Minutes of the July Open Meeting: Meeting held at 7.30pm on Monday 25 July in Mowlem Committee Room
1.The SRA Chairman, John Leach, chaired meeting. Committee members present were: Stewart Borrett, Robert Owen, Rowland Hughes, and Mike Hadley
Apologies: Councilor Cherry Bartlett, Councilor Hilary O'Donovan, Councillor Colin Bright, David Price-Hughes.
Date of meeting: SRA chairman apologised that meeting fell at same time of regular Council meeting and gave assurance SRA would try to avoid this in future.
Present: about 80 people
2. Previous meeting
Minutes: published on www. swanageresidents.org.uk and www.swanageview.co.uk
Dorset Schools: John Leach reported that he (and Rowland Hughes) had both written to the DCC education officer: response was that no meetings are likely to be held in Swanage unless or until there may be any proposals to change anything.
3. Policing in Swanage
John Leach introduced PC Dick Clapp, Community Beat Officer for Swanage, who spoke about a range of issues known to be of probable interest. He emphasised that he could not discuss personal issues or necessarily explain or affect policy decisions.
3.1 Lack of Police presence (esp. Friday/Saturday nights): Swanage police are trying to address this problem by changing shift patterns, and looking for volunteer Special Constables.
3.2 Long response time: calls are prioritised and judgment made on relative urgency.
3.3 Phoning Swanage police station: difficulty of phone contact is understood, and being reviewed. If the station line is un-manned all calls are diverted to a central switchboard. People can also write with any suggestions, comments or complaints, either to Swanage Police, direct to PC Clapp or phone 01202 222222.
3.4 Police Station unmanned? PCC noted there are officers on duty 24 hours, but they may be on calls or patrol, and front-desk enquiries only operate 9 am - 5pm.
3.5 Lack of police presence: the police are aware of this situation, but this is a function of resources and funding.
3.6 Police Community Support Officers: formerly Community Wardens, these now have more authority, there are four at present but hope to get more. Two have been on sick leave, one returning soon, to be sorted soon.
3.7 Crime prevention: a key difficulty concerning resource allocation is that it is difficult to quantify the effect of the presence of beat officers in limiting/preventing crime. PCC believes this has a significant effect but is unable to put figures on what crimes they have prevented.
3.8 Increasing lawlessness? While there are still troubles, it is better now than 4/5 years ago, having got rid of a number of key individuals. The police, who are working with other agencies to resolve problems and help those causing trouble, know most troublemakers.
3.9 Information: The police depend heavily on information received from the public. PCC stressed the strict procedures concerning protection of sources, that prosecutions may be dropped rather than break confidentiality. He stressed that people may always call him personally if they wished to report any problems or issues of concern.
3.10 Vandalism: PCC noted (and Rowland Hughes endorsed) that most youngsters are good and are involved with all sorts of positive things in the community. He also noted that it is not just youngsters who vandalise: pensioners have been responsible for daubing graffiti and for stealing flowers. PCC noted that one trouble seems to be that young people have no awareness of boundaries of acceptable behaviour any more.
3.11 Pubwatch: there is a new scheme being prepared, involving certain pubs and multi-agency groups, to monitor and control undesirable people and behaviour in pubs.
3.12 Operation Goodwill: this is another scheme operating, targeted at stopping young/binge drinking.
3.13 Radio Link: PCC noted that around 40 shops are members of this Chamber of Trade scheme, whereby the police, and each other, can be quickly alerted of any problems. For example, there are now counterfeit £50 notes in circulation in Swanage. Members of the public should feel free to ask participating shops (identifiable by window stickers) to use their radios if they wish to report any crime, potential criminal activity or to help with other problems, such as lost children or visitors from coach parties.
3.14 CCTV: PCC noted that these seem to have been very effective in reducing assaults and anti-social behaviour, now trying to get for the Lower High Street and King George's.
