Agenda item

Safer Guildford Partnership Annual Report 2022-23

To review the Partnership’s recent activities and its draft future priorities.


Councillor Carla Morson, Lead Councillor for Community and Organisational Development, introduced this item explaining that the Council had a statutory duty to work alongside partners to develop and implement strategies to reduce crime and disorder in the Borough.  This was achieved via the Safer Guildford Partnership (SGP) which was overseen by the SGP Executive.  Responsible authorities also carried a statutory duty to report to a scrutiny committee for crime and disorder which in Guildford Borough was fulfilled by presenting the Partnership’s Annual Report to this Committee.


The report outlined some of the key achievements during 2022/23, including the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Pledge, domestic abuse training and public webinars, implementation of the town centre Public Spaces Protection Order, launch of the Safer Communities Programme, the SGP training programme, and funding in respect of Partnership projects.


The SGP 3 Year Plan 2021-2024 set out the framework for Partnership priorities which had been agreed in 2021.  These sought to raise awareness of domestic abuse and the related support available; reduce and prevent community harm; protect people from serious harm such as terrorism, organised crime and youth violence; and raise awareness of community support available to those facing community safety issues.


The 2023/24 Action Plan had been drafted in response to the above priorities and identified actions to achieve the priorities through Partnership joint working.  Consultation in respect of the draft Action Plan was taking place.  The South West Surrey Domestic Abuse Outreach Service had expressed a wish for Partnership Support and the local adoption of the Surrey Gold Standard Coercive and Controlling Behaviour Framework to be included as part of a priority.  The Action Plan also included the continuity of a number of the 2022/23 actions in addition to extending the subject areas covered by the Partnership’s annual training programme and consultation in respect of preparation for the next 3 year Action Plan 2024-2027.  Any feedback in respect of the Partnership’s activities and achievements during 2022/23 as detailed in the Annual Report were welcomed.


The following points arose from ensuing questions, comments, and discussion:


·                 Although there had been an unprecedented increase in domestic abuse referrals to the Outreach Service during Covid lockdowns, the number had now stabilised.  It was thought that the rise was a result of wider awareness of the Service following publicity campaigns as opposed to more incidents of domestic abuse.


·                 Information relating to the gender breakdown of victims of domestic abuse would be sought.  It was advised that the Outreach Service offered specialised support to all sectors of the community through various projects.


·                 The availability of future funding to support the SGP was subject to review.


·                 The SGP had a communications pledge which was supported by all partners who shared their social media promotional campaigns.  It was agreed that it would be beneficial to extend the circulation of such material to councillors to enable them to share it more widely with residents.


·                 The Action Plan proposed for 2024 onwards was similar to that of previous years as it was aligned to the priorities contained in the existing three year Plan covering 2021 to 2024 which were operating successfully.  As 2024 was the last year of the current Plan, its priorities would be subject to review and consultation in the near future.  The Plan for 2024 included a number of additions to reflect emerging legislation including the Protect Duty and the Serious Violence Duty.


·                 Issues regarding drug use and rural crime were raised and the Committee was advised that these factors could be considered as part of the consultation in respect of the next set of priorities.  The Joint Action Group (JAG) was a forum for raising such issues of concern as they emerged.  In the event that an area was referred to the JAG, relevant ward councillors were welcome to attend the specific meeting for consideration of that particular item if they wished.  Also, councillors were able to make a referral to the JAG via an accessible on-line form and would be invited to a meeting to discuss the matter if it was pursued for consideration.

·                 Although some focused partnership work to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour in Ash and Kingston Meadows, East Horsley, had been undertaken, at present Guildford town centre was the main area of attention owing to related concerns and was the subject of a specific project.  The Public Space Protection Order covered the issue of drug use in the town centre.


·                 In response to a concern raised in respect of County Lines, the Committee was advised that there had been a reduction in this form of drug distribution in Guildford.  The reasons were felt to be an increased awareness of the issue and improved police intelligence operations to target offenders and identify victims.  County Lines was a focus of the Serious Organised Crime JAG where related issues and referral routes were highlighted with partners in the interests of preventing and addressing the issue.  Also, there was increased support and safeguarding measures in place to assist the young and vulnerable people involved.  Whilst resources to tackle County Lines were limited, the matter remained a priority for the police and a National County Lines Intensification Week with additional targeted activities across the Borough and the County was planned for early October 2023.


·                 The work of the SGP was currently delivered within available resources which included the involvement of partners.


Gratitude to the SGP was expressed in recognition of its work.



Supporting documents: