Councillors responsible for ensuring antisocial behaviour and crime are dealt with properly are not receiving enough information to do their job, a councillor claimed.
Some members of Waltham Forest Council’s communities scrutiny committee complained last night that reports lacked substance, particularly an update on antisocial behaviour that was less than 150 words long.
Cllr Mitchell Goldie (Con, Endlebury) said it is difficult for elected members to scrutinise how council and police resources are used if they are not kept informed.
He found it particularly alarming that Operation 20x20x20, a joint operation between the council and police launched last month, was “news to him”.
He and committee chairwoman Cllr Karen Bellamy (Lab, Higham Hill) also criticised police for not attending the meeting, unaware due to a “communication breakdown” that they were not actually invited.
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Cllr Goldie noted it is “very hard to scrutinise when there’s limited detail” in reports provided to members, such as the three paragraph update on antisocial behaviour since December 2.
He said: “I would personally like to know the success rate of closure orders as there’s a couple in my ward that have gone to court. The details are quite slim.”
Speaking further to the Local Democracy Reporting Service today, he added: “If we are looking at a community safety update and it’s four pages long, I think it’s very hard. Scrutiny meetings and reports are getting thinner and thinner.
“I would like to know how many closure orders are successful because we put taxpayers’ money into making representations to court. I know cases where the council is not very confident it’s going to win, so why waste money taking it forward?”
Regarding Operation 20x20x20, he said the information given to members “does not give any timelines” for the operation, which includes focusing resources in eight crime “hotspots” in the borough.
He added: “That’s quite significant, why was that not included in the report? Residents in the north of the borough already feel like resources are being sucked down south.”
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The operation is titled “20x20x20” to represent the borough’s 20 wards and 20 commitments from police to provide 20 solutions to residents’ key concerns.
Speaking in December, Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Tucker explained he hoped to return to the more local policing he remembered from when he joined the Met 35 years ago.
He said: “We do really well on big events but I want us to be judged on how we deal with the average person’s concerns.
“We lose (people’s) confidence when we do not deal with an allegation of crime properly. We have got to show that we actually listen.
“We might not be able to deal with some of these issues but we should be able to say we have tried.
The operation is currently being piloted in the Leyton and Grove Green wards and will then be expanded to the rest of the borough.
‘Communication breakdown’ about police invite
Cllr Goldie expressed concerns police had not attended the meeting, with chairwoman Cllr Bellamy agreeing their “hit and miss” attendance was “not helpful” to the committee’s work.
However, she explained today that the committee had been operating under the assumption police were invited to every meeting, when in fact they are only invited when needed.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “If my officers are saying police are invited and police are saying they are not then there’s a breakdown somewhere… it happens.”
She added this “communication breakdown” was why she claimed at the meeting that members “are not getting the input from the police that the committee deserves” and that she no longer feels this way.
Responding to concerns raised at last night’s meeting, Superintendent Ian Brown said police have a “strong partnership approach” with the council and a “history of successful joint working”.
He confirmed: “This is not a meeting where we are requested to be present as a standing member as it covers a range of ASB topics.
“However, where topics are relevant to the police or we can add value, we attend upon invite by the participants.”
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