Glastonbury & Street Green Party

Archive for Avon and Somerset Police

Green Mayor meets Police Commander

Mayor of Glastonbury, Green Councillor Jon Cousins writes: On Wednesday 23rd November, I met with Chief Inspector Mark Edgington – Local Policing Commander for the Avon & Somerset Constabulary’s East Somerset Division – at Glastonbury Town Hall.

BACKGROUND
As with meeting the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens in October, the background to meeting with the Chief Inspector has been my attempt to help address the increasing anti-social behaviour that Glastonbury’s community has been suffering – the intimidation, drunkenness, racial and verbal abuse, and open drug dealing that so many members of our community have raised with me – a situation which has escalated with an attempted murder on 14th September, followed by a second serious assault on 28th October – both incidents were stabbings; both occurred in broad daylight; both happening within yards of one of our schools…

IMPACT OF POLICE FUNDING CUTS:
The other background factor, which Sue Mountstevens had been very candid about, is the impact of the austerity funding cuts imposed by central government on the Police service as a whole, and the fact that Avon and Somerset has been intentionally ‘dampened’ – provided with less resources than other constabularies, resulting in £14 million ‘missing’ from the budget; which means 350 fewer officers, PCSOs and staff than the average!

'Disaster' worries as drugs service moves out of town CSG 6th October 2016'Disaster' worries as drugs service moves out of town – Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016

‘Disaster’ worries as drugs service moves out of town – Central Somerset Gazette, 6th October 2016.

THE MEETING:
Mark Edgington came to the Town Hall with Inspector Mark Nicholson of Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Police Team, and they met with me and the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Emma George to explore the proposed options to help the situation in Glastonbury – resulting from my meeting with the PCC.

1) The deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street.
The Chief Inspector reiterating the message of the PCC – the Force has undergone major efficiency savings as a result of ‘Austerity’, and – in addition – will need to make further savings of £5½million… all of which has had, and will have, an understandable impact on resources and operations.

I observed that the biggest response I’ve received from Glastonbury residents was their concern around the lack of a visible police presence – and the feeling that this lack has contributed directly to the rise in the incidents and problems we are facing as a community.

This was something highlighted during my consultation in September, and, as a result, Cllr George and I had previously discussed the deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street with Inspector Nicholson and our local Police Team’s Sargent Slade.

Mark Edgington confirmed that under the Force’s new ‘Police & Crime Plan’ (2016-2020), Neighbourhood Policing was a priority; “meaning visibility on the streets.”

2) The developing a Street Pastor team.
We discussed the potential of a Street Pastor team to work as part of a multi-agency approach to addressing the anti-social behaviour. Mark Edgington was fully behind this initiative, and we agreed that this would be a useful option for the newly convened Glastonbury Multi-Agency Meeting to develop.

3) Crimestoppers.
Mark Edgington endorsed the PCC’s assertion that people who are worried about reporting crimes and incidents because they fear reprisals should use this anonymous, independent service – which is not part of the police.
Find out more about Crimestoppers HERE.

4) Volunteers for Special Constables.
Mark Edgington felt that there was merit in promoting the Special Constabulary in Glastonbury; enabling people who felt strongly about the situation to volunteer for the Force. I mentioned that Cllr George and I would be meeting with the Special Chief Inspector Roger Ball and Special Constabulary Co-ordinator Katie Hancock later that day.
Find out more about volunteering for the Special Constabulary HERE.

£1 per month to keep town safe? – the front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016

£1 per month to keep town safe? – the front page of the Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016.

5) The ‘Precept’ funding a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO).
The final option we discussed was the potential for Glastonbury to fund an additional Police Community Support Officer for the town through the Parish Precept (the amount of the Council Tax that goes to Town and Parish Councils).

This is something I’ve encouraged residents to comment on – through the Central Somerset Gazette and via social media. Feedback has been largely positive, but with the specific condition that a PCSO paid for by Glastonbury would be on duty only in Glastonbury; providing a visible presence in the town – not constantly being called away to other areas.

Mark Edgington and Mark Nicholson confirmed that the Town Council could fund a dedicated Glastonbury PCSO – recalled that PCSO Mel Rowlands was originally funded as a Glastonbury specific support officer.

They confirmed that:
Although a PCSO does not have the power of arrest, they play a vital role, being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the community – feeding intelligence to the Neighbourhood Team’s Police Officers.”

PCSOs can deal with vulnerable people and – with regard to the new Public Space Protection Orders – they have the power to issue dispersal notices and warnings.”

A key element of the PCSO role is to problem solve with partners as well as responding to calls for service. This is important as being a good problem solver means that our officers treat the cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. If a Glastonbury ‘One Team’ emerges from the current Multi-Agency Meetings, a new PCSO, paid for by Glastonbury, could undertake a co-ordinating role, helping to support the town’s areas of multiple deprivation.”

Several Town Councillors have wondered if a PCSO could assist with parking enforcement. Mark Nicholson confirmed that a PCSO can issue parking tickets to a car parked on a double yellow line if it is accompanied by an obstruction. The inspector went on to say, “PCSOs can issue tickets on behalf of other agencies (such as ‘NSL’) and I have an enquiry with them to see if that could be done for the Glastonbury PCSO.”

The Chief Inspector told us that “in terms of where a Glastonbury funded PCSO would start and finish their duty – what police station they book on and collect their equipment – I am unable to say with any certainty, but for the time being they would start at Street.” (N.B. Glastonbury Town Council may be able to provide an alternative ‘start and finish’ location for the new PCSO in Glastonbury).

Whilst Chief Inspector said that, in exceptional circumstances – “if there was a danger to life and limb and no other officer was available” – he would need to call away a PCSO to another area, he guaranteed that:

  • If a new PCSO is being paid for by Glastonbury, they will be working in Glastonbury for their tour of duty; not servicing other towns.”
  • A new PCSO paid for by Glastonbury would be in addition to the current Neighbourhood Police Team. We would not be looking to remove anyone already here.”
  • If the Town Council decided to fund a new PCSO, the Avon & Somerset Constabulary would provide a 30% abatement of the Cost Recovery Total, so essentially the Glastonbury would fund the Total Direct Cost.”

At the Town Council’s Finance & General Purposes Committee meeting on 29th November 2016, it was established that a Glastonbury funded Police Community Support Officer would add £11 to the Council Tax per band ‘D’ dwelling in Glastonbury – less than £1 per month.

Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury
Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
jonfcousins@hotmail.com

Search for solutions to problems that have been a blight on town – Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016

Search for solutions to problems that have been a blight on town – Central Somerset Gazette, 10th November 2016.

Green Mayor meets Police & Crime Commissioner

Mayor of Glastonbury, Green Councillor Jon Cousins writes: On Tuesday 18th October, I met with Sue Mountstevens – the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – at Glastonbury Town Hall.

BACKGROUND
The background to our meeting has been my attempt to help address the increasing anti-social behaviour that our community has been suffering for quite some time – the intimidation, drunkenness, racial and verbal abuse, and open drug dealing that so many of you have raised with me – a situation which came to a head with the serious assault near St. John’s Church on 14th September…

In preparation for the meeting, I’ve had several conversations with the local Police Beat Team; and the Deputy Mayor and I also met with Sergeant Slade and Inspector Nicholson… I also talked with an Area Commander, and I can tell you that – from Constable to Commander – I received the same response to my questioning:

The force seriously lacks resource; six years of cuts to the Police budget mean a loss of apparently 600-700 officers to the Avon and Somerset Constabulary…

13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the PCC.

On 13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

On 13th September, I also asked you – Glastonbury’s community – for your thoughts on what I should raise with the PCC; to tell me your concerns; your issues; your ideas. I received lots of feedback from you, and I took a long list of the issues you raised to the meeting.

Finally, in the week before I met with Sue Mountstevens, I helped to arrange and took part a ‘multi agency’ meeting about crime in the town – with representatives from the police, town and district council, a number of support services, the PACT team, and the Church. This was very productive, and also gave me further points to raise.

THE MEETING:
Sue Mountstevens came to the Town Hall with her Staff Officer, Detective Sergeant Ashley Jones, and met with me and the Deputy Town Clerk, Gerard Tucker.

‘Give us back our town’ front page – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

‘Give us back our town’ front page – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR:
Not surprisingly, the first issue we discussed was anti-social behaviour; the main concern for so many of us in the town. I asked the PCC why there was a lack of a visible police presence in Glastonbury; why there was not a beat officer patrolling, on foot, up and down the streets in the centre of our town? Many of you had fed-back that you felt the lack of police presence contributed to the rise of anti-social behaviour over the summer.

Part of Sue Mountsteven’s response was a practical point – since PC Mark Pople moved to Street, Glastonbury’s Police Beat Team has been short staffed, with a number of officers coming into post and leaving again… However, the good news for Glastonbury is that Sergeant Martha Spikes – who previously worked in the town a few years ago – has transferred from Wells to join the local team.

