This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Adding depth to crime data in our funny old world

Last night, I travelled to Aylesbury for an evening "Have Your Say" meeting with the Thames Valley PCC, one Anthony Stansfeld. Also in attendance and on the panel was the Deputy PCC, David Carroll, the new Local Area Commander, Supt Gez Chiariello, his deputy CI Olly Wright, and the Community Safety Manager for AVDC, Kay Aitken.

There were 7 members of the public present. Although another person joined towards the end of the meeting.

The panel talked at us for over an hour. We sat patiently listening to them having their say.

We then got to ask a few questions which ranged from Aylesbury town centre safety and the role of the local Neighbourhood Action Group, whether there was endemic corruption in Thames Valley Police associated with tackling organised crime and how to get funding for programmes to divert young people from crime. I went prepared (as you might expect) with a number of questions.

I chose to highlight he fact that while Aylesbury Vale is a relatively low crime area, there are some significantly worrying trends in the wrong direction with certain types of crime. We then got into an interesting and useful debate, albeit briefly, about how raw data on crimes recorded could be coloured by adding in degree of harm to victims. For example, a "burglary dwelling" which resulted in the loss of an irreplaceable and treasured heirloom versus a "burglary non dwelling" loss of a drill from a farm shed both add '1' to the crime figures. The published data simply does not have the real depth and 'colour' about harm. (Which of course then begs the question about resource deployment across the Thames Valley...)

Before we went onto the next question, the PCC said "good question" and looked reflective.

After the meeting broke up, both the Deputy PCC came over to me to seek my thoughts on how they might get to hear from more young people. (Or even just younger people as I reckon the average age last night was well over 50). A short while later the PCC wandered over too. We talked and I suggested that even if a young person had turned up they would probably have left after ten minutes of being talked at (I nearly did). I also suggested that if they wanted to engage with younger people then they had to go to them, where they are: in schools, youth clubs, pubs even.

So there we were, the three of us, talking about community engagement and how to do it better.

It is a funny old world really...

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