Date: Friday 31 March 2023, 10:00 am
Chair: John Campion
Minutes: Charity Pearce, Policy Officer, OPCC
Venue West Mercia Police HQ
- John Campion Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
- Marc Bayliss Deputy PCC (DPCC)
- Nicola Lowery Assistant PCC (APCC)
- Chris Jensen Senior Policy and Partnerships Officer (SPPO)
- Charity Pearce Policy Officer (PO)
- Pippa Mills Chief Constable (CC)
- Richard Cooper Assistant Chief Constable Crime & Vulnerability (RC)
1. Outstanding Matters/Matters arising
2. Holding to account – Independent Inquiry into Telford Child Sexual Exploitation (IITCSE)
Prior to the meeting the CC provided the PCC with a report providing an overview of progress against the recommendations set out in the IITCSE review. It set out activity taken and underway to implement the 13 recommendations relevant to West Mercia Police.
Putting victims and survivors first
To support the meeting the PCC provided a victim case study of a 15-year-old victim of CSE who was dissatisfied with how the system had treated her which had impacted her mental health and wellbeing. The CC indicated that she wanted to better understand her case to reassure herself of the force response as there were significant concerns raised if male officers were seeing juvenile victims without an appropriate adult present. The PCC said he would check and follow up outside of the meeting.
ACTION: For PCC to follow up and provide details of case study in light of CC procedural concerns
The PCC expressed his gratitude to the force for the briefing note provided to support the meeting.
The PCC asked what more WMP could do to put victims at the heart of everything it does. The CC said it’s the constant and consistent delivery of training that includes the victim’s voice. Thinking of new and innovative ways to capture the attention of the workforce and ensure victims are at the forefront of any response.
The PCC asked how engagement with the workforce is influenced by the lived experience. The CC and ACC said that work is underway to ensure quantitative evidence is available but focus is on the qualitative element which will bring out the detail. Chief Officers are currently working through a new approach for setting objectives and key results at a senior level then this will cascade through the organisation as part of the PDR process. The PCC was interested in the impact of this in the future.
The PCC was pleased to see that the force is looking to establish a lived experience group. He asked if the CC was satisfied that once established, there are clear plans in place to ensure feedback is cascaded throughout the organisation. The ACC clarified that the force accesses a lived experience group initiated by the Local Authority but the force also learns from its RASSO scrutiny panel, and is establishing a VAWG advisory group. More work is being done through surveys to understand current victim feedback. The CC said that the shift in offending online would help pull in wider experience not seen when the review was initially undertaken. It is hoped that this is set up and in place by the end of Q1/Q2 23/23.
In her role as a systems leader, the PCC wanted to understand what more the CC thought could be done to support victims of CSE throughout their CJS journey. ACC Cooper said that by providing improved training and awareness to officers, this will be supported by the Children’s Society. Relationships are in place at a strategic level with the CPS for RASSO offences. These cases are investigated by specialist officers, building in professional environment so victims are taken seriously.
IITCSE Executive Summary
Data shows that CSE is still prevalent across Telford, the PCC asked the CC to provide her assessment of what more police and partners should be doing to tackle the issues. The CC said that IITCSE report was published in July 2022 but the force had been involved in a peer review prior to this so was aware with action already underway to support the recommendations. The partnership structure took some time to implement but the CC is reassured that this was needed, and ACC oversight in place. Activity has been ongoing, but further work was needed to ensure this could be appropriately evidenced.
The PCC sought reassurance that the IITCSE report was seen as a high priority across the force and whether this was reflected in the force’s action plan. The CC said that the action plan is focussed West Mercia wide. Much of the activity is centred around Telford to meet the recommendations but she is reassured of the organisational structure in the force to roll processes out where gaps are identified.
The PCC sought to understand the CC’s strategic assessment of the overall response and improvements to CSE. The CC said that the analysis to inform strategic focus and form the required annual report will be brought up to date at the end of the financial quarter. There is more work to be done around the performance data to support activity.
