Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Date:
Wednesday 20 March 2013
Time:
10:30 a.m.
Place:
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
McIntyre (Chair), C Hobson (as substitute for J Hobson) Loughborough, J McPartland, J Sharrocks
Officers:
P Clark, S Fletcher, S Harker and S Reynolds
Apologies for absence:
were submitted on behalf of Councillors Brady, J Hobson, Junier, Lowes and P Purvis
Declarations of interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest at this point in the meeting.

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
12/37 MINUTES - COMMUNITY SAFETY AND LEISURE SCRUTINY PANEL - 27 FEBRUARY 2013

The minutes of the meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel held on 27 February 2013 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.

12/38 THE REGULATION OF INVESTIGATORY POWERS ACT 2000 (RIPA)

Members received a presentation on amendments to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIPA) Act 2000 arising from the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

 

RIPA regulated how public authorities undertook covert surveillance or intercepted communications data in order to gain evidence against people who were possibly undertaking serious offences. During the last year the Council had not received any applications for checking peoples’ communications but there had been some surveillance operations across the Authority. There were strong links with Article 8 (Human Rights) under RIPA and peoples’ right to privacy and family life had to be respected.

 

Twenty-four RIPA applications were made during 2012 and sufficient evidence was found in eight of the investigations to take the case further. The areas investigated included cigarette sales/counterfeit goods, anti-social behaviour, benefit fraud and illegal firework sales. To date there had been one application during 2013 and an investigation was ongoing.

 

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 had amended RIPA in two key areas. Covert operations could only be undertaken when the crime being investigated carried a six month custodial sentence and judicial approval was now required. The impact of the changes to the regulations would be minimal in Middlesbrough as the majority of operations were in relation to the sale of cigarettes/counterfeit goods/alcohol to children and did not include low level crimes such as dog fouling and littering.

A new internal process had been established prior to approval being sought from the Magistrates. The role of the Magistrates was to ensure the application was proportionate. It was important for Officers to put all the details in the application for the Court to consider. Officers also needed to ensure that they had used all other alternative methods available to them prior to making an application for covert surveillance.  Applications could also be renewed.   At the present time the Magistrates’ service was free of charge.

 

The Council had a regular session booked in the Courts every Tuesday when RIPA applications could be considered. Applications could also be approved on the same day if urgent.

 

As a result of a report from the Office of Surveillance Commissioner, the Council had established a new management structure for RIPA. Within the Council there was the Senior Responsible Officer, with overall responsibility for the process, the RIPA Co-ordinator, who managed all the operational processes and policies to ensure that applications met the requirements of the Act, and another six Officers who could authorise applications so long as they understood the case. The RIPA Co-ordinator would also provide annual training for the Officers.

 

It was confirmed that CCTV was sometimes used for surveillance but this was covered by the Data Protection Act rather than RIPA. It was also clarified that whilst the Police could listen to both landline and mobile telephone calls, the Local Authority could not.

 

It was highlighted that overt surveillance was also used and people were alerted in writing to the fact that they were going to be monitored. An example was given that parents of children causing anti-social behaviour might receive a warning letter informing them that their children would be monitored by CCTV if efforts were not made to improve their behaviour in public.

 

AGREED that:
 

1. The information presented be received and noted.
2. An example of a warning letter in relation to carrying out surveillance would be circulated to Members of the Panel for information.
 

12/39 DEVELOPMENTS IN LEISURE

At the previous meeting the Panel was informed that Central Services would be undertaking a review in relation to the development of sport and leisure services in Middlesbrough.

 

The Corporate Programme Manager was in attendance to provide an update on the current position with regard to the Review. The Panel was informed that the intention was to consult on the establishment of a sports village at Prissick, produce an up-to-date Playing Pitch Strategy and develop a sports and leisure needs analysis which would inform the future provision required in Middlesbrough. The needs analysis would look at the delivery needs from both a sports and public health point of view and seek a cost effective solution to providing what was required.

 

The Council would be using the services of a Consultant via SCAPE which was an independent national framework that allowed officers to look at documentation without the full tendering processes. The new Local Development Plan would be published by July 2013 and this would incorporate the updated Playing Pitch Strategy as a statutory responsibility. It was anticipated that the leisure needs analysis would be complete by June 2013.

 

Domestic Violence

 

At the last meeting, the Panel had agreed to receive an update on Domestic Violence with regard to budget provision at its meeting on 10 April 2013. The Senior Scrutiny Officer informed Panel that he had been informed that the budget for the next year had been secured and a new Strategy was being developed. It was suggested that the new Strategy when finalised, could be presented to Panel at a future date.

 

Fire Service

 

It was highlighted that under Government plans, it was proposed the North East Fire Service would be privatised by 2014. Owing to the Panel’s remit to scrutinise issues of community safety, it was suggested that the Panel might wish to add this topic to their current Work Programme and invite Members of the Fire Authority to provide outline information on the Government’s proposals to the next Panel meeting.

 

AGREED that:

 

1. The information provided be received and noted.
2. A further update on the Review of sports and leisure provision would be brought to the Panel in June 2013.
3. The revised Domestic Violence Strategy would be presented at a future meeting of the Panel.
4. Members of the Fire Authority would be invited to the next meeting to provide outline information on Government proposals to privatise the Fire Service.

12/40 OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY BOARD UPDATE

The Chair requested that the Panel note the content of the submitted report which provided an update on business conducted at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 27 February 2013 as follows:

  • Attendance of Executive Members at the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
  • Attendance of the Executive Member for Wellbeing, Care and Learning - Children's Services.
  • Executive Feedback on Scrutiny Reports.
  • Future Local Authority Involvement in Academies - Final Report of the Children and Learning Scrutiny Panel.
  • Department of Health Publication - Changes to Health Scrutiny Powers.
  • Scrutiny Panel Progress Reports.

It was highlighted that from 1 April 2013, Local Authorities could decide how to operate their Health Scrutiny. The Overview and Scrutiny Board proposed to continue with the current arrangements and a report would be presented to Council for approval.

 

NOTED

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