Cambridge Community Safety Partnership met on the 29th of October 2013.
The most notable thing in my view was the complete absence of any elected representatives. Cambridge has 56 councillors (42 City and 14 County) but none attended this key meeting at which the police, and other bodies, report their performance agains the city wide police priorities. Police and Crime Commissioner Graham Bright wasn’t present, nor as far as I could see did he send a representative.
City Councillor Tim Bick, who represents elected city councillors on the partnership was absent with apologies, but without explanation.
Without elected representatives to challenge the officers the meeting appears pointless to me; officers give their reports but there is no-one to challenge them on their content.
I have written a separate article on one matter raised in the meeting papers:
I have also written separately about a “clarification” given by the police in relation to the use of TASER by non-firearms police in Cambridge.
I used the public speaking slot at the meeting to ask:
1. I would like to make all members of the partnership aware
that at the last meeting of the partnership on the 23rd of July 2013 one of
the officers who had presented a report to the meeting approached me
in the public seating and asked me not to tweet, or report on, her
contribution to the meeting. My view is this was an inappropriate way
for an officer to behave during a public meeting. I mentioned what
had happened to the chair after the meeting and was told the officer
might not have been aware there were members of the public observing.
I don’t think the act of observing a meeting ought have an impact on
what is said.
I have written more about this occurrence at:
[I successfully placed this occurrence formally in the public domain].
2. A paper was mentioned, and discussed, during item 7 “Feedback from
the Star Chambers” at the July 2013 meeting of the partnership. I
requested the paper after the meeting, it was not provided, but I was
told by the chair consideration would be given to publishing it.
Particularly given the lack of public information about the
Commissioner’s secretive, private, Star Chambers events I think it
would be useful to publish it.
[I received a commitment to publish the document]
4. I’d like to draw to the CSP’s attention the fact that the way the
data sharing website Ecins has been described to the CSP is at odds
with the way the Police and Crime Commissioner has been describing it,
including to the Police and Crime Panel. The Commissioner repeatedly
assures “it just identifies the person and the partner which has an
interest in them”; ie. it doesn’t contain, or enable sharing of, any
personal or case information.
[I received a response suggesting the Community Safety Partnership believe what they have been told is accurate]
5. I would like to suggest the response from the magistrates on the
subject of openness and transparency of the courts is published. It
is unclear to me if the note in CSP meeting papers means Cambridge’s
magistrates are now lobbying the courts service to publish their lists
online. I note what is published in relation to Crown Courts is far
from the full court list and the concerns raised with the magistrates
were not only about court lists but other aspects of accessibility and
[I was told the response from the magistrates would be published]
6. I find it astonishing that the partnership continues to refuse to
list those agencies not represented at its meetings in its minutes. I
think listing the absentees would help encourage attendance.
[I was given an explanation, that the partnership consider listing absentees would be confrontational.]
There was an interesting occurrence at the start of the meeting; when despite the partnership having agreed to allow filming at its meetings the chair asked my to declare when I was starting and stopping filming. I declined to do this as the partnership set no such restrictions when bringing in permission to film its meetings and I could not see how it would be possible to comply with such a ruling without being disruptive.
The chair appeared to back down from her ruling when I appeared not to be keen to comply with it.
This is the kind of shenanigans any new law on filming local government meetings will have to be drafted to avoid; meeting chairs must not be able to impose extra rules which will make it hard to film without being disruptive, and so liable to being thrown out.
- Meeting papers (PDF)