Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Wednesday 10 April 2013
10:30 a.m.
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough

Attendance Details

McIntyre, (Chair), Junier, Loughborough, Lowes, McPartland, P Purvis
Councillor Brunton, Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board
A Crawford, S Harker and D Jackson
Apologies for absence:
were submitted on behalf of Councillors Brady, J Hobson and J Sharrocks
Declarations of interest:

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

Item Number Item/Resolution

The minutes of the meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel held on 20 March 2013 were taken as read and approved as a correct record.


The Senior Scrutiny Support Officer presented a report to outline the purpose of the meeting which was to receive information regarding the possible mutualisation of Cleveland Fire Brigade.


It had been reported in the press that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had stated that the shift to create a Public Service Mutual (PSM) and allow the Fire Authority to commission services was due to commence in Cleveland next year. The Secretary of State had emphasised that there would be no move, directly or indirectly, to privatise the fire service or allow private firms to run it.


The Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board, who represented Middlesbrough Council on the Fire Authority, provided an overview. Cleveland Fire Authority’s grant funding was based on a formula that was weighted towards population rather than risk. The Fire Authority felt this was unfair and had highlighted to the Government and all local MPs that Middlesbrough was one of the highest risk areas but had one of the lowest populations. However, the present Government would not be reviewing the formula and the Shadow Environment Minister had indicated that a Labour Government would not review it either.


The Fire Authority had made every effort to reduce costs within the Service. The number of operatives on the Pumps had been reduced from five to four and could not be reduced any further. There was little room for manoeuvre in the budget and the Fire Authority was therefore looking at other options, including mutualisation.


It was anticipated that there would be consultation with the public and other agencies, however it was emphasised that no decision had been reached to date. The Chief Executives of Local Authorities in the north east had requested that a regional scrutiny be undertaken at some point.


It was clarified that through mutualisation the Fire and Rescue elements of the Fire Brigade would remain a public body while the prevention elements of the Service would be owned by the employees.


AGREED that:

1. the information provided be received and noted.
2. the Committee would receive an update in relation to mutualisation of the Cleveland Fire Brigade at a future date.


The Senior Scrutiny Officer presented a report to outline the purpose of the meeting which was to address information in relation to the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership and explore the issues associated with the function, performance and accountability of the partnership. 


The Panel met with the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership annually to receive its Strategy and a general update on the major issues.

The Secretary of State made regulation under the Police and Justice Act (Overview and Scrutiny) by giving powers to the Local Authority Scrutiny Committee in 2009, to scrutinise Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) and hold them to account. 


AGREED that the information provided be received and noted.


The Safer Middlesbrough Partnership (SMP) Manager tabled an updated copy of the Executive Summary of the Community Safety Strategic Assessment 2012 and a briefing paper on the Responsible Authorities Group (RAG) for Members’ information.


The SMP was formed in April 2005 with the merging of the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) and the Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT). As part of that process the Responsible Authorities Group (RAG)was convened in line with Government recommendations and to ensure compliance with the Crime and Disorder Act and National Treatment Agency guidelines on commissioning.


Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 placed a statutory duty on local authorities to work with the Police and other partners to reduce and address crime and disorder in their areas. The five identified Responsible Authorities included the Local Authority, Police, Clinical Commissioning Group, Fire and Rescue Services and the Probation Service. There was a requirement for the Responsible Authorities to act as an executive group that was responsible for:


  • preparing and implementing an annual strategic assessment and 3 year partnership plan.
  • having senior representation from each Responsible Authority.
  • ensuring that the Elected Member for Community Safety sat on the group (if that role existed locally).
  • consulting annually with the community re the strategic assessment and partnership plan.

 The National Treatment Agency/Public Health England was not statutory but it was recommended that each locality had a Drug and Alcohol Action Team Executive and a Joint Commissioning Group that were responsible for:


  • Carrying out needs analysis annually.
  • Developing a three-year action plan, updated annually.
  • Implementing services based on effective practice.

 In November 2012, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were elected and they had responsibility for:

  •  Appointing the Chief Constable and holding him/her to account for the running of their force.
  • Setting out a 5 year Police and Crime Plan based on local priorities (developed in consultation with the Chief Constable, communities and others).
  • Setting the annual local precept and annual force budget.
  • Making grants to organisations aside from the Police (including, but not limited to, Community Safety Partnerships.

 It was also anticipated that the PCC would have some jurisdiction over the commissioning of local criminal justice related services.


It was expected that these roles and functions would continue in new structures being developed within the NHS and criminal justice systems but would report back via different processes, details of which were shown in the submitted report.


As part of the NHS re-organisation, Public Health had moved into the Local Authority in April 2013. Within this process, drug and alcohol commissioning and services had moved into the Public Health systems at a national and local level but would then need to be fully integrated with wider public health processes.


