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Agenda item

Community Safety Partnership Plan Update

Interviews with:


1.  Inspector Mark Hedges, Kent Police and Hema Birdi, Maidstone Early Help Manager, Kent County Council on “Gangs & Work of the Multi-Agency Gangs Group (MAG)”.

2.  Kim Flain of Change, Grow, Live (CGL) on “Substance Misuse & the Links with Homelessness and Substance Misuse”.

3.  Matt Roberts, Community Partnerships & Resilience Manager on “Maidstone Domestic Abuse Forum & the White Ribbon Campaign”.


Inspector Mark Hedges, Kent Police, and Ms Hema Birdi, Kent County Council Early Help Manager, gave a brief presentation.  The presentation outlined the fundamental characteristics of a gang, the effectiveness of Criminal Behaviour Orders in dismantling the MS15 gang and the key aspects of work undertaken by the Multi-Agency Gangs Group (MAG).


The Committee considered the presentation and acknowledged the importance of social media as a tool for information sharing.  Members recognised that proactive work was key to effective prevention, while young parents in particular would benefit from increased information sharing and advice.  The Committee suggested that e-leaflets be made available through school websites to supplement previously distributed hard copies.  To support this, coordinated social media activity would ensure that messages reached the widest possible audience.  Furthermore, Councillors on school governing boards may be able to encourage schools to sign up to relevant campaigns and promote engagement with parents and young people.


The Committee raised concerns about the trends of knife crime, both nationally and locally.  Officers responded that although knife crime had received substantial news coverage, the trends in Maidstone indicated that this had remained static locally.  The impact of outward movement from London to areas such as Maidstone, in relation to knife crime, needed to be considered.  However, partnership working ensured that anti-social behaviour was being identified more effectively.


Ms Kim Flain, from Change, Grow, Live (CGL), addressed the Committee on the subject of substance misuse and the links with homelessness.  Ms Flain outlined the collaborative work that had been undertaken and the positive impact that CGL had made for individuals with substance misuse issues in Maidstone.


Mrs Alison Broom, Maidstone Borough Council Chief Executive, explained to the Committee that funding had been secured up to 2019/20 for project work that was specifically aimed to respond to rough sleeping issues.  Consequently, recruitment was underway to expand the capacity for outreach work.  The focus of this was to support individuals with complex needs to help them move into, and stay in, accommodation.  It was recognised that in the past, challenges had been experienced when securing housing, but that recently the ability to provide accommodation in Maidstone had improved. 


The Committee acknowledged the complexity of working with the service users, as the nature of individual substance misuse impacted upon the support required.  A key consideration of the work was therefore to maximise the effectiveness of the service by striking a balance between the quantity and quality of support available. As the work was designed to develop community resilience, in order to break a cyclical return to substance misuse, the long term success of the work was dependent upon the ability to commit resources over a sustained period of time.  The long-term return on investment, in terms of both economic impact and achieving outcomes for individuals, was expected to be significant.  Consequently, it was recognised that further financial support could be explored with the Kent Drug and Alcohol Partnership Board.


Mr Matt Roberts, Community Partnerships & Resilience Manager, introduced a presentation on Domestic Abuse and The White Ribbon Campaign.  Mr Roberts highlighted the link between large sporting events and violent crime, and explained that occasions such as Christmas were expected to influence a rise in domestic violence.  Mr Roberts explained that it was too soon to assess the impact of the recent White Ribbon Campaign, however, this would be evaluated at a later date.


The Committee acknowledged the effectiveness of recent engagement, which had raised awareness of The White Ribbon Campaign.  Members also commented on the success of using fun activities to deal with serious issues.  It was suggested that engagement with local television companies ahead of Christmas could be pursued. 


Following a question from the Committee, Officers reiterated that violent crime was not solely male to female.  All victims of violent crime, regardless of their age or gender, should be encouraged to report incidents, as this was key to preventing the escalation of issues.


In response to questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that the recent White Ribbon Campaign had focussed on the Town Centre, largely due to the work done alongside establishments that were showing the football World Cup on TV.  However, a mapping exercise to understand the trends of violent crime across the county was underway to ensure that future campaigns were effectively targeted.


Finally, it was highlighted that multi-agency join-up had improved.  One example of this, the Kent Safeguarding Children Board, meant that professionals were able to share knowledge and ensured that conversations regarding domestic violence were regularly taking place.


RESOLVED: That the following recommendations be made to the Safer Maidstone Partnership:


1)  That Officers pursue all available funding avenues with respect to substance misuse, including via the Kent Drug and Alcohol Partnership.


2)  That advice is disseminated widely to parents, with respect to the Parent’s Guide to Gangs and the support available to parents and grandparents, via social media and Councillors.


3)  That specific attention be given to youth crime and violence in the Annual Strategic Assessment, including the impact of placements from London.


4)  To consider delivering a presentation on organised crime at the next Maidstone Borough Council Crime and Disorder Overview and Scrutiny meeting.


5)  To consider advice from Maidstone Borough Council Members and Officers regarding engagement to be undertaken with specific schools.


Voting: Unanimous


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