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Community Stop Search Scrutiny Panel - Minutes June 2020

Title of meeting: Bedfordshire Community Stop Search Scrutiny Panel
Date: Thursday 4 June 2020
Time: 6.30pm to 9pm
Venue: Via Skype

Attendees: Chair Montell Neufville,(MN) Vice Chair Andy Watts,(AW)Lorraine Parkinson (LP) Myrny Loy (ML) Phil Dickson Earl (PDE) Lauren Bell (LB) Howard McCalla (HM) Adeel Bashir (AB) (Kelly Shogbade (KS) Bipin Rana (BP) Martin White (MW) Shaidah Ali (SA) Femy Lester (FL) Rochelle White (RW)
Montel to provide names for attendance and records
Also In attendance : PCC Office: Clare Kelly CEO,(CK) Phil McCarthy (PM) Project Manager
Beds Police: Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra, (SB) Chief Insp. Ian Taylor, (IT) A/Sgt Vic Sanghera (VS) and Tri-Force (Beds/Herts/Cambs) Professional Standards Head, Detective Supt. Amanda Bell (AB)

 

Welcome, Introductions, apologies

The Chair, Montell Neufville (MN) welcomed everyone and introduced himself to new members and apologies were made. MN announced that the Beds Stop and Search Panel has become the model panel for the country. MN introduced the deputy Andy Watts to the new members

The panel then introduced themselves. As this was the first virtual panel MN encouraged members to use their video cameras to allow people to see each other for the meeting.

MN explained to the new members of the panel what this meeting entailed and their role within it.

MN also mentioned the new Police members to the Stop and Search panel and invited them to introduce themselves.

Minutes of last meeting, matters arising and actions points

Due to this being a Skype meeting and technical issues, certain aspects of the meeting had be narrated rather than presented. MN went through the minutes and the actions from the last meeting one by one.

Past Actions that are still ongoing:

  • Action - The data quality of the Stop and Search panel receive via the Police.UK and Beds Police needs to be accurate to ensure the panel can be assured that
  • officer’s using their powers fairly and
  • The panel can be a positive route for change for officers using Stop and Search.
  • MN is cognisant that the new Police members will need time to have a look at how the quality of data being provided is accurate.
  • Action - IT to review the data provided and ensure the data provided is correct and where possible more in line with Police.UK before the next Stop and Search meeting
  • Action – The action to invite Detective Inspector Mark Pugh to the Panel still stands. IT will take this action on
  • Discussion concerning the requirement around data quality and harvesting of the data to ensure the panel can effectively scrutinise the data set continued later in the meeting.

Report back from community complaint trigger

MN explained the Stop and Search scrutiny panel role of scrutinising the Forces use of stop and search powers. The complaints trigger can look at anything concerning stop and search. This could be a single incident or how the powers are used in the force area.

All 43 Forces have them and they are independent panels.

The Stop and Search Scrutiny panel have developed a way of activating this community complaint trigger by reviewing chosen Body Warn footage of officers conducting stop and search and assessing them using a RAG code – Red, Amber or Green

The panel can make comment on issues that could have significant issue in Bedfordshire but the panel can only act on issues affecting Bedfordshire.

Chairs Update, Role of Panel, Sub Group Information

MN explains the importance of data and statistics and how we can use them to make changes.

MN explained how the panel represent the voice of the community and those who work or study in Bedfordshire and this panel is one of the largest in the country.

The panel acts as a critical friend of the Force, and acts as a conduit to share concerns with the police or community around stop and search.

MN explained a sub panel will now be looking into ‘Use of Force’. The process is still being looked into. MN explained any S&S panel member can join the sub panel. Anyone who isn’t fully vetted can be vetted to join. The first meeting for the UOF sub panel will be on 25th June 2020 and wil be virtual via Microsoft teams.. This meeting will just be to understand UOF, the powers and to help develop the processes.

Panel Governance

The role of the S&S SP is to ensure that stops are carried out fairly and effectively using GOWISELY. Further monitoring can be done through BWV and TuServ. It is essential that data and demographics are available for the panel to view

Training for both the panel and officers is done from both a national and local level.

MN stated there is concern that the number of stop and searches conducted during lockdown had increased from 200 – 400. The concern is what internal scrutiny of the increased number of stop and searches across the County being carried out by Supervisor's to ensure compliance and disproportionality is not occurring. This will be addressed later in the meeting when statistics will be discussed in Item 7.

Stop and Search sub group membership: Use of Force sub group

MN and explained the new sub-group of the scrutiny panel to look at Use of Force officers use.

Discussion over vetting ensued with members stating they had not received their vetting clearance.

Member Martin White questioned he had not received his vetting clearance. MN confirmed this was in place. Bipin also questioned his vetting status. Bipin’s vetting had also been completed. MN advised that he is copied into replies so he can reassure panel members that the process had been completed.

Action A/Sgt VS to send email confirming Vetting for those wishing to be on this sub group

MN discussed the training provided to be part of the group that allows members to scrutinise the use of force they will see.

Action: MN to speak to Ch Insp Hob HOQUE for another round of training for the sub group and new members.

During the discussion two members: Myrna Joy and Adeel Bashir stated they wanted to be part of this sub group via messages sent on the Skype message board

Action MN and VS to progress the two members onto the panel

MN asked IT what do officers do to ensure Use of Force is used fairly and not in a discriminated way?

IT stated there is an internal panel that reviews Use of Force forms which officers complete if they have used force as part of an arrest or incident. This would show up on frequency an officers is using force and identify what force was used and also is there signs of disproportionality in the use of force. IT went onto explain the Independent Advisory Group also view Use of Force statistics.

Data can be tracked to individual officer’s use of force and any pattern to trends can be identified.

Discussion over use of force and officer accountability and also how body warn footage could be viewed by the panel. There was mention of social distancing for the Lecture theatre and/ or pre loading the footage for the panel to view on the meeting.

During the discussion panel member Phil DE asked what the panel and police would do if a UK based incident of the USA incident involving the death of Mr Floyd and police use of force type of video was presented? MN and IT answered this by way of processes and how it would be picked up from processes in place over the issues that footage would have raised.

MN reinforced the point that with the increase in number of stop and searches and the lack of supervision scrutinising the stop and searches, there is potential of not as extreme results as in the case of Mr Floyd but was very concerned about the lack of stop and searches being internally scrutinised. There is a backlog of at least 700 BWV’s that had not been checked. As of May 2020.

CK intervened to state that type of incident would not be passed to this group as the original offence would be so grave it would be subject to a much more stringent investigation process. This would go to direct to the IOPC.

Moving on MN commented upon the lack of use of body warn video (BWV) around the issue of fixed penalty tickets for COVID-19 related incidents.

IT gave his apologies that this was the case and his current role affords him the opportunity to review and reinforce the need for BWV to be switched on for these incident types. There was a general discussion concerning the BWV and officers not switching them on in time to capture all of the incident or not on at all.

IT related his own policing experiences around using this as part of the new way of patrolling, not all officers are doing this and again he’ll be taking this forward. However there are few technical issues that can be supportive or restrictive:

The force recently went on a TuServe IT platform that provides more capacity to scrutinise stop and searches and other BWV incidents captured along with Supervisors first line management responsibility to check on their teams performance.

AW expressed his frustration that the first line supervision do not appear to be completing these tasks of reviewing BWV concerning Stop and Search.

Myrna Joy asked if there were repercussions if officers do not switch on the BWV cameras? IT stated there is a clear policy on what officers should and should not have BWV switched on for.

Howard McMalla asked how long BWV had been in force, if it’s new then there may be justification around poor level of use and how it can protect officers if they use it properly. MN and IT stated this has been in a few years so was not the case.

Action: IT to reinforce to officers the policy of BWV and also for supervisors to complete BWV checks on their staff.

MN noted that at the start of the stop & search scrutiny panel in 2017 the panel received statistics around its use but that has now stopped.

Action CK and IT to go back to the Force to restart receiving this data for the panel

Stop and Search figures; Feedback on arrest rates

As well as of viewing videos of stop and searches which would normally take place, the panel reviewed stop and search statistics provided by the police.

Before VS went onto describe the statistics concerning the Stop and search, there was a general discussion over the data and the quality of that data.

MN stated he was looking for data that was easy to read and present such as pie charts. The data to be consistent so effective analysis can be achieved and allows the panel to spot trends early and compare trends. This is not the current position.

VS stated he was trying to get an analyst to work on the data that would support MN requests. VS added Police.UK have public data available but internal data is more accurate

CK stated previously the data set was nearly to the point the panel required but has recently declined.

Action: CK will formally take this point concerning data quality back to the Force Strategic Board for them to provide reassurance on getting this correct.

Also during his discussion COVID-19 related Fixed Penalty data was discussed. CK had agreement from COVID-19 Gold Commander Chief Supt John Murphy he would be happy for the group to scrutinise this data when the report has been compiled.

ACC Basra then spoke to confirm that since his recent return to the force, one of his operational objectives relates to the data quality the Force has and how this needs to improve. He apologised for the data quality received by the panel.

MN spoke about the arrests relating to COVID-19 but this was corrected by IT and CK as the COVID-19 was a fixed penalty ticket leading to a fine rather than arrests per se. For an arrest other factors had be present.

MN went on to give the figures of 1500 engagements and 300 FPN’s issued and one arrest for failing to leave and event then after a S32 search (this is a power offered to officers to search a person after an arrest) that person was eventually let go.

CK explained to the panel that the force stance was one of 4 E’s – Engage, Explain, Educate and as a last resort Enforce.

VS then presented to Stop and Search data to the panels via desktop presenting. (

MN was interested in Officer defined Ethnicity and discussion over the stop searches for the various ethnic codes took place.

Data quality issues rose again due to the differences pointed out from the public Police.UK data set against what the police were publishing which prompted member Howard Mc to state ‘Who has the right version of the truth’ which emphasised the need to get data quality correct for the panel

MN mentioned the Police.UK figures have never been the same as the data Beds Police give and IT could not provide an answer. MN stated Herts Police are not in the same position as their data does match. IT stated he was surprised at that as both forces use TuServe as their IT platform and was confident all three forces - including Cambridgeshire faced the same IT issues Beds do.

MN stated the stop and search figures could highlight how effective officers are at fighting crime – the higher arrest rate following stop and search the better they are and the lower arrest rate following stop and search the poorer they are.

MN stated the arrest rate post search rate used to be around 15 – 18% but was not only between 2.5 % and 6% (depending on what data set was looked at

The no further action rate (Nothing found rate (the lower the better) used to be around 60% but currently it’s at 79.5 % so less people are being arrested and less items are being found so no warnings issued – is this indicative of poor intelligence led stop searches? Or are officers just using poor judgement using stop and search?

CK added stop and search is not always looking for an arrest outcome but also there could be other reasons such as operations taking place. MN stated that to conduct a stop and search they must have reasonable grounds. If there was an intelligence led operation there would be even better outcomes, not worse outcomes. The statistics are the measuring tools regardless of an operation taking place or not.

Action: to drill down into the data received and understand in detail these figures for more accurate assessment

M

N added that in these stop & search figures were the highest he had seen without any justification being provided

VS added that in lockdown certain offences such as drug exchanges are more visible and officers could be seeing more suspicious activity resulting in increased stop searches. MN Stated that based on the data and worse outcomes, this could not be the case.

CK reiterated that the need to have accurate data and detail around the figures will help the panel s understanding.

MN asked the panel for any views on the overall figures.

Questions asked were: How do we know if officers are not discriminating

How could any rogue officer be identified

What would the force do if they found them

What protection and safeguards exist for the community

It answered covering the above points raised. Supervisors check on their teams performance by dip sampling their work and provide overall quality assessment that makes sure officers are using all of their powers in the right way and that provides community reassurance. Safeguards are in place to capture poor performance.

MN added a scenario concerning how would the force pick up on an officer using prejudice in stop and search

Head of Professional standards Detective Superintendent Amanda Bell stated that officers undergo a more stringent vetting that looks into those characteristics, checks suitability to be a police officer and filters out those who may pose a risk

CK added that he force also added another layer of face to face interviews which MN sits on to get that human feel for the potential recruit and not just rely on National Standards. MN confirmed he has sat on over 140 interview panels and also part of officer training.