The Community Safety Strategic Assessment had recently been presented to the SMP RAG and an updated copy of the Executive Summary was tabled for Members’ information. The Assessment presented the findings of an analysis of adult crime and disorder in Middlesbrough, considered trends over the past three years and outlined future trends and challenges. There were several themes including performance, costs of crime, drug testing, alcohol arrest referral and alcohol-related crime, town centre safety, neighbourhood safety, victimisation and repeat victimisation, domestic violence, offending and re-offending. The key findings and recommendations from each theme were cross-referenced and summarised under the headings of Victim, Offender, Location and Cross-Cutting Issues.




Members voiced concerned that the Assessment claimed that there continued to be an absence of data regarding incidents of anti-social behaviour within the Local Authority. It was suggested that this type of information was readily available to Ward Councillors and Community Councils from the Police. The SMP Manager agreed that the Police did hold such information however the issue was that the Local Authority systems needed to be improved to ensure that all data was fully integrated. The SMP currently relied on the Police to provide this information.


The Manager confirmed that action was being taken to develop a system that could automatically identify repeat callers and repeat victims across partner organisations, so that protection of the most vulnerable could be optimised. The night time economy continued to play a part in creating an environment where people were more susceptible to violence and theft. It was noted that theft was associated with high levels of re-offending and violence was associated with high levels of repeat victimisation.


Violence was a key issue for Middlesbrough and victims who suffered the most repeat offences were most likely to suffer violence against the person and also against property in the form of criminal damage. Incidents of sexual violence had increased slightly over the past year and although it was a relatively low number the impact was very high. Forty-six percent of all violent crimes had been recorded as Domestic Violence (DV). Domestic Violence was a significant factor in referrals to children’s services and a major contributor to homelessness.


Reducing the extent and harm of substance misuse remained a priority due to its links with so many other risk factors. Substance misuse was a key factor in DV, attributed to at least four in ten offences. Members expressed surprise at this statistic as information provided previously had indicated that alcohol abuse was the main causal factor for DV. It was explained that the statistic provided was recorded information on offenders who had come through the criminal justice system. It was acknowledged that the figure provided could be lower than the actual incidents.


Research over the last three years had shown that 13% of victims also presented as offenders and there was a cohort within that group who were likely to have complex needs.


The two agreed strategic priorities in this area were; to reduce repeat victimisation and reduce the harm to themselves and others by the most troubled families.




It was highlighted that the number of shoplifting offences was increasing. Shoplifting was associated with the highest rates of re-offending, had the greatest cost to the community and had been linked to rising levels of poverty. It was also the crime that had the highest estimated unreported and undetected levels.


Reports from the National Treatment Agency showed that Drugs Intervention Programme (DIP) was highly successful in engaging offenders in drug treatment, with 90% of those presenting to DIP subsequently referred into treatment. Positive cocaine tests had continued to rise since late 2010. Many cocaine users were poly drug users and had presented to treatment for opiate misuse, although many would appear to have had just one positive test in the current year, up to 64% would have been arrested in the past. There was also an emerging trend of using a cocktail of prescribed drugs.


The agreed strategic priority was to reduce re-offending with a particular focus on making a difference to the repeat offenders. There was a small proportion who accounted for a significant number of crimes. Individuals who continued to repeat would be targeted and a new project working from a restorative justice perspective would be introduced.


From a crime perspective, according to the latest information, there had been a 9% reduction in overall crime during February 2013.




Across Middlesbrough as a whole, both crime and public health issues were improving. Over the past three years, crime and police-recorded anti-social behaviour had reduced by over a quarter across the whole town. However, the gap between the more deprived areas and more affluent areas was widening. Statistical information showing the overall percentage change in crime by Ward was provided in the Assessment. Members suggested it would be helpful to have further detail on this information with regard to the types of crime committed.


Within the general decline in the number of crimes, the greatest reductions had been in burglaries and criminal damage, however shoplifting offences had increased.


A number of recommendations had been made in relation to Town Centre Safety which included developing a Town Centre Business Crime Partnership to address the issues of crime and anti-social behaviour.


The agreed strategic priority was to target specific locations where there were disproportionately high levels of crime and/or deprivation.


Cross Cutting Issues


The agreed strategic priority was to improve processes for identifying and responding to emerging issues.

The introduction of Restorative Justice was gathering momentum in Middlesbrough and facilitators had been trained within the Probation, Prison and Youth Offending Services, supported by Victim Support volunteers.


There was a continuing need to tackle the risks and harms associated with substance misuse due to the strong correlation with crime and disorder and also with poor health outcomes. Therefore a further agreed strategic priority was to reduce alcohol related harm.


AGREED that:

1. The information provided be received and noted.
2. Further information would be provided to the Panel at its next meeting in relation to:
a) the consolidation of information available within the Local Authority in relation to
anti-social behaviour
b) a breakdown of crimes by crime type within the Middlesbrough Wards.

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