safety Officer provided details of the amount of work taking place between the multi-agencies to address anti-social behaviour in Barnham and undertook to provide the Committee with a written update on progress outside of the meeting.  The Chair advised that the Arun Safety Partnership was working hard with  Sussex Police and other agencies to deal with this serious situation.


During the remainder of the discussion, details of further antisocial behaviour across the District, including Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, were discussed in particular an increase in shoplifting.  There were reports of shoplifters telling the public they could not refrain them and shop staff told not to engage with shop lifters, take or display photographs of them.  Staff needed to feel safe while working in these shops.  Store or community officers had been observed not taking action when anti-social behaviour was observed and it was asked if there more that could been done to help them protect the public?    Concern was raised that the Arcade, Littlehampton was used as an escape route for drug dealers and it was reported there was a proposal to block one entrance. It was asked if it was the previous owners or the current owners who had asked for CCTV to be installed there?


          The Community Safety Officer responded that the new owners of the Arcade had requested CCTV and was being match funded by the Safer Arun Partnership.  The decision to block one entrance to the Arcade would be taken by West Sussex County Council as it was a public right of way.  Shoplifting was a crime dealt with by the Police whilst anti-social behaviour came under different powers.  Officers could have discussions with Sussex Police in terms of enforcement and members were reminded that the Committee could ask representatives from Sussex Police to attend this Committee to hear how they were resolving these issues and to answer members’ questions.  Community warden powers allowed them to stop and ask for a person’s name and address, but the person could refuse to stop or supply officers with the information.  The community wardens did carry out their powers fully and would call the Police where necessary and provide witness statements if required. 


The Chair informed the Committee about discussions with the Community and Wellbeing Manager to invite Sussex Police  to a meeting of the Housing and Wellbeing Committee to enable members to ask questions about their concerns and ask how the issues will be resolved.  The Chair confirmed that the Community and Well-being Team were taking the issues very seriously.


Comments were made by members that shoplifting incidences had got out of hand and urgent action was needed, with a member suggesting the Police should attend the Committee on a regular basis to be scrutinised.  A member advised that both the public and door security staff had the same common law powers of arrest.  The issues had been going on a long time and despite promises from Sussex Police nothing had improved.  A member advised that representatives from Sussex Police regularly attended all parish meetings.  A member referred to the number of daily observed incidents of drug dealing reported in the Community Safety Consultation (2023) results and asked where the police were who should be dealing with this criminal and increasing activity. 


Responding to members questions, the Community Safety Officer confirmed that parish and town councils in the District had received a press release and an anti-social reporting guide to display.   He explained that the survey had previously been undertaken by West Sussex County Council but was now carried out by each community partnership themselves, with slightly different questions.  Therefore, he confirmed that it would be possible to compare future surveys year on year.  Changes would also be made to the report to make it clearer to read.  If members wanted the results divided into parishes this could be done, but as respondents were only asked to provide the first four digits of their postcode this would need to be done manually.


The Committee noted that:


1.             There are no recommendations put forward with this report.  It is an “information only” paper which provides detail from which the committee   can scrutinise the performance of the Safer Arun Partnership. It should be  noted that SAP is an outside body.


2.             However, when undertaking scrutiny of the Safer Arun Partnership, the committee does have authority to make its own recommendations back to the partnership in relation to any performance and reporting elements it deems appropriate.



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