3.15 Young people: PCC noted that places where young people gather (egg Play in Swanage, Y-Axis skate-park) also tend to attract undesirable adults. He requested that he be informed of any suspicious behaviour or people.
3.16 ASBOS: PCC explained the process leading to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order): first, a warning letter; second, another warning letter; third, an ABC (acceptable behaviour contract), working with multi-agency groups and schools to help manage individuals' behaviour; finally an ASBO. This process is designed to help young people, and forces other groups to help also. PCC believes they are a big help.
3.16 School education: PCC explained how there have been initiatives to talk to Year 10 pupils about drink, drugs and anti-social behaviour. These have had good feedback; plan is now to extend to Year 9 and 11. PCC also mentioned the success and value of the Streetwise centre (In Wimborne) in illustrating dangers to younger children.
4 Questions from the meeting
Q - why does it seem to spend so much time flying over Swanage at night?
A - if it's here, it's either providing valuable assistance to police on the ground, or perhaps returning from a call.
Q - why do helicopters seem to be using a flight path over the Grayseed estate?
A - he will look into this. (PCC reports that there is no set flight path)
4.2 Speeding vehicles
Q - why do the police do nothing to stop speeding in Ulwell Road and other roads.
A - people ARE stopped here, but lack of resources, means not as often as might be liked. Put complaints in writing to the police if you are concerned.
4.3 Police staffing
Q - How many police in Swanage, covering what area?
A - Area covers Kimmeridge, Corfe, Studland and Swanage. During the day there are usually 3 to 4 officers; Evenings, 2pm - 10pm, 2 officers; 10pm onwards - 1 to 3 or 4 officers. No custody sergeant in Swanage (doesn't have the facilities required by law), so prisoners have to be taken to Poole or Weymouth.
Q - Could Swanage not borrow police from other areas to show a presence?
A - Yes, it happens sometimes.
4.4 Police follow-up
Q - Why can't police get back to us and/or follow-up crimes?
A - Lack of resources. Some crimes dealt with 'remotely', a follow-up without contacting the victim.
4.5 Crime reporting.
Q - We are encouraged to report crimes - but how can a crime be reported if no one answers the phone?
A - point taken. But Swanage police station (422004) should be diverted to 01202 222222 if unmanned.
4.6 Informing the community
Q - Recent example of an armed house robbery: how can the community be made aware, so can take preventative action?
A - this not the meeting for Crime Safety, but Home Watch best mechanism for this.
Q - Are there enough police?
A – No
5 Any other business
Moyra Cross explained difficulties in trying to recycle plastic bottles, owing to sites being on opposite sides of Swanage, not easily accessible by people without a car. She asked the Residents Association to pursue a suggestion that a central location be found, perhaps in Leo's car park.
5.2 Wheelie bins
Comment made that some other councils have done away with green boxes, providing two wheelie bins instead.
Comment that there seem to ambulances all day long coming from Corfe. Is there a problem with cover? R.Owen noted that an ambulance is based at Corfe to be more centrally positioned to serve Purbeck.
John Leach noted that no decision had yet been reached on the planning appeal. (Reports that Inspector has since turned down developers appeal)
5.5 Alcohol in public places
John Leach noted that this new Order was not designed to stop law-abiding people from enjoying their picnics, but was another tool for the police to prevent anti-social behaviour.
5.6 Community Safety
Karen Jaggs, Purbeck Community Safety Officer, spoke about the 'Working Together' scheme, involving a variety of bodies working together against crime, drugs, drink, discrimination, violence, etc and urged anyone to call her on 01929 557387 if they want to discuss any issues.
6 Next meetings
Committee meeting: Wednesday 28 September, 7.30 pm, at Rowland's house, 6 Argyle Road. Quarterly meeting: Monday 17 October, 7.30pm at the Mowlem committee room.
7 John Leach thanked PC Dick Clapp for joining the meeting, for his presentation and for answering questions; thanked residents for coming; and closed the meeting. The committee would also like to thank Phyllis Denton and Ida Verney for preparing the refreshments.