Recommendation 1 was for the force to work with Telford Council to establish a joint CSE review group with other key partners. This has recently been established. The DPCC asked how effective it has been in implementing the recommendations and demonstrating to the public that sufficient progress has been made by police and partners. The CC said that the report was not only significant to the force but also to partnerships. She was reassured that conversations with partners showed a system wide focus to close and fulfil recommendations.
The DPCC acknowledged that it took 7 months to establish the group with only one meeting taking place. The CC was confident and assured that the perceived delay was to ensure the meeting was effective from the outset, referencing the ToR and minutes of the first meeting included as appendices in the force report. The recommendation requires them to meet once every 6 months. The ACC clarified that the review group had a specific role to identify gaps in data and increase shared understanding of the threat.
The DPCC asked the CC if she was satisfied the Joint working group had the appropriate level of attendance from the force. The CC said she was satisfied with the attendance. The performance team were represented on the review group whilst the overarching more strategic meeting was attended by the Telford command team. The CC referenced the positive feedback she had received from the Councils Chief Executive in relation to the force engagement.
The DPCC asked what outcomes have been achieved by the working group so far. The CC referenced the appendices included in the force report and said there is a clear plan to publish the annual report in June in line with the recommendation, utilising an updated version of the analytical report that has already been produced.
Recommendation 6 related to information sharing and safeguarding. The briefing note highlighted that the force is currently reviewing/taking stock of which officers have completed the CSE training. The PCC asked if she was reassured with the progress to date to ensure the force is compliant with the recommendation. ACC Cooper said he was. The CSE delivery plan was already in place following the previous peer review. He would like to see with strategic oversight, additional rigour around progress that ensures the force can comprehensively demonstrate that the necessary work has taken place.
The PCC clarified whether this was impacted by HR systems in place. The CC said it wasn’t but that the force had an overall ambition to streamline the many systems to ensure greater clarity and oversight. The force plan for the review of training to be fully complete in the summer, 1 year after the review was published.
Recommendation 8 relates to the current resource allocated to Child Exploitation in Telford. The PCC asked if the CC was satisfied that the force has the right level of resource to tackle CSE in Telford. The CC said the recent discussions around force budget reinforced the shared commitment with the PCC to ensure appropriate resources to tackle CSE in Telford, and the wider West Mercia.
The PCC sought reassurance that the team dedicates the appropriate amount of effort on CSE compared to criminal exploitation.
The PCC sought reassurance that the force has the right performance data to inform activity. The CC said that CSE was not a defined single crime type and was identified by the application of a marker on the Athena crime recording system instead. The challenge remained around ensuring steps are in place to improve the awareness of applying the flag.
The PCC asked what needed to be done once audits are correctly applied. The CC said that the Incident Management Unit audit crimes to ensure correct marker applications so was reassured that they are being undertaken but not sure of performance data/reports that feed through. The ACC said the force would need to conduct qualitative audits rather than being able to use existing quantitative data such as detection rates.
The PCC asked for a timescale for better articulation of the issue and the qualitative response on harm experienced. The CC said that the performance team are undertaking a review to identify priority data areas. CSE is a priority and feeds into existing governance groups but having more data to base judgments on would be beneficial. If it will be delivered it will be done in the next 12 months
ACTION: CC to provide update on WMP performance product prioritisation.
Recommendation 29 relates to reviewing joint taxi licensing enforcement to ensure it is sufficiently regular and rigorous. The PCC asked for the CC’s assessment of the effectiveness of work undertaken in the current financial year with the licenced taxi trade in Telford, to disrupt and build intelligence around CSE. The CC said that due to staff issues in the council some joint enforcement activity had been delayed but she was reassured of the activity completed and planned in the future. The CC expects the WMP problem-solving hubs in all localities to liaise with the taxi licensing team in the respective councils.
