The Scrutiny Support Officer presented a report to outline the purpose of the meeting which was to receive information presented by the Police, Probation Service and the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership (SMP) in relation to the collation of crime data. The Police had not sent a representative to the meeting.
The Panel had previously made enquiries with the SMP as to the collection and analysis of the crime data it received. The Panel found from those enquiries that certain data available to the SMP was not compatible with the data contained within other IT systems used by organisations that also collected data on crime and anti-social behaviour.
The Association of North East Councils (ANEC) and the National Offender Management System (NOMS) had recently produced some recommendations regarding tackling re-offending. One of the recommendations related to strengthening communication and creating a framework for information sharing to develop approaches for more joined-up working.
The Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel had engaged with a number of different organisations and found that the extraction of crime information had been very valuable for directing resources but there had been a number of instances where information did not correlate from one organisation to another. The Panel had also met with a representative from HMP Kirklevington and there was evidence that once offenders had left the prison there was little information available as to whether or not they re-offended.
The SMP representative explained that following her attendance at the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel earlier this year, the Responsible Authorities Group (RAG) was asked to lead on data correlation with regard to the FLARE system. It was hoped that some funding could be secured to employ a guardian of the FLARE system to ensure that all the information was entered and updated. Due to the implementation of the Council-wide Change Programme however, the SMP was under review, as were all IT applications, and this took the forefront at the current time.
The SMP representative had met with the Street Wardens as there was an issue with regard to the timeliness of the data that could be extracted from the FLARE system. The Street Wardens were now producing their own reports for the SMP and that information was shared with the Police and Problem Solving Groups. The information included the number of incidents of different categories and intelligence on persons of interest who had been identified by the Task and Co-ordination Groups. However, in terms of the information available to the SMP direct from the FLARE system, this had not improved since the SMP representative had last met with the Panel in May 2013.
A Panel Member stated that it appeared difficult to obtain information from the SMP but that information could readily be accessed from the Police and NOMS websites. It was apparent that there were still difficulties for the SMP in accessing the FLARE system and information did not appear to be disseminated to Councillors or communities.
The SMP representative agreed that a wide range of information was available on the Police website. From a crime data point of view however, the SMP collated information from different partners and serviced the Problem Solving Groups. The SMP had not been requested to issue information to Councillors specifically but this was something that could be considered. The SMP would need to know what data was required and could then look to see whether a process of circulating that information could be developed. With regard to the police information, since it was already publicly available, it would be a duplication for the SMP to re-distribute it. It was acknowledged that the Police website was an excellent resource and the SMP could signpost to that website if required.
It was explained that there was a legal requirement for all areas to have a Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership which included representation from the Council, Police, Fire Brigade, Public Health and other partners. In Middlesbrough the CDRP responsibilities were currently delivered through the SMP Responsible Authorities Group (RAG). The RAG had a statutory responsibility to undertake an annual Strategic Assessment and from this produce a Community Safety Plan. Funding for drug and alcohol treatment services and community safety was currently commissioned through the SMP Joint Commissioning Group. However, whilst funding for Drugs and Alcohol Treatment was still a major financial resource, funding for Community Safety had reduced dramatically. Due to changes in public health and re-structuring within the Council, there was a need to review where the CDRP responsibilities would sit in future.
It was clarified that the information collated by the Police was recorded in compliance with National Crime Recording Standards. There were excellent data sharing arrangements in place with the Police, and if necessary, daily crime data was available. The Police produced a Performance Management Framework Document on a monthly basis and was usually available between the 10th and 18th of each month. This was a very detailed document with information on crime and anti-social behaviour. It was explained that since a real-time recording system was used, the validated data might vary slightly. This was because sometimes the codes were changed once more information was known and no-crimes were removed from the system. Therefore, there might be a slight change in the official statistics from the initial data produced.
Repeat victimisation was difficult calculate as sometimes people moved address or the reporting was anonymous. It might not be clear who the victim or the offender was. If people gave different names, addresses or date of birth, then there would be a data quality issue. In addition there was no definitive criteria of how Tees-wide or even Middlesbrough-wide that figure should be calculated. However, the SMP was keen to improve the identification of repeat callers and vulnerable people.
The Probation Service representative explained that she had been working with re-offending data for seven years and her frustrations were also around the lack of a joined-up approach. The information in the media and on the Police and other websites did not always match with what was happening on the ground in the town.
A few years ago all agencies worked to National Indicators and there were a number of different ways of calculating re-offending. Re-offending was calculated differently for drug users, young offenders, prolific and priority offenders. There were six different measurements calculated in different ways and they could not be matched together. In 2011 Ministry of Justice moved to using a single Preventing Re-offending Measure. This measure matched with what people were doing on the ground because it looked at everybody who had committed an offence and come back through the system again. It was highlighted that an ex-offender might receive a fine for example; however, the Probation Service or other agency would not have to work with them because they did not have enough issues to warrant involvement with those services.
The Probation Service had a cohort of people that it worked with, and it also held information about their offences. However, Probation would only find out if someone had re-offended if they came back through their service. If a person did re-offend there would be a time lag in the recording, as the re-offence would not be recorded until the person was convicted. The SMP was relying on data that was sometimes two years old as it was impossible to determine how long to wait for a person to re-offend, if indeed they did. In addition, because the data was only recorded following a conviction, there would be a wait until the case had gone through Court. Some information was available from the Integrated Offender Management System.
In the current quarter, 32.5% of offenders in Middlesbrough had re-offended at some point within two years. There were approximately 3510 people included in the Local Authority area and 1138 had re-offended. However, 800 of those were working with Probation, 600 with the Drugs Team and 1200 with the Young Offender Team, and the numbers could not be reconciled
In general terms, information exchange across the SMP in Middlesbrough at an operational level was very good and an information sharing protocol was in place. It was highlighted that data belonged to the organisation that produced it and the SMP tried to bring the data together. It was not the SMPs role to release other organisations data. The CDRP had a range of partners and could produce a more comprehensive set of data than the information available from individuals.
The SMP representative agreed that if there was a specific gap that needed to be filled in terms of disseminating data, this could be explored further. However it was highlighted that there were now only two analysts in the team who were required to support the data requirements for Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services, the needs of the CDRP and specific elements of Public Health. The crime element was only a small proportion of their workload and therefore any additional work required on data would have to be able to be produced within current resources.
OASys was the Offender Assessment System used by the Probation service to measure the risks and needs of criminal offenders under their supervision. There were fifteen areas in the assessment which included training, education, relationships, emotional wellbeing, drug and or alcohol misuse. The assessment identified how likely an offender was to be re-convicted, what their offending-related needs were, their personality characteristics and whether they were at risk of harm to themselves or others.
The Probation Service had carried out a great deal of work examining the differences between those people who re-offended and those who did not. It had been established that for those people who re-offended there were a number of areas where they had greater needs, for example drug use, education, finance and accommodation. The Probation Service was not a responsible authority to work on each of these areas and therefore worked with other agencies to try and address those needs identified. Information was shared with the SMP regarding the numbers of people working with Probation with these types of issues.
It was highlighted that Stockton Council had an effective CDRP and it was suggested that a representative of that Panel be invited to a future meeting.
A Panel Member raised the issue of ex-offenders being placed in the community in what were known as "halfway houses" and how they were monitored. The Panel agreed that this topic should be explored further.
AGREED as follows that:
1. The information provided be received and noted.
2. The Scrutiny Support Officer would draft Terms of Reference and Lines of Enquiry for approval at the next meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel.
3. A representative of Stocktons Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership would be invited to a future meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel.