Panel endorses Police precept proposal

A proposal to increase the precept payable for policing in Merseyside was “reluctantly” endorsed by the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel at their meeting on Tuesday 6th February.

The panel, which is made up of councillors from all Merseyside local authorities, has a statutory obligation to review the Commissioner’s Police Precept Proposal each year.

Having considered the evidence presented by the Commissioner, the Deputy Chief Constable and their support staff, the panel reluctantly agreed unanimously to endorse the Commissioner’s proposal for a 7.23% increase in the precept. However, in doing so, the panel asked that a number of recommendations/ comments be placed on record and brought to the Commissioner’s attention.

Cllr Carla Thomas, Chairperson of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel, said:

“We endorsed this rise extremely reluctantly, because we recognise that the only alternative would be for resources within Merseyside Police to be reduced even further . This would have an extremely detrimental impact on the level of service being provided to the community.

“The panel very much felt that the Commissioner was left with no alternative but to request this increase, due to the woeful shortfalls in Government funding for the police.

“However we were also in unanimous agreement that, whilst this rise does represent the only option currently available to prevent further reduction in officer numbers, it highlights how inequitable the current system is. By relying on council tax precepts to plug gaps in funding for policing, those who struggle already with their monthly outgoings – of which their Council Tax bill is a significant part – are hit the hardest.

“In reluctantly endorsing this increase we’d also urge the Government to urgently reconsider their approach to police funding and how shortfalls are impacting on both service provision and on the wallets of those least able to afford to pay.”

 You can read the Police and Crime Panel’s formal response here.

International Restorative Justice Week

 

International Restorative Justice Week, 20th 27th November 2016, aims to promote the potential benefits and advantages of taking part in Restorative Justice or (RJ).

Restorative Justice allows everyone involved in an offence, whether offender or victim, to come together to deal with the aftermath of that offence and its future implications.  This can happen with a face-to-face meeting or with an exchange of letters or messages through a facilitator. If both parties are willing to meet and the person who committed the crime is willing to make amends for what they have done, then a trained facilitator will arrange a meeting.

Victims often want to understand why the crime has happened to them, and to be involved in what happens to the person who committed it.  They may want to be sure they will not be harmed by that person again, to ask them questions about the crime and to explain face-to-face just what effect the crime has had on their life.

The Restorative Justice Process gives the person who committed the crime the chance to understand the real consequences of their actions. They have the chance not just to say sorry and feel sorry but to do something positive to repair some of the harm that has been done.  This can help a person to build a new life free from crime, and would prevent further victims being created by their actions.

Research done on the effectiveness of Restorative Justice has shown that it is an extremely helpful process for both the perpetrators and the victims of crime, with 85% of victims saying they felt better about their situation after going through the process of Restorative Justice.  The work is done through a partnership of Probation, Police, Prisons, Victim Support and other agencies.

Here on Merseyside, the Police Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, works with the Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), to offer RJ to victims across the region.

To find out more please visit the Merseyside CRC website or take a look at this leaflet which will explain more.

 

Plans for new Merseyside Police Headquarters unveiled

The PCC has today unveiled plans for a new headquarters for Mersey Police on a key gateway into Liverpool.

Following a year-long evaluation of all the options, Jane Kennedy’s preferred choice for the future of Merseyside Police headquarters is to develop a new purpose-built headquarters on a site on Scotland Road in Everton ward.

Even by conservative estimates, building a new headquarters will be £780,000 cheaper than refurbishing the existing police headquarters in Canning Place. A more efficient and environmentally-friendly new build headquarters will also be £380,000 a year cheaper to run and maintain, helping the organisation to save £15.5m compared to the cost of keeping Canning Place over the next 40 years.

The new headquarters will consist of a four-storey building with a single-storey annex, housing nearly 850 officers, PCSOs, and staff in largely open-plan offices, as well as providing meeting rooms, a lecture theatre and break-out spaces. It will be located on a predominantly brownfield site, largely owned by Liverpool City Council and bound by Scotland Road, St Anne Street and the approach road to the Queensway tunnel. It is also adjacent to the Force’s existing St Anne Street site.

Jane said: “It has been a complex and thorough process to get to the position where I can make this decision today. Extensive evaluations have been undertaken which confirm that building a new headquarters on Scotland Road is the most effective, efficient and economical way to ensure that Merseyside Police is able to tackle crime and protect our communities now and for years to come.”

Take a look at the full details here:
http://www.merseysidepcc.info/36/section.aspx/35/plans_for_new_merseyside_police_headquarters_unveiled

PCC launches new service to improve care for vulnerable adults in police custody

Vulnerable adults in Merseyside will be given improved care when they are detained in police custody thanks to a new scheme commissioned by the region’s Police Commissioner.

Jane Kennedy stepped in after being made aware by Merseyside Police about the delays in obtaining Appropriate Adults to support people with learning disabilities, those in mental ill health or those who present as particularly vulnerable and who are being held in police cells.

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which regulates the actions of the police service, Appropriate Adults are required when vulnerable detainees are being booked into custody and also when they are being interviewed, either after being arrested or when they have voluntarily attended at a police station.

Despite this, Merseyside Police were reporting that vulnerable people were often being forced to wait to be dealt with because of a shortage of available Appropriate Adults in the region. These delays make them even more vulnerable and worsen their situation.

In partnership with the Force, the Commissioner has developed a new service to address these concerns. Following an open selection process, the Commissioner has today announced that she has appointed The Appropriate Adult Service (TAAS) to provide Appropriate Adults for all detained vulnerable people, seven days a week for a six-month pilot period.

Appropriate Adults are specially trained individuals who can assist vulnerable detainees to understand the custody process. They provide independent and impartial support and act as advocates, ensuring that detainees understand their rights, are treated fairly and assist with communication between the person and officials.

During this pilot programme the Commissioner, Merseyside Police and other partner agencies will evaluate the service in order to determine how a long term service should work. TAAS already provide this service in other police force areas and have a 100% record in meeting all referrals.

Jane said: “If a vulnerable person is detained, the first action of the police is always to try and find a suitable family member, carer or guardian who can provide care and support. Sadly, not everyone has someone on hand who can provide that level of help.

“In those cases where a vulnerable adult has no support, an Appropriate Adult can be a real lifeline. So I was concerned to hear that Merseyside Police were finding there were often significant delays when trying to obtain somebody who could step in to act as an advocate for them.

“It is imperative a vulnerable person has the right help and support and is dealt with as quickly as possible. People who have learning disabilities, are experiencing mental health problems or are particularly vulnerable should not be detained any longer than absolutely necessary.

“By commissioning The Appropriate Adult Service to provide this service my aim is to reduce delays and unnecessary stress for vulnerable people, make sure they understand their rights and in turn improve the care they receive.

“I am pleased that The Appropriate Adult Service are now co-ordinating this service on Merseyside and I would like to recognise and thank those who give their time and energy to support others at often a difficult time.”

An Appropriate Adult should be someone who is completely independent of both the police and the detained person. They should have a sound understanding of, and experience or training in, dealing with the needs of someone who is in mental ill health or has a mental disorder.

Merseyside Police’s Chief Superintendent Carl Krueger said: “Merseyside Police would welcome any additional support to assist the vulnerable people in our communities.

“We understand that being detained in custody can be a stressful experience and any delays can make the situation feel even worse for a vulnerable person.

“Having this extra support at hand means that vulnerable people can be dealt with quicker and they are not detained any longer than they need to be.”

The Commissioner has provided £50,000 to provide this service for a six-month pilot period so that the level of need can be assessed in the short term. She will look to work with the region’s local authorities so a long term pan-Merseyside service can be established.

Find out more about the Appropriate Adult scheme here.

More victims to get answers as PCC confirms restorative justice service will run for second year

A service that helps victims of crime to get answers from offenders will be run for a second year, Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has confirmed today.

In 2015, Jane Kennedy announced that she would be working with Merseyside’s Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) and not-for-profit community interest company Restorative Solutions to raise awareness of restorative justice and increase its use in the region, giving victims in Merseyside the chance to come face-to-face with offenders and make them realise the consequences of their crimes.

Following confirmation of Ministry of Justice funding, the Commissioner is now enabling the service to continue to run for a second year, through 2016 and into 2017. Following a rigorous tendering exercise, Jane has announced today that the CRC and Restorative Solutions will once again deliver a victim-led restorative justice scheme across the whole of Merseyside.

Jane said: “Restorative justice gives victims the chance to be heard, to get answers and to get a sense of closure. Giving victims who want to the chance to come face-to-face with those who have committed crimes against them and can help them to find a really positive way forward and even give them back some control over their anxieties.

“While restorative justice may not be for everyone, the aim is to ensure any victim of crime who feels this approach could benefit them is able to find out more, discuss their options with an experienced and accredited practitioner and decide if it really is for them. That’s exactly what the CRC and Restorative Solutions are providing on Merseyside.

“Not only that, but they are raising awareness to make sure more and more victims of crime know that this is a path they can take if they feel it could help them.

“I am pleased that the CRC and Restorative Solutions will continue to deliver this service for people across Merseyside, no matter where they live.”

Merseyside CRC and Restorative Solutions will continue to work closely with Merseyside Police and all the Commissioner’s criminal justice partners to deliver this service over the next 12 months, with the four key aims of increasing access; working with criminal justice partners to increase the number of restorative justice referrals; improving awareness and understanding of restorative justice and its benefits and delivering a high quality service focussed on the needs of victim and delivered by a trained facilitator.

Through this service, restorative justice is available at all stages of the criminal justice process, including pre-conviction and even in cases where a victim has not reported an offence to the police.

Restorative justice should always be voluntary and only takes place after both the victim and offender agree and a trained facilitator has assessed the case as suitable. This means a lot of careful preparatory work is required before a victim and offender meet. Victims also have the opportunity to withdraw at any point.

In February, the CRC hosted a major conference at the Anglican Cathedral which aimed to give the public a wider understanding of restorative justice and the impact it can have, both on the victim and the offender. Those who attended heard of the “tremendous benefit” a restorative justice conference had for a woman who chose to meet her partner’s killer, helping her to come to terms with what had happened.

Merseyside CRC’s Head of Operations and Development John Quick said: “We are so pleased to have been re-commissioned to deliver victim led Restorative Justice  in Merseyside for the next 12 months.”

The CRC and Restorative Solutions have previously delivered specialist restorative justice training to specific teams within Merseyside Police. This training aimed to equip PCSOs with greater knowledge and understanding of restorative justice to enable them to identify the cases where a victim would benefit from participating to help them cope and recover.

You can contact the Restorative Justice  team on 08452660761 or Email rjenquiries@merseyside.probation.gsi.gov.uk

 

Grassroots organisations to benefit from Merseyside PCC’s fund to cut crime

Twelve grassroots organisations which work to cut crime and protect communities on Merseyside have been awarded a share of more than £132,000 by the Police Commissioner.

Jane Kennedy received dozens of bids from community groups, charities and third sector organisations after opening up applications for grants from her Crime Prevention Fund for the third year running. A total of 116 bids were submitted for grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 with the total combined value being requested amounting to more than £1.7m.

The aim of the fund is to help local groups protect their communities, by stopping problems before they occur, reducing the opportunities for crime and by preventing people from becoming involved with anti-social and illegal behaviour.

Today, Jane has announced the 12 successful organisations which will each be given a share of this round of funding to make a difference in their neighbourhoods. Many of the organisations focus on preventing young people getting involved with crime and raising their awareness of key issues.

Among the successful organisations were the Royal Court Liverpool Trust who were awarded £20,000 to continue to run their hard-hitting drama Terriers. Terriers has received rave reviews from schools for helping to raise awareness among young people of the dangers of getting involved with gun and gang crime.

The Commissioner also awarded £15,000 to the Ariel Trust to help run their ‘It’s not OK!’ project aimed at providing resources to support teachers to deliver preventative education to young people on a range of issues, including domestic, homophobic and online abuse.

The funding will also go to Breckfield and North Everton Neighbourhood Council (BNEC) to help them deliver their Making Waves project which delivers both outreach and centre-based services for young people living in areas of high deprivation. £18,000 was allocated to BNEC to help run a free gym and fitness sessions, as well as gun and knife crime awareness workshops.

A scheme to improve the skills, lives and well-being of unemployed young people in some of Liverpool’s most deprived areas will also benefit from the grants. Employability Solutions received £9,000 to help run their ‘This is my Story’ project which focuses on tackling gun and gang related problems in the Speke and Garston area

Other successful projects will look to increase awareness of forced marriage in schools which have been identified as having high-risk students, a scheme to prevent repeat incidents of domestic abuse, increase knowledge and awareness of abusing legal highs and substance in schools, colleges, workplaces and youth clubs across Merseyside and a scheme which supports serious substance misusers to recover from addiction.

The funding will also be used to support Liverpool Pride by providing funding for its ‘COME OUT of the shadows’ campaign which will see popular landmarks across the city lit up to help build awareness of LGBT issues. The project will initially see the Three Graces, the Radio City Tower and the Wheel of Liverpool illuminated.

Jane said: “Once again I received a staggering response to my invitation for bids for my Crime Prevention Fund.  The number and quality of the bids I received demonstrates the wealth of fantastic initiatives taking place across Merseyside to prevent and tackle crime and keep our communities safe.

“I am delighted to announce that 12 organisations will this year benefit from a cash boost from the Fund. Each of these organisations are taking an innovative approach to addressing the issues they have identified in the communities they serve. They each showed genuine passion and a real drive to make a difference.

“Providing these small grants to prevent crime before it occurs can have a huge impact in the long term by helping to deter people, especially young people, from entering the criminal justice system, reducing the number of victims and making our communities better places to live.

“I look forward to seeing all these projects being delivered over the next year.”

Organisations who applied for the funding needed to show how their project would work to tackle the objectives set out in the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan. These include tackling serious and organised crime, preventing crime and anti-social behaviour, providing a visible and accessible neighbourhood policing style, supporting victims, protecting vulnerable people and maintaining public safety.

Applications needed to demonstrate how the initiative would deter individuals from committing crime, reduce the number of people entering the criminal justice system, or lower reoffending. They were also assessed to see how well they would protect vulnerable communities. The fund was administered by Liverpool CVS and Sefton CVS.

Successful projects

 Scheme  Funding (£)
 Ariel Trust (It’s Not OK)  15,000
 Breckfield & North Everton Neighbourhood Council (Making Waves)  18,000
 Community Safe  12,000
 Employability Solutions  9,000
 Evolve Tackling Legal Highs & Volatile Substance Abuse  6,000
 Genie in the Gutter  6,000
 Liverpool Pride Lighting Strategy  4,460
 Merseyside Youth Challenge  5,000
 Moving On With Life & Learning Ltd  4,000
 Royal Court Liverpool Trust Ltd (Terriers)  20,000
 Savera Liverpool  14,300
 WEB Merseyside  18,260
 TOTAL  132,020

Standing against Female Genital Mutilation

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner and Merseyside Police have joined forces to pledge their support ahead of International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation this weekend.

The UN marks the international awareness-raising day every on February 6th with the aim of increasing understanding and awareness of this harmful practice which affects millions of women and girls worldwide.

Female Genital Mutilation or FGM, as it is commonly known, refers to all procedures which involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.  It is recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women and is also sometimes referred to as female circumcision or cutting.

Globally, it is estimated that between 100 million to 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of genital mutilation. A further three million girls are thought to be at risk of mutilation each year. If current trends continue, 15 million additional girls between the ages of 15 and 19 will be subjected to it by 2030.

In the UK, it is estimated that 137,000 women have been affected by genital mutilation however, the true extent is unknown, due to the hidden nature of the crime.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: ““Female genital mutilation is a barbaric practice that has no place in today’s society.

“Raising awareness of the risks and signs of FGM within our communities and among key agencies and professionals is vital if we are to protect women and girls from harm.

“FGM is not only illegal, it is life-threatening, and it can leave its young victims in real agony with long-term physical and psychological problems.

“While FGM is a deeply sensitive subject, there are no cultural, religious or medical reasons that can ever justify a practice that causes so much suffering. We need everyone to understand FGM is child abuse, it’s illegal and it will not be tolerated.

“I would urge anyone who has been affected by FGM or knows someone who has to come forward confident in the knowledge they will be helped and supported.”

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Kameen from Merseyside Police’s specialist Protecting Vulnerable People Team said: “We are proud to be among many police forces throughout the UK that are supporting International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. This practice is largely perpetuated against children in secret and often without anaesthetic leaving the poor victim in absolute agony and is nothing short of child abuse.

“It is a global problem but one that also exists here in Merseyside, although the true scale is not yet known.

“It is important that we all start talking about FGM as an issue so that it is no longer a taboo amongst communities themselves or the agencies and charities that are there to help them. Frontline police officers and health professionals are now getting the training they need to recognise the signs of FGM taking place and what to do if someone reports it having happened to them or a friend.

“By understanding better what has happened to the victims of this terrible crime, we will be able to gather the evidence we need to bring to justice the people who carry it out.

“The force has officers who are specially trained to investigate offences robustly but also with sensitivity and I would encourage anyone who is a victim or has information to find the courage to come forward and speak to us.  People can call officers on 0151 777 4088 or the non-emergency 101 number.”

If you’re worried about FGM or have concerns about a child being or becoming a victim, you can also call the free 24-hour advice and support line run by the NSPCC on 0800 028 3550 or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

Listen to a survivor’s story here.

Find out more about FGM on the NSPCC website and the NHS Choices website

PCC visits custody suites to see first-hand the work of volunteers

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner joined the chair of her Independent Custody Visitor (ICV) scheme as he carried out a night-time visit to two police stations to check on the welfare of detainees this weekend.

Jane Kennedy accompanied volunteer ICV Advisor Reverend Peter Beaman as he carried out unannounced visits to the custody suites at St Anne Street and Birkenhead police stations on Friday night.

This was the second time the Commissioner has joined the ICVs to witness their work and meet the staff in the custody suites.

The Commissioner is responsible for the ICV scheme, which see volunteers make random visits to custody suites across Merseyside every week to check on the conditions and make sure those who are being kept in the cells are being treated with dignity and respect.

There are currently 33 dedicated volunteers on Merseyside’s ICV scheme and last year they carried out a total of 290 visits speaking to more than 1,850 detainees. Rev. Beaman has been involved in the scheme since 1985 and he invited the Commissioner to join him as he carried out the Friday night visit.

Jane said: “Our Independent Custody Visitors give up their free time to visit police stations at all times of the night and day so they can go and check on the welfare on those who are being kept in the cells.

“They carry out an important public duty which provides reassurance to those detainees, who are potentially vulnerable, as well as to the public, the police and to me.

“I was delighted to accompany Rev. Beaman, who has given more than 30 years dedicated service to this scheme, as he carried out one of his regular visits to both St Anne Street and Birkenhead custody suites during what is a peak time for the police.

“It was really interesting to see for myself the essential work our volunteers do and the interaction they have with both the custody sergeants and officers and those who are being kept in the cells.

“Knowing that Rev. Beaman and the other dedicated volunteers are carrying out these visits on a weekly basis gives me peace of mind and helps the public to know that those who are being detained are kept in safe and appropriate conditions and receiving care of the highest standard.”

The ICV scheme was established following the recommendations of Lord Scarman in 1981 after his investigation into the Brixton riots and first began to operate in Merseyside in April 1984, with 20 members of the public being trained as visitors.

Find out more about the scheme here.

Merseyside Police Commissioner asks the VCF network for their views on police funding

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is asking local people if they would be willing to pay a little extra to protect local police.

After six years of austerity, the Government announced in December that it would not cut the police budget any further. However, in his calculations the Chancellor actually included a 0.6% cut to Merseyside Police’s grant that he assumed would be made up by local people paying more towards policing through their Council Tax.

In a letter later sent to Police Commissioners, it was confirmed that they would be expected to increase the police precept part of the local council tax in order to maintain the current levels of funding for their police service.

This means that if Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy chooses not to increase the police precept by 1.95% as anticipated by the Government, the police’s budget will effectively be cut by 0.6% – the equivalent of £1.35m. This cut puts at risk about 26 police officer posts.

Now Jane is asking local people whether they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week on their annual Council Tax bill to make up for the Government shortfall and make sure she is able to balance the budget.

The proposed increase expected by the Government works out as about £2 a year extra for a Band A household – the lowest Council Tax category and the amount paid by the majority of tax payers on Merseyside. This would increase the police element of tax payers’ bills from £106.45 to £108.53.

Jane said: “While the Government’s dramatic U-turn on cuts of up to 40% on our police service came as a huge relief last year, the Chancellor was only able to say that he was protecting the police budget by assuming that local tax payers would pay more.

“The Chancellor did not consult local people, he just put together the police’s budget on the expectation that the residents of Merseyside would make up the difference. This has effectively tied my hands – if I don’t increase the amount of council tax collected towards policing, the Force will lose out.

“Merseyside Police has already had its budget cut by more than £77m over the last six years. This has led to the loss of more than 1,600 officers, PCSOs and staff.  This is all in a context of rising crime and major budget cuts to our community safety partners. We cannot afford to lose any more.

“I am therefore asking people if they would be willing to contribute an extra 4p a week to help balance the books against this cut by the government and protect vital frontline police services.”

In previous years the Government has made grants available to those Police Commissioners who did not increase their precept, but this now been scrapped leaving Jane with no choice but to increase the precept if she is to set a balanced budget.

By increasing the precept by 1.95%, the Commissioner can raise enough money to cover the Government’s cut and protect local officer jobs.

People are invited to have their say through an online survey at http://www.merseysidepcc.info/paying-to-protect-local-policing.aspx by 1st February. The Commissioner will also be holding a series of road shows, one in each Local Authority area with two in Liverpool, to ask people for their views.

Time and Date Location
4pm-6pm Monday 25th January Asda Huyton
Huyton Lane
Knowsley
L36 7TX
12.30-2.30pm Tuesday 26th January Asda Walton,
Utting Avenue,
Walton,
L4 9XU
1.30-3.30pm Wednesday 27th January Asda Superstore
222 Grange Rd,
Birkenhead,
Wirral,
CH41 6EB
1pm -3pm Thursday 28th January Sainsburys,
Liverpool Road,
Crosby
L23 2SA
10am – 12 noon Friday 29th January Asda St Helens
Kirkland Street,
St Helens,
WA10 2EF
2.30-4.30pm Monday 1st February Liverpool South
Venue TBC

The Commissioner added: “I know that everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment and I don’t make this proposal lightly, but unfortunately the Government is forcing me to ask people for a little more if Merseyside Police is to maintain the same high level of service the public have come to expect.

“Looking ahead, we are also facing increases in national insurance, pay and pensions, all of which make it even more important to keep the budget balanced now.

“Before I make any final decision I want to hear the views of local people.”

Take part in the survey here at http://www.merseysidepcc.info/paying-to-protect-local-policing.aspx