The PCC asked what more the CC thought he could do to support the force’s work to tackle CSE through existing partnership structures and his grant scheme. ACC Cooper has a quarterly meeting with the PCC’s Head of Policy and Commissioning to consider IITCSE matters, and the CC is reassured that these conversations are taking place.
Recommendation 31 is about the council engaging with the force to ensure information collected is shared regarding restaurant and takeaway establishments. The briefing note set out that some training was being undertaken on the local authority database, the PCC sought clarification as to who the training was for and whether it was now complete. The training was due to be completed on the 31st of March, with the CC providing assurance that this was done.
ACTION: ACC Cooper to find out if database training was complete for all relevant officers and provide an update.
The PCC asked whether this work was being evaluated and rolled out across the remaining policing areas. The CC said that there were different arrangements across the local authorities in West Mercia. The oversight arrangements in place in the problem-solving hub would have oversight of this and roll out if required.
The PCC asked if the CC was satisfied that trading standards had information sharing and data protection safeguards in place. The CC was assured that the systems were in place to ensure the necessary information sharing process would be followed.
Recommendation 36 sets out that the force should review the use of the intelligence marker system in CSE cases. The PCC asked what more can the force do to immediately improve CSE recording. The CC
was reassured that processes were in place to audit data; the focus is on ensuring it is included as part of initial training when the crime is initially recorded.
The PCC highlighted that CSE doesn’t have the oversight at strategic performance meetings. He sought reassurance that other processes in place to ensure it has the appropriate oversight. The CC and ACC said that:
- The Strategic Vulnerability Delivery Board looks at qualitative performance and seeks to roll out learning and good practice.
- CSE is an area of focus at other forums such as Force Tasking and incorporated into the SOC profiles.
- Offences against children is a priority on the force control strategy and this will ensure regular and scheduled work for the priority areas.
- CSE is not a specific crime type so general performance scrutiny will include elements of various crimes.
Recommendation 37 sets out that the force should ensure officers are trained as part of their initial induction and regularly refreshed. The PCC asked if the CC was reassured that staff are equipped with skills as set out in the recommendation. The CC referred to the extensive training outlined in the briefing document.
Recommendation 39 relates to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) ensuring the force liaise with partners around reporting protocols and review training in place for officers. The PCC asked what more the force could be doing to liaise with partners and improve referrals given that only 1% come from immigration.
The CC said that awareness training exists to ensure people understand the process. The NRM changes on a frequent basis so it’s important to refresh that training. Reporting organisations should be holding strategy discussions before making referrals in to ensure good quality referrals. The CC said there was good engagement as a senior level with the Immigration service, with their attendance at the regional chief officer meeting which she chairs.
The PCC asked if the Chief was reassured that the force is as transparent with its action to tackle CSE as it could be with communities in Telford to build trust and confidence in the police response to this issue. The CC was reassured that the Stephen Yaxley-Lennon visits to Telford to launch the first 4 ‘Rape Of Britain’ videos last year helped to galvanise the focus of communities and partners on CSE and provided the opportunity to engage.
The PCC acknowledged this was the case but sought additional clarity that wider public are being reassured of the response to the IITCSE recommendations and outcomes from it. The CC said that publishing sentencing outcomes is reassuring alongside SNT engagement.
The PCC asked if there was a challenge around educating the public of what CSE is. The ACC believed some members of the public have a simplistic understanding of what is a complex issue within the community. Ongoing piece of work to ensure capacity is built into the corporate comms team to focus on offences against children.
The PCC highlighted the victim blaming culture of some people in society. The CC recognised this and referenced jury members being educated on what consent is at the commencement of rape trials and the need to improve convictions for these crimes.
The PCC asked that once completed would the CSE profile be published and shared with partners to ensure a holistic approach to protecting victims from harm. The CC said it would be but it’s about understanding how useful it is. Partners often want data to a low level, but the problem profile will be a strategic document for the whole of West Mercia.
The PCC provided the CC the opportunity to highlight anything else within the report.
4. Confirmation of next meeting type/date/time/venue: