Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Wednesday 2 May 2012
10:30 a.m.
Spencer Room

Attendance Details

Councillor F McIntyre (Chair), Councillor C Hobson, Councillor N Hussain, Councillor R Lowes, Councillor P Purvis, Councillor J Sharrocks
E Chicken, P Clark, S Harker and N Harkin.
Apologies for absence:
were submitted on behalf of Councillor L Junier
Declarations of interest:

No Declarations of Interest were made at this point of the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution

The minutes of the meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel held on 11 April 2012 were taken as read and approved as a true record.


The Senior Scrutiny Officer presented a report to provide Members with an outline of the purpose of the meeting, which was to receive an update from the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership in relation to the Domestic Abuse Strategy delivery.


The Panel was also informed that the draft Final Report on the scrutiny investigation into the Coroner's Office was currently being prepared.  A draft of the Report would be sent to all contributors inviting comment on the factual evidence presented.  The Senior Scrutiny Officer also informed Panel that the Chief Constable was establishing a working party to look at the issues and the Director of Legal and Democratic Services had been invited to join the group.


At a meeting on 15 July 2011, Panel had received an update on the finalised Domestic Abuse Strategy and the processes in place to deliver its objectives and action plan.  Members also received an update on the financial arrangements in place for the delivery of the Strategy for the 2011/2012 financial year.


An update from the Safer Middlesbrough Partnerhip in relation to the Domestic Abuse Strategy delivery was presented under four headings as follows:


Prevention and Early Intervention


In terms of prevention and early intervention the main area of work was to establish a training programme and this had now been achieved.  Funding was secured to deliver a six-month training programme between October 2011 and March 2012, which was delivered by My Sister's Place Domestic Violence Service to almost three hundred front-line practitioners.  The programme of training included awareness raising, risk assessment training, awareness of alcohol and domestic violence, and working with perpetrators of abuse.


The Middlesbrough Domestic Violence Forum (MDVF) had taken a lead in developing awareness raising activities within the town.  To date, this had included a multi-agency awareness event for International Women's Day (8 March 2012) and a domestic violence-themed park run which took place on 10 March 2012.  MDVF had also produced and circulated a domestic abuse directory to assist frontline practitioners.


Contact with members of the public had been increased and a survey circulated to ascertain whether people were aware of the services for people suffering from abuse.


A Domestic Violence Conference was planned at the Riverside Stadium on 31 July 2012 as part of the celebrations for the tenth anniversary of My Sister's Place One Stop Shop.


Funding had been secured through the Community Crime Innovation Fund for awareness work to take place directly with community groups and for a Choices Programme for women.  Choices was an eight week group work programme for women only, aimed at improving knowledge around abuse and building interpersonal skills.


Drop-in education sessions were being organised at St Mary's Centre where no appointment was needed.  A leaflet was circulated for Members' information.


Support for Victims and Families


Funding had been secured to continue with the majority of intiatives that were in place in 2011/2012 through a combination of mainstream funding and voluntary sector grant funding.  Middlesbrough Council currently contributed to the following initiatives:

  • Refuge provision.
  • Sanctuary scheme.
  • Domestic Violence Co-ordination Post.
  • Children and Young People's support project.
  • Social work post to support complex families.
  • MARAC administrator.
  • A new purpose built 14-bed refuge facility was opened in November 2011.

The new refuge had opened in Thorntree and was a 14-bed facility with self-contained units including bedroom, living quarters and kitchenette.  The refuge was funded from the Supporting People Grant.


The Sanctuary Scheme involved putting safety measures into a person's home if they did not wish to go into emergency accommodation.  Safety measures could include a security alarm, new locks, or a secure room with a direct link to the police.  Advice and support was provided around people's routines and their support networks alongside the practical measures.  Funding was available until March 2015 through the Housing Budget.


It was confirmed that funding was available for the MARAC Administrator until 2015.


Work with Healthy Relationship Perpetrators


Members of staff from Durham and Tees Valley Probation Service, Harbour Support Services, and Cleveland Police, had commenced an innovative pilot scheme to support families.  They would form a triage response to domestic abuse, co-ordinating a holistic service for both victim(s) and perpetrator.  The overall aim of the pilot was to support earlier intervention where domestic abuse was occurring within families and relationships.  It sought to do this by encouraging perpetrators to complete an eight-week Changes Group Programme, which was an educational and awareness-raising course.  At the same time, a co-ordinated response would be offered to victims (including children) to ensure their safety and well-being and that appropriate services were in place.  Copies of the programme were tabled for Members' information.


Funding had been sourced to support the commissioning of perpetrator group work for the year 2012/2013.  This would be commissioned through a sub group of the Domestic Violence Strategy Group (DVSG) and would aim to ensure that a range of interventions were in place targeted at perpetrators that were encouraging behaviour change.


Protection through the Criminal Justice System


Work continued to try and improve the number of cases that progressed successfully through the Criminal Justice System and the Specialist Domestic Violence Courts (SDVC).  There were a number of difficulties in progressing Domestic Violence cases to Court and improvement required the commitment of a number of agencies.  To date, this work had been driven through the Local Criminal Justice Board (LCJB).  However, due to recent changes in structure this work had lost focus and there was a need to re-channel the approach.  An improvement plan was in place and this area of work continued to be reported through the DVSG.


Current work being developed through the DVSG and MDVF included:


  • Measuring the effectiveness of a domestic violence partnership was extremely difficult as successful outcomes differed for the various agencies tackling the abuse.  The DVSG was currently working on an agreed set of performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of the strategy delivery.
  • Work to complete the domestic violence section of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) had highlighted a number of data gaps that needed improving across the domestic violence partnership.  These gaps were experienced nationally and included better access to health data and social care data.  The DVSG were working on producing a data framework to better inform service need and performance on a more consistent basis.
  • Focus was also being placed on reducing the levels of repeat victimisation in complex cases.  Currently the repeat rate for cases active to the MARAC process stood at 50%.  Development work was on-going with practitioners involved in the MARAC process to look at ways of reducing this rate and to put in place longer term strategies in the more complex cases which were the ones impacting upon this incident rate.
  • Work had started to ensure that stronger links and pathways were in place between domestic violence and substance misuse services, as this is a group that had been shown to be at risk of violence.  Agencies across both sectors had contributed to a joint action plan, which aimed to improve outcomes for clients accessing services through either route.

It was highlighted that it was difficult to measure success, since if the numbers of incidents reported were increasing this could be due to increase awareness of the services available rather than an increase in actual incidents.  A lot of factors contributing to or influencing domestic violence, were stresses about money, substance misuse and the current economic climate.


AGREED as follows that:

  1. the information provided be received and noted.
  2. a further update on the Domestic Abuse Strategy Delivery would be presented to the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel in January 2013.


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