The PCC also confirmed that in the future, Inspector Nicholson would be able to re-deploy officers to a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street – something would certainly be prioritised next summer. However, the PCC did comment that with the reductions in the police budget officers could still be called away to other areas if required.

She informed us that the new Public Space Protection Orders – which Mendip District Council are currently developing – would also provide Glastonbury with a number of additional ‘Enforcement Officers’, who would work for the District Council.

We discussed the ‘multi-agency’ approach; particularly the work of the ‘One Team’ in dealing with troubled families and individuals. The PCC was pleased to hear about the meeting of the multi-agency group in Glastonbury the week before. One of the points raised at the Glastonbury multi-agency meeting was the proven effectiveness of ‘Street Pastors’ in dealing with street drinkers, addicts, and anti-social behaviour in Bristol. Sue Mountstevens told us about possible funding available to support Street Pastors team in our town.

‘Vicar: “This is worst I have known the High Street to be”.’ & ‘Mayor calls for more visible police presence’ – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

‘Vicar: “This is worst I have known the High Street to be”.’ & ‘Mayor calls for more visible police presence’ – Central Somerset Gazette, 22nd September 2016.

INCREASE IN DRUG DEALING:
Another issue that many of you are concerned about is the increase in drug dealing in the town – particularly of the most harmful and addictive Class A drugs, like heron and cocaine. This is something that the Police are fully aware of, however, as the PCC reiterated, without residents reporting incidents, there is a disconnect between police intelligence and local knowledge.

We discussed the fact that many people who have got in touch with me about witnessing crimes – such a drug dealing – are scared to report these incidents to the Police for fear of reprisal. Sue Mountstevens understood people’s reticence, and reminded me about Crimestoppers – the national confidential reporting charity (independent to the police) to which the public can make truly anonymous reports about any criminal activity of any kind. This seemed like a very useful option, and I am providing a link HERE for anyone who is interested:

HEALTH AND WELLBEING:
We discussed issues around health and wellbeing, and the impact on policing from cuts in the support services for people with mental ill health, for the homeless, for vulnerable people, for addicts.

I mentioned the recent closure of Turning Point’s centre at the Old Library; the County Council’s cutbacks to the drug and alcohol service – this was an area that Sue Mountstevens was obviously passionate about, and she was not impressed by Somerset County Council’s performance. She said that as a result of the increased impact of mental ill health on the police service, she had placed professional mental health workers into the police call centres. Apparently, the only large authority in the Constabulary’s area not to financially support this service is Somerset County Council… !

I was amazed to hear the PCC talk about how 86% of the incidents Avon and Somerset deal with are not crime related – e.g. mental health incidents, safeguarding, and missing persons! I was shocked to discover that in the Avon and Somerset area, there are over 5,000 missing persons – many of them children…

IMPACT OF POLICE FUNDING CUTS:
Sue Mountstevens was very candid about the impact of the austerity funding cuts imposed by central government on the Police service as a whole, and that Avon and Somerset had been intentionally ‘dampened’ – provided with less resources than other constabularies, resulting in £14 million ‘missing’ from the budget; which means 350 fewer officers, PCSOs and staff than the average! Apparently, the PCC doesn’t have the power to set the amount of funding, and couldn’t explain why Avon and Somerset has seen a disproportionately low amount of funding!

I explained to the PCC that I was very disappointed to hear, from every level of the force – from Constable to Commander to Commissioner – about lack of resources. I asked: “If you are not responsible for funding the Police, who is?” “Brandon Lewis”, she replied, “the Policing and Fire Minister…

I will attempt to arrange a meeting with Brandon Lewis MP, he threatened to come and see me earlier this year, but he pulled out at the last minute…

SOLUTIONS:
In concluding our meeting, we discussed a number of options which might help the situation in Glastonbury.

