Yesterday the Minister of State for the Home Department, Kit Malthouse answered a question which had been written by the MP for Arundel and South Downs, Andrew Griffith. The question was brief and the whole answer was too long for this blog, but there were only a few specific elements that reflected on the question. The question was actually directed to Priti Patel but the answer was probably better answered by Kit Malthouse. The question was:
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to tackle county lines drug trafficking in Sussex.
The answer from Kit Malthouse included the following:
This Government is determined to crack down on the county lines gangs who are exploiting our children and have a devastating impact on our communities.
Between 2019 and 2021 we are investing £1.76m for the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner to develop a multi-agency Violence Reduction Unit which brings together police, local government, health and education professionals, community leaders and others to identify the drivers of serious violence, including county lines, and put in place a multi-agency response.
We have also invested £2.2million over 2019 and 2021 to ‘surge’ the operational police response to serious violence in Sussex – this has included collaborative work between Sussex Police and British Transport Police to target county lines activity on the rail network, leading to weapons seizures and arrests of key offenders.
So the follow up question (from me) is what format and which agencies are involved in the Violence Reduction Unit, based on the claim by Kit Malthouse. I checked it up on the website and this is the response which can be seen here.
In January 2020 C.Co were commissioned by the Sussex Violence Reduction Unit to support the compilation and submission of the Sussex Violence Response Unit’s Response Strategy. The production of the Response Strategy involved working with many partner organisations including; West Sussex County Council, East Sussex County Council, Brighton and Hove Council, 12 District Councils; Public Health England, the local CCG’s, the Probation service and the Police.
So my own follow up question is why are there no specific education professionals involved and what about community leaders and “others”. My own view would be to include the voluntary sector agencies from across Sussex. Perhaps they have been involved and were simply missed off the list. Let us hope that C.CO who are linked to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy are willing to respond to my email. In the meantime other people may wish to ask their own questions.
As it happens after I first published this blog I sent a tweet message to a friend of mine called Professor Francis Davis who as it happens is one of the Associate Strategic Advisors for C.CO and according to their website:
Francis has worked in leadership (including CEO) roles across the private, public, university and voluntary sectors and retains a particular interest in SMEs, mid- sized ventures, civil society and inclusive enterprise and their roles and learning contribution to – and from – public service reform, innovation and entrepreneurship.
When he responded to my tweet he stated
“Well done . From.parents and carers of victims too”
His call for parents and carers to be involved is clearly very sensible and we need to find a way of achieving that. I also got a response from another friend of mine, Nick Wilkinson who works for Kent County Council (he used to be an Assistant Chief Constable for Sussex Police when he and I worked together). Nick stated
Different approach in Kent – a wide ranging VRU partnership established and making very good progress – currently focused on refreshing Kent and Medway gangs strategy – joint lead officers from Kent Police and KCC and connected with all relevant partnerships etc
Both of these responses make it very clear that we need a significant step up in Sussex for our VRU. Sadly it is unlikely that Katy Bourne the PCC will be at all bothered to do so. Another friend of mine is Kevin Moore who was also a senior ex Police Officer and his response to my blog was
This is another of Katy Bourne’s pet projects which is costing the tax payers a small fortune! Sadly, all that has been developed is yet another strategy/working group. This money should have been spent on increasing operational policing response to help to tackle the problem. There have been some excellent policing results but I am not sure what positive outcomes there have been from yet another “partnership group”. Not a lot I suspect. Just another meaningless talking shop!!!
I don’t agree with Kevin that this money should be spent on policing, but otherwise his comments have a great deal of accuracy.