Update by Inspector Declan Cahill
The committee received a verbal update from Chief Inspector Cahill of South Wales Police in relation to anti-social behaviour.
Chief Inspector Declan Cahill summarised the reasons for the conception of Operation Grey Denver. Chief Inspector Declan Cahill continued by informing the committee that there had been a loss of trust and confidence following issues in Neath Town Centre around anti-behaviour and substance misuse. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that Inspector Roy Portlock had devised an effective Patrol Strategy for Neath Town Centre to address the issues raised. Chief Inspector Cahill commented that a media strategy had been set up jointly between South Wales Police and Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council which informed the public via social media of the good work being done to resolve the problems being encountered. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that a Street Vulnerable Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) had been set up with partner agencies to deal with any issues immediately. Chief Inspector Cahill reported that 17 third sector partners had attended the previous meeting. Chief Inspector Cahill informed the committee that 27 referrals had been received to date and fifty percent had accepted some form of assistance from partner agencies.
Chief Inspector Cahill reported that three Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) were ongoing while the Police were gathering evidence. Chief Inspector Cahill commented that the order stipulated that an individual had to work closely with partners to address any issues with addictions to substances. Chief Inspector Cahill informed the committee that one individual who had gone through the process was now a reformed character and was now employed and wanted to apologise to the retailers where he had caused disruption. Chief Inspector Cahill reported that sharing resources amongst partners and working together was producing good results, and this was a good example.
Chief Inspector Declan Cahill updated the committee on the diverted giving scheme that had been implemented in Neath Town Centre, and informed Members that citizens were now being encouraged not to give donations directly to homeless individuals, but to place their contribution into a box where the money would be distributed according to need. Chief Inspector Declan Cahill stated that on the 8th December 2017 that staff from South Wales Police were permitted to collect money on behalf of homeless people at an Ospreys game. Chief Inspector Cahill added that partnership work was growing in strength but there was still more to do.
Members acknowledged the good work being carried out by South Wales Police and partners. Members added that they were aware that Santander would match contributions made by citizens as part of the diverted giving scheme. Members raised fears and concerns that a new gang were now congregating outside the Neath train station that they had not seen before.
Members queried whether action was being taken to prevent under age people from purchasing alcohol in licensed establishments. Chief Inspector Declan Cahill reported that South Wales Police had inspected licensed premises and each one visited had passed.
Members queried what was being done to address substance misuse and anti-social behaviour issues in the Aberavon and Port Talbot wards. Chief Inspector Cahill reported that he had made contact with Inspector Donna Llewelyn who was dealing with these issues. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that there were issues with private rented accommodation, and that partners had met to discuss as part of the Partners Action Group.
Chief Inspector Cahill informed the committee that Operation Hazel had previously been carried out with British Transport Police to prevent new gangs coming on the train to Neath and dealing drugs. Chief Inspector Declan Cahill reported that Operation Hazel Two was launched and had been arranged on the 27th July to prevent county lines issues. Chief Inspector Cahill mentioned that inspectors had met with Environmental Health to deal with problematic properties and private landlords.
Members questioned whether the Police had received many reports of disturbances from multi occupancy properties. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that he did not have that information to hand. Members mentioned that the Environmental Health and Planning Department were able to do historical searches on the types of properties and that this information could be useful to the Police. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that the Police already linked in with these departments when necessary.
Members referred to Operation Hazel one and two, and questioned what the cost was to the Police with regard to police sniffer dog operations, and whether this would compromise any similar future activities. Chief Inspector Cahill informed the committee that this was the Police’s own resource and therefore there was no additional cost associated with this. Chief Inspector Cahill added that the team were based in the Bridgend headquarters.
Members queried whether there were plans to source more CCTV cameras in the area in question. Chief Inspector Cahill commented that this was not a cost that the Police were accountable for. Chief Inspector Cahill added that additional CCTV cameras were not always cost effective. Officers stated that suggestions for additional cameras were often raised and people received conflicting advice. Officers informed the committee that when the Council introduced new CCTV cameras it had to consider whether it infringed citisens’ human rights, particularly in residential areas. Officers stated that CCTV cameras were one of many techniques needed to address anti-social behavior, and it was important to have the right balance. Officers added that a review was currently being undertaken to look at the Authority’s CCTV cameras and how to sustain them for the future. Members stated that they would like to receive the consultant’s report that determined the location of the current CCTV cameras and informed the decisions to remove cameras from some areas and to install additional cameras in other areas. Officers stated they would share the report with the committee on the understanding that the report was private, as it contained commercially sensitive information.
Members commented that they were keen to understand the logic and the history for the current location of cameras before receiving a report on the progress of the review at the meeting on the 8th January. Members questioned whether the Police would be involved in the process for determining the future locations of CCTV cameras based on the data that they have at their disposable, and the potential gaps that they could identify. Officers explained that the Police were not providing an input into the new review, and that the focus was on finding ways to make the service sustainable. Officers reported that Briton Ferry Town Council had communicated with the Authority regarding the possibility of installing additional cameras in their area. Officers added that options had been explored to amalgamate the service with other services to sustain it, but these had proven unsuccessful. Members requested for a list of the CCTV cameras currently in operation and their locations to be included in the report due to come before the committee. Members requested further information to be included in the report such as when the cameras were installed, the reason why and whether the surveillance tests was passed. Officers advised that information would be contained in the consultant’s report which would be circulated on a ‘confidential’ basis.
Members commented that the “hot spots” may have changed since the last review on the CCTV cameras was carried out with the consultant. Chief Inspector Cahill stated that CCTV cameras would not always prevent groups from congregating in one area. Chief Inspector Cahill informed the committee that the Police used mobile CCTV cameras in Swansea city centre called “owl boxes.” Chief Inspector Cahill added that these would be deployed to address hot spot areas for a limited amount of time, and required adequate signage to make members of the public aware of their presence so that their human rights were not infringed.
Following scrutiny, the committee noted the update from Chief Inspector Cahill.