1) as mentioned above, the deployment of officers for a ‘permanent’ day-time police presence in the High Street;

2) developing a Street Pastor team, to work as part of a multi-agency approach to addressing the anti-social behaviour;

3) encouraging people who are concerned about reporting crimes and incidents, for fear of reprisal, to use Crimestoppers

4) Special Constables – residents who have had enough, and would like to make a difference, could apply to join the Special Constabulary… There are apparently vacancies for over 300 Specials in Avon and Somerset! I have asked the PCC to contact the Special Constabulary Coordinator in respect to recruiting for Special Officers in the Glastonbury area, and to make a closer collaboration with the Town Council and Special Constabulary

5) Finally, there is the potential for Glastonbury to fund an additional PCSO post for the town… However, that is something I would like to know your thoughts on…

With regard to a Glastonbury funded PCSO:
a) there has already been some discussion by the Council’s Town Centre Working Group about funding a private security firm to ‘police’ Glastonbury…
b) until 2002, Glastonbury Town Council used to annually fund Glastonbury Fire Station’s second Fire Engine…
c) a Glastonbury PCSO, funded through the Council Tax would probably cost each household around £1 per month…

What do you think? Is £1 a month worth a dedicated Glastonbury PCSO?

I look forward to your comments.
Jon

Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury
Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
jonfcousins@hotmail.com

Community invited to ‘Have Your Say’!

13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the PCC.

13th September 2016, Green Mayor invites Glastonbury’s community to ‘Have Your Say’ to the PCC.

Dear Glastonbury community,
I have made arrangements to meet with Sue Mountstevens (the Police and Crime Commissioner for our area) in October – and would like to know what issues you feel should be raised with her about policing and crime in Glastonbury.
If you would like to share your thoughts and concerns, please send me an e-mail to jonfcousins@hotmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Cllr Jon Cousins
Mayor of Glastonbury

Glastonbury Council, St. Edmund’s Ward
Town Hall, Magdalene Street, Glastonbury,
Somerset. BA6 9EL
jonfcousins@hotmail.com

 

PCC results: “a platform to build for future successes!”

Chris Briton by Charlotte

Thank you to the 23,414 people who voted Chris Briton for PCC.

Chris – who received a fantastic vote in Bristol and in Mendip – came sixth overall, only 15 votes behind the LibDem…!

Interviewed by the press, Chris said: “I see today as a platform to build for future successes. I have been hearing repeated calls of Green votes, which is fantastic news, as it shows we are continuing to raise our profile.”

Sue Mountstevens has been re-elected as Avon and Somerset’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
An Independent candidate, she received a total of 118,547 votes after the stage two count was completed.

Second was Labour’s Kerry Barker with 100,565 votes.

The totalled ‘first choice’ results were:
1) Mountstevens (Ind) – 82,708
2) Barker (Labour) – 75,538
3) Weston (Con) – 61,335
4) Foot (UKIP) – 28,038
5) Crossley (LibDem) – 23,429
6) Briton (Green) – 23,414
7) Phillips (Ind) – 22,667

The Bristol ‘first choice’ results:
1) Barker (Labour) – 47,356
2) Mountstevens (Ind) – 31,394
3) Weston (Con) – 19,201
4) Briton (Green) – 14,578
5) Crossley (LibDem) – 8,970
6) Foot (UKIP) – 8,959
7) Phillips (Ind) – 5,370

The Mendip District ‘first choice’ results:
1) Mountstevens (Ind) – 5,190
2) Weston (Con) – 4,235
3) Barker (Labour) – 2,332
4) Briton (Green) – 1,727
5) Foot (UKIP) – 1,566
6) Phillips (Ind) – 1,503
7) Crossley (LibDem) – 1,459

Full details of the count can be found HERE

The official Avon & Somerset PCC Election’s website is HERE

Photo of Chris Briton © Charlie Pritchard-Williams, used by permission: www.charlottephotography.co.uk
#VoteGreen2016

Green PCC Crowdfunder Success!

Congratulations to Chris Briton and to all those who have supported the successful Crowdfunder, which raised the £5k deposit required for Chris to stand as the Green Party candidate in the Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election on Thursday 5th May. Well Done!

They Did IT

The PCC election will take place on the same day as many local elections across the UK, including the Bristol City Council elections and the Glastonbury St. Benedict’s by-election.  More information about the PCC election can be found HERE.

In response to the recent displays of ‘playground politics’ in the House of Commons, the Green Party has produced an Election Party Broadcast to support the PCC and local election candidates – declaring “It’s time for grown up politics!”

#GrownUpPolitics

Chris Briton selected as Green PCC Candidate

We are delighted to announce that former Green Mayor of Wells, and City Councillor Chris Briton has been selected as the Green Party candidate for the up-and-coming Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner election on Thursday, 5th May 2016.

We need to raise a staggering £5000 (!) in order for Chris to be able to stand… which, in Chris’s own words is “an outrageously huge sum of money, and only allows rich individuals or wealthier parties to contest the election… In my view that’s undemocratic!

If you would like to support Chris, please visit our Crowdfunder page HERE