Members to receive a report highlighting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the budget position, funding and delivery of operational policing and community safety.
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) submitted a report to highlight the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the budget position, funding and delivery of operational policing and community safety over the past 12 months.
Lord Bach introduced the report drawing attention to the enormous amount of work that had gone on since March 2020, including supportive work by OPCC of police work around Covid 19, the impact on policing demand and the provision of additional resources i.e. to address increases in domestic abuse crime and provide additional support for victims during this period.
The Chief Constable addressed the panel on the impact on policing demand and the policing response noting that the Covid situation was still ongoing.
Members also noted that:
· There had been more than 25,000 Covid-19 related incidents to date, averaging 489 incidents per week contributing to a 13% increase in total priority response incidents between March 20 to March 21. In terms of police enforcement, this had been targeted to areas of high reports or community concern and so far, 2870 tickets had been issued, with 80% of those since Christmas in this latest lockdown.
· In terms of impact on crime, initially overall crime levels had dropped but during lockdown domestic abuse had risen and was an issue, with a typical 56 domestic abuse reports being received every day, that did however vary in peak periods. The force had taken a partnership approach to safeguarding highest risk domestic abuse victims with specialist officers and a team of investigators ensuring all cases are categorised for risk too.
· In relation to supporting officers and staff, over 2 million items of PPE had been issued to secure working practices and regular testing was available, however, there was frustration that police officers were not prioritised in the vaccination programme.
The Chair invited Members of the panel to ask questions:
Members raised concerns about the long term lasting effects of the pandemic, its impacts upon the mental health of people, in particular young people, as well as the long term effect of domestic abuse in families. In terms of whether there were appropriate resources to tackle such issues it was advised that there were already systems for referrals of young people through schools and police were doing a lot more work now that schools had reopened to engage with young people, as well as other work around the impact of domestic abuse on young people and the wider effect of mental health on offending. Members were assured there was a shared triage of resources that could be deployed to assess, inform, and support police in handling such situations.
It was noted that the police were planning for potential increases on police demands as lockdown measures eased, including the return of policing the night time economy, the return of significant sporting events and the return to high volumes of students in the area for the next academic year.
Members of the panel acknowledged the disruption that had also been caused to police, staff and their families during the pandemic as they too would have been affected and thanked the police for positively responding to the situation and being available despite being at risk themselves.
That the contents of the report noted.