Update on any Stop and Search issues in the Community

Phil raised the issue that is currently sweeping America. The demonstration outside the White House and how riot police dispersed groups for the President.

CK mentioned the differences between American response to protests to the one London had yesterday. Where officers in the UK were not dressed other than in normal uniform compared to US police who were in full riot gear and how that passes onto the officers unconscious bias preparing for a confrontation.

CK also stated that unconscious bias is taught to hose officers and again MN is involved in delivering to the new recruits around these issues.

COVID-19 Update

IT stated the Force had a Gold (Senior Strategic led group) and Silver (tactical led group) in place during the COVID-19 pandemic taking into account all the pressures of policing during these times.

COVID-19 demand related to 20% of all calls to the police.

Constant review of the situation the Force faced across these weeks.

MN asked if COVID related statistics can be made available to this group

CK stated this will be in the report Gold Commander John Murphy is collating and will be available for this group to review. The report is not ready yet.

It was also noted the Force stance on the policing style was the Engage, Explain and Educate style with Enforcement as a last resort and that has worked well.

MN invited comments from the panel over the COID -19 response .

CK went onto explain the Force and OPCC took significant decision concerning closing down offices to allow more room for officers to work. Those non-essential roles who could work from home did so and remain doing so. However Response and Custody functions, there is only so much that can be done to reduce risks. The very nature of those frontline roles means close proximity working and contact the public.

Phil asked about how this affected the Force, similar to NHS ICU units working with PPE etc.

CK stated the Force shielded some officers and staff due to underlying health conditions however the sickness level absence never went above 12% which is really good and testament to the hard work the officers and staff have put in during these times.

Complaints

MN called in AB to explain the complaints procedure.

AB explained that the revised complaints procedure under the Police and Crime Act came into force in Feb 2020.

There are no changes as to how members of the public can make complaints.

Public complaints will still be assessed and investigated.

The processes within Forces have slightly changed but reiterated that the pathways to make complaints has not changed.

Lower level of complaints can still be resolved quickly and those that require a more thorough investigation or more in- depth enquiries will still happen.

AOB

MN stated the expectation of the panel was for officers to switch on BWV at an early stage – this was to answer a point that panel member Kelly asked around how officers would deal with a group of people and how they initially react to that group.

MN reiterated the need around data and the best ways to capture this for Stop and Search and Use of Force groups to scrutinise.

MN asked IT about officers making up both of the above incident types for Evidence – this prevents them being automatically cleared off of the system after a period of time

Action: IT to send out communications regarding this as way of reinforcement.

Meeting closed:

CK thanked the panel for their attendance at the meeting and although difficult there is a real need to maintain this group and sub group during these times.

MN also thanked the group for their contribution.

Meeting closed 8.45pm

Action list

  1. IT to review the data provided and ensure the data provided is correct and where possible more in line with Police.Uk before the next Stop and Search meeting – Ian Taylor
  2. The action to invite Detective Inspector Mark Pugh to the Panel still stands. IT will take this action on - Ian Taylor 
  3. A/Sgt VS to send email confirming Vetting for those wishing to be on this sub group – Vic Sanghera
  4. MN to speak to Ch Insp Hob HOQUE for another round of training for the Use of Force sub group and new members – Montel 
  5. MN and VS to progress the two members onto the panel (Myrna Joy and Adeel Bashir) - Montel and Vic
  6. IT to reinforce to officers the policy of BWV and also for supervisors to complete BWV checks on their staff – Ian Taylor
  7. CK and IT to go back to the Force to restart receiving this data for the panel (BWV use data) - Clare Kelly and Ian Taylor
  8. CK will formally take this point concerning data quality back to the Force Strategic Board for them to provide reassurance on getting this correct - Clare Kelly
  9. COVID-19 FPN - to drill down into the data received and understand in detail these figures for more accurate assessment - Clare Kelly and Ian Taylor
  10. IT to send out communications regarding this as way of reinforcement - Ian Taylor

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