Agenda item

Anti-Social Behaviour Policing and Operation Loki


Alison Hernandez (Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner) introduced the item and highlighted the following points:


a)    Anti-social behaviour had come out at a top issue in public surveys;

b)    The report by the Local Government Ombudsman, ‘Out of Order’, discussed how many Councils had failed in their duty regarding anti-social behaviour and the responsibility that Councils had in addressing such behaviour in their communities, even when another agency needed to be referred to for handling it; the oversight must have come from the Local Authority;

c)    Operation Loki is a 4 week sustained campaign aimed at addressing anti-social behaviour in the Safer Streets areas (Exeter, Plymouth, Barnstaple, Truro, Falmouth and Torquay) to enhance existing environmental improvements, including the installation of CCTV and street lighting.

Superintendent Emma Butler-Jones (Head of Prevention Department and Lead for Neighbourhood Policing) added:


d)    In July 2023, the Chief Constable committed a further Police Sergeant and five Police Offers to each basic command unit within Devon and Cornwall which totalled an additional 24 officers to support neighbourhood policing;

e)    PSCO numbers had been maintained with the understanding of the integral role they play in engaging with communities;

f)     A recruitment exercise had recently concluded with 19 PCSOs having graduated, and another phase of recruitment having commenced;

g)    In March and April 2023, Operation Loki, a targeted neighbourhood policing operation, was led in partnership with the Safer Streets areas, focusing on strategic objectives that involved proactive engagement with partners and key stakeholders, visible and proactive policing that utilized intelligence and information to influence policing tactics, with an emphasis on directed action related to Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and anti-social behaviour, whilst also providing an opportunity to engage and connect with local communities to improve public confidence;

h)    Anti-social behaviour had decreased in the target areas but was accompanied by some displacement to surrounding areas;

i)     Acquisitive crime decreased in the target areas without causing displacement to surrounding areas;

j)     In a public survey, 40% of the public had noticed the increase in policing presence on the streets;

k)    Engagement was a fundamental part of the operation with 27,000 members of the public estimated to have been engaged with, not including 1.5 million people reached on Facebook and 400,000 reached on Twitter;

l)     Operation Loki had been adopted as an operation as the response to anti-social behaviour throughout the force; 

m)  An OPCC commissioned van has been used to hold pop up police stations in key areas, this was a valuable asset and tactic in terms of getting to the hearts of the towns and cities and would be a tactic to be deployed in rural communities also;

n)    A bid has been submitted through OPCC’s office to secure funding for two more pop up police stations;

o)    The Community Alert 4 app has given an improved understanding of what is occurring in local areas;

p)    Anti-social behaviour training occurred for both police and partners, with an emphasis on internal training, and the Chief Constable authorised two trainer posts dedicated to neighbourhood training to reinforce this effect.

Alison Hernandez (Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner) added:


q)    Drug seizures reported during the duration of Operation Loki showed cocaine and cannabis being identified of the highest value;

r)    Despite making 156 arrests, the priority was not to arrest but to prevent anti-social behaviour from happening or escalating; success was measured through safeguarding and the reduction of drugs on the street, rather than the number of arrests made;

s)     The plan was to explore how to sustain the Operation year-round, an idea was to identify a task force that could be deployed to areas where there had been a spike in anti-social behaviour;

t)     The implementation and enforcement of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) posed a challenge, as the relationship between the force and councils was undefined regarding responsibilities and whether collaboration would assist in further addressing this issue.

In response to questions, it was explained:


u)    Reporting anti-social behaviour has been challenging because responsibility for noise nuisance, dog fouling, and litter lies with the local authority, while vandalism, graffiti, and aggressive begging were under the jurisdiction of the police, leading to a lack of clarity about whom to report such incidents to;

v)    The Commissioner confirmed the best practice for reporting anti-social behaviour to the police would be to report it centrally and to let the PSCO know, if you could, that it had been reported centrally;

w)   Although 500 officers and PSCO’s had been trained in tools to use for anti-social behaviour the Commissioner agreed that she would look at the Commissioning Attentions Plan around what more needed to be done to help with reporting anti-social behaviour;

x)    Devon and Cornwall Police had been considering the investment in an anti-social behaviour lawyer to assist with handling cases and taking them to court, as well as obtaining banning orders;

y)    To encourage business engagement, there was an understanding that a single portal would be beneficial, and DISC proved to be a valuable asset, saving time and offering the capability to upload CCTV footage and reports swiftly for businesses;

z)    Evidence from Operation Scorpion showed street drinkers played an active part in attracting young people into their drug and drinking culture;

aa)  To sustain Operation Loki, new officers would have to undergo training because recourse had been previously diverted from other areas during the four weeks that Operation Loki was in force, which was noticed by local residents;

bb) The government had a strategy in place called ‘Clear, Hold and Build’ around drug use (clearing it, holding the line to prevent its return and building from that within the community) however this strategy had not yet made a significant impact;

cc)  Clear Hold Build national project was being piloted in Cornwall;

dd)  Local policing teams were often pulled into emergency responses, ensuring 999 responses, which meant they were not always available to stay on top of local community matters.


The Committee agreed to note the report.


Supporting documents: