Members of the Board of Trustees
Erin Scott, Volunteer and Watch Liaison officer
1. CHAIRMAN’S WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS:
The chairman opened the meeting at 7.30pm and thanked everyone for attending. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he explained that the items on the distributed agenda would be in a different order.
2. GUEST SPEAKER:
Our first speaker was Detective Inspector Rob Huddleston, Tactical Advisor for Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking of the Serious Crime Directorate, Kent and Essex Police. DI Huddleston started by showing a short film explaining what is meant by the term ‘Modern Slavery’. It concerns the exploitation of people from poorer countries who are trafficked from Eastern Europe or Africa and who are put to work in various settings for criminal gangs who make money from their labour while the workers themselves are kept in poverty.
These individuals are not aware of what will really happen to them when they think they are coming to this country to better themselves. Instead they are put to work in a variety of settings such as working in a factory, or in domestic servitude, on farms, or as prostitutes. They may be seen in the hand car washes or in nail bars. They have to work long hours, and are always ‘indebt’ to the traffickers who continue to control them by threat of violence to their families and by withdrawal of passports.
Victims of modern slavery are fearful of law enforcement, because police in their own countries are corrupt. They fear violence, have their movements restricted, have poor living accommodation, which is often overcrowded, and are reluctant to engage with others outside of their circle. In short they are trapped in their situation and see no way out.
The police have a modern slavery strategy, in which they seek to identify, disrupt and prosecute these practices. One strategy is to talk
to schoolchildren in Romania to make them aware so they are not taken in. However they also rely on information received from the public. DI Huddleston asked us to be aware of what might be going on around us and report our suspicions, either through Crime Stoppers on 0800555111 or the Modern Slavery number 08000121700. The problem is widespread with 10 – 15000 victims within the UK although the speaker thought this number was actually much higher.
3. REFRESHMENT BREAK:
We stopped for a 20min break, during which raffle tickets were purchased and the promotional stand visited.
4. GUEST SPEAKER:
Our second speaker was the Mayor of Medway, Councillor David Wildey, Councillor Wildey, gave us an insight into his busy life as Mayor of Medway. First off he talked about his chain of office; its history and the meaning of the medallions on the chain. He wears this chain when he attends all civic duties. As the first citizen of Medway, his duties include acting as chairman at all full council meetings, and meeting all visiting dignitaries from this country and abroad. He is Admiral of the River from Hawkwood to the Swale Estuary and commanders of visiting ships come to meet him when they visit during which there is usually an exchange of small gifts such as ties, cufflinks or paperweights. He also attends special church services at the cathedral, for example for the ordination of vicars.
In fact he promotes many Medway events by his attendance, giving us a long list of such events that he had attended over the past week. His choices of charities for his year in office are McMillan cancer care, Samaritans and Magic that helps autistic children.
5. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT:
Chairman David Duncombe regretted that there was a drop in the numbers of coordinators in Medway. He speculated that this could be due to a number of issues, for example, existing coordinators standing down because of ill health, or moving house and being unable to find a replacement. Possibly something as simple as existing coordinators changing their email address or phone number and failing to pass this on to the WLO, or people leading busy lives and thinking they have no time to start a NhWatch in their road.
The Association presented another successful conference this year, but again attendance numbers were down. However feedback from those who attended was very positive and suggestions for improvement will be acted upon where possible for future conferences.
The Association held its first promotional event this year recently at Halling village fete. He hoped that more will follow and asked for volunteers to help with the stand. Lastly he thanked everyone for their patience following the breakdown of the KCM messaging service and hoped the new system would be up and running soon
6. CHAIRMAN’S PRESENTATION OF THE JOHN REED MEMORIAL AWARD 2017:
The John Reed award is presented each year to someone who shows exceptional commitment and enthusiasm to Medway NhWatch. The award this year was presented to Merlyn Smith.
Mr Smith has been a coordinator for 20 years in Childscroft Road. He was nominated as someone who makes himself aware of the needs of his residents, and has dealt with the council on their behalf over parking issues and the reinstatement of bus routes. He always welcomes new residents personally, and gives them a NhWatch information pack.
An example of his commitment and diligence was when a resident reported a light on, day and night in an elderly lady’s house, which was unusual for her. After making enquiries he was able to contact her son who informed him that the lady was staying with him while building work was being carried out. The builders had forgotten to switch the light off.
Chairman David Duncombe presented Mr Smith with an engraved shield and certificate, to keep. Hi name will be engraved on a larger shield, which is retained in the NhWatch office.
7. TREASURER’S REPORT:
David Duncombe, Acting Treasurer presented the Association’s financial report for the year ending 30th June 2017, (a copy of which is filed with these minutes.) Overall the accounts were in a very healthy position considering that there are no outside funding contributors. He added that if anyone wanted a copy of the annual breakdown of expenditure they should contact him.
He explained that he was not an accountant himself and took over the role as a temporary arrangement following the death of the previous treasurer. He asked if there was anyone present or if anyone knew of someone with accounting skills who would be interested in either taking on the role or helping him out as although he does the accounts to the best of his ability, he sometimes struggles with the legal aspects of the task. The report was proposed by Mike Franklin (Castle Road) and seconded by Bernard White (The Ridgeway).
8. GUEST SPEAKER:
Our third speaker was Chief Superintendent Tim Smith Divisional Commander North Division, Kent Police. Chief Supt Smith started by expressing his gratitude for the efforts of the NhWatch coordinators. He then went on to talk of changes to the local policing model, because is now expecting extra help in the form of 7 more PCSOs, who should be in post by the end of the year. He hopes this will free up other officers for more community work.
As it was getting late, he decided to use his time to answer any questions from the floor. The following were the questions asked together with his replies:
Q. In view of recent terrorist incidents, will there be an increase in police carrying firearms?
A. Yes more officers are to be trained in the use of firearms, such as are already present at Bluewater and Canterbury City Centre. Some officers are already carrying tasers.
Q. Are the police still responding to burglaries?
A. Yes this is considered a serious crime, so there will be a police response.
Q. What about acid attacks?
A. Not a lot that police can do to prevent these attacks, which are still rare in Kent.
Q. Any evidence of increase in illegal stun guns coming in from France?
A. No none. There are severe penalties associated with ownership of these.
Q. Are the police able to crack down on parking offences?
A. Police will only become involved if vehicle parking considered dangerous, otherwise it is the responsibility of the local council.
9.NOMINATIONS AND ELECTIONS OF TRUSTEES 2017/2018:
The following Trustees stood for re-election and were voted in en-bloc:
David Duncombe, Maria Jarvis, Mark Botting, Gloria Faram, Tony Faram, Adrianne Kinloch, George McCarthy, Rosemary Roberts and
Frank Watton. Ian Sears has stood down.
Proposed by Ann Reid (Windermere Drive) Seconded (Derek Tovey)
10.WATCH LIAISON OFFICER’S REPORT:
Erin Scott thanked coordinators for attending this evening. She expressed her gratitude towards the speakers who had given up their time to make the evening informative and interesting and hoped that the coordinators had found it useful.
She explained in detail about the problems with the old KCM messaging system. She was pleased to report that she had tested a new system and it found to be fit for purpose. It is now in the process of being approved by the IT dept before purchase.
She echoed the Chairman’s request for volunteers to assist on the promotional stand This would be a small time commitment of only a couple of hours once or twice a year.
She then talked about the Nominated Neighbour Scheme. This is a scheme that protects elderly and vulnerable people from exploitation from cold calling doorstep sales people. For example, instead of engaging with the person on the doorstep the elderly person has a list of people she/he can phone who would be willing to speak to the person on his/her behalf. She asked if anyone knew of someone who would benefit from this scheme, to come and see her.
Erin reminded those present of the Quiz night on the 22nd September. She also asked for written contributions for the Watchword Newsletter. Lastly she thanked everyone for their continued support of Neighbourhood Watch and looked forward to the next year of working together.
11. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE:
2 apologies were received
12. MINUTES OF AGM 2016:
Copies of the minutes were distributed. The minutes were accepted as a true reflection of that meeting, and were proposed by Derek Tovey and seconded by Mike Franklin
13. MATTERS ARISING:
There were no matters arising from the Minutes.
14. RAFFLE DRAW:
The Chairman thanked everyone for supporting the raffle. Erin Scott drew the tickets and prizes were distributed
There was none.
15. CLOSE OF MEETING
David Duncombe thanked everyone for attending and for those who helped the meeting run smoothly. The meeting closed at 21.30