Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Date:
Wednesday 25 June 2014
Time:
10:30 a.m.
Place:
Oberhausen Room,Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
McIntyre, (Chair for the Meeting), Biswas, Davison, Hubbard, Hudson, Lowes, P Purvis, N J Walker (as substitute for Councillor Clark)
Officers:
C Breheny, S Harker, J Hill, A Pain, E Pout and T Punton
Apologies for absence:
There were no Apologies for Absence
Declarations of interest:

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

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
14/1 APPOINTMENT OF CHAIR

Nominations were sought for Chair of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel pro tem.

 

AGREED that Councillor McIntyre was appointed Chair of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel for the meeting.

14/2 VICE CHAIR - COMMUNITY SAFETY AND LEISURE SCRUTINY PANEL - APPOINTMENT

The Chair sought nominations for Vice-Chair of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel for the 2014/2015 Municipal Year.

ORDERED that Councillor P Purvis be appointed as Vice-Chair of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel for the 2014/2015 Municipal Year.

14/3 MINUTES - COMMUNITY SAFETY AND LEISURE SCRUTINY PANEL - 30 APRIL 2014

The minutes of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 30 April 2014 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

14/4 SUSPENSION OF COUNCIL PROCEDURE RULE NO 10 - ORDER OF BUSINESS

In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10, the Committee agreed to vary the order of business to deal with the items in the following order: Agenda item 6, Agenda item 5 , Agenda item 7, Agenda item 8, and Agenda item 9.

14/5 WORK PROGRAMME 2014-2015

The Scrutiny Support Officer presented a report to outline the purpose of the meeting which was to provide Members of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel with information to assist in the consideration of suitable topics for inclusion in the Panel's Work Programme for 2014-2015. Each of the Council's Scrutiny Panels agreed an annual Work Programme of topics for investigation which was then considered and approved by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

All Council Members had been consulted on possible topics for inclusion in the Work Programme and suggestions received from the public were also included in the submitted report. Members were reminded that the list of possible topics was not exhaustive and additional topics could be added and considered at the meeting.

The Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel had a responsibility to address certain issues each year as follows:
 

  • The Safer Middlesbrough Partnership (SMP).
  • Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).
  • Domestic Violence.

 

The Panel would also receive an update on the Coroner’s Service.

 

Scrutiny Panels had also previously responded on an ad-hoc basis to emerging issues - such as considering relevant new legislation, guidance or Government consultation documents. This approach occasionally resulted in further topics being identified for investigation or review throughout the year. In addition, the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board had requested that scrutiny panels consider how they could be involved with, and influence, the Council's Change Programme.

 

The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Board was present at the meeting and explained that scrutiny would take a more pro-active role in influencing Council policy at an earlier stage in the process, rather than scrutinising issues once decisions had been taken. It was also suggested that Task and Finish Groups could look at topics as well as those scrutinised by the full Panel.

To assist in determining possible work programme topics, the Assistant Director, Environment, Property and Commercial Services and the Community Safety Manager, Supporting Communities were present at the meeting to provide an overview of key issues facing the service in the year ahead.

Members discussed the suggested topics in detail and the Assistant Director, Environment, Property and Commercial Services and the Community Safety Manager, provided additional information as appropriate. Issues discussed in more detail included Community Safety, the future delivery model for Sports and Leisure Services and the progress of the Prissick Sports Park development. 

 

The Council had recently established a new Supporting Communities Department and its portfolio included 0-19 Services, Community Hubs and Centres, Community Protection, Regeneration, Homelessness, Libraries, Neighbourhood Safety and the Safer Middlesbrough Partnership (SMP). It was anticipated that the new management structure for Supporting Communities would be in place by July.

The Safer Middlesbrough Partnership covered two elements - crime and disorder and drug and alcohol intervention. Whilst some of this work now came under public health, the crime and disorder element was within the new Department and would include issues such as re-offending and the Prevent agenda. With regard to the 0-19 Services and Community Regeneration, the Department would be seeking to improve early intervention to prevent families entering the social care system. 

 

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 would come into force in October 2014. The legislation reduced the previous nineteen tools and powers to six, to allow for much quicker processes and focus on victims and witnesses. The Police and Local Authorities would be able to use all the powers and Registered Social Landlords would have some powers, but not others. It was anticipated that the introduction of the Act would have a huge impact on resources. The Act also introduced the Community Remedy and the Community Trigger. Staffing in the Police Community Safety Unit had reduced from 28 to 7 staff and the Unit now dealt with Cleveland as a whole, rather than individual authorities. Therefore the Community Remedy and Community Trigger would need to be a Cleveland-wide approach.

 

In 2013 the Panel had received updates on Sports and Leisure Needs Analysis, Playing Pitch Strategy and Prissick. The Assistant Director explained that the Options Appraisal Process had started with assistance from Max Associates, a company that specialised in providing services to Councils looking at different delivery models. The four options available were:

 

  • Re-configuration and re-provision of the existing services.
  • Establish a locally based Trust.
  • Procure an existing Trust (perhaps work with other Councils).
  • Community Asset Transfer for leisure facilities.

A half day workshop would take place on 18 July 2014 to look at the options in detail and score each one against the Council’s strategic objectives including public health in the town. A recommendation on a model for future delivery would then be made to the Transformation Board by 19 August 2014. Subject to Executive agreement, a procurement exercise would then take place and a new model would be operational from October 2015. This would tie in with the opening of the new Prissick Sports Village in April 2015.

 

The Assistant Director stated that scrutiny involvement in the process to get to the preferred option would be welcomed and suggested that the Chair of the Panel meet with representatives from Max Associates. It was acknowledged that the timescale was very tight but the project had to fit in with the Change Programme timetable. 

 

The proposed topics were as follows:

 

1. Future delivery model for Sports and Leisure Services (Change Programme Topic)
2. How the Council linked with the Police and Crime Commissioner - PCC progress to date and how the Council could help.
3. How the Council could use health related evidence when ruling on licence applications.
4. Improving standards and behaviours of direct debit street fundraisers 'Chuggers'.
5. Events in Town/operation of Safety Assessment Group.
6. Influence of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
7. Mental Health support for Offenders.

 

It was anticipated that Items 3 and 4 would be short topics.

 

AGREED that the topics listed at 1 to 7 above, would be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for approval.

14/6 FINAL REPORT ON EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN

The Scrutiny Support Officer outlined the purpose of the meeting which was to consider the draft Final Report on Protecting Children From Sexual Exploitation, agree its content, and add appropriate conclusions and recommendations prior to submission to the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Following national publicity regarding the growing problem of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), the Panel’s aim was to assess the extent of the problem in Middlesbrough, examine what services were in place to tackle the problem and if appropriate, what additional measures should be taken to combat this issue.

 

The Terms of Reference of the scrutiny investigation were as follows:

(a) To assess the level of the problem of Child Sexual Exploitation in Middlesbrough.
(b) To assess how effective the relevant agencies were in combatting the problem and arresting any increase in the number of cases.
(c) To identify areas where the Council or other agencies could contribute to tackling the exploitation of children.

The Panel found that work was ongoing in Middlesbrough to address the issues across a range of agencies.

 

AGREED as follows:

1. That the following conclusions be included in the Final Report:
 

  • That the impact of sexual exploitation cannot be underestimated. It can have serious long term impacts on every aspect of a child’s life, their health and their education and indeed their future. It can devastate lives and lead to family breakdown. As the Panel heard 'to get this wrong is too much of a risk'. Councillors agreed that they must ensure that the safeguarding agenda is promoted. In order for the good work to continue the Council must ensure that it is appropriately resourced.

 

  • That the message the Panel sends out is one of - child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated in our area. Work will carry on seeking out, investigating and stopping perpetrators of this horrible crime.

 

  • What concerned the Panel in its early stages was that this alarming problem was on the increase nationally and that trend was reflected in Middlesbrough. Consequently, the Panel sought to meet with representatives from a range of organisations and services who were presently endeavouring to deal with this problem. What became evident from the outset was that there was no dispute that this is a growing problem and that various organisations were indeed applying their skills and time to address it. Information such as how children are being groomed and the seriousness of the problem were disturbing yet on a positive side the panel found that the agencies demonstrated commitment and indeed were having an impact.

 

  • What was not clear was the exact scale of the problem and therefore as a result of that it is difficult to assess if the work to reduce the problem is having an impact. Is the application of resources simply holding the problem at a static position, slowing its development or reducing the problem? This can only be judged if detailed figures are kept and information is shared. Success in combating the issues also has to be taken in the context of 'the more you look, the more you find' so successful measures to raise awareness might make numbers rise.

 

  • Information and statistics on the number of people affected by CSE and the numbers of perpetrators is key. Data collection and information sharing must be improved. Where nervousness about data protection exists, this must be overcome and organisations must have a duty to share information where they suspect CSE is occurring.

 

  • The importance of the whole community looking out for evidence of CSE cannot be underestimated and this must begin with Councillors as the 'eyes and ears' of the town. The role of other front line council workers is also paramount, in that they should be made aware of the signs of CSE and how to report it so that if they do suspect suspicious behaviour it can be acted on.

 

  • The Panel found that if there was any reference made to when a child is found to be groomed in a taxi, then the taxi driver’s licence is suspended by the Council’s licensing department. However, due to different legislation this would not prevent the taxi driver from then applying for a PSV licence and legitimately driving a mini bus (over 9 seated vehicle) which is licenced under the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (formally VOSA) the application for a PSV licence does not currently require drivers to undergo a DBS check, effectively the driver could continue their contact with children. The Panel considered that this legislation and control should be revised and representation made to Government regarding this.

 

  • The Panel found that the van which travelled the streets between 10.00 pm and 4.00 am and returned young children found 'roaming' the streets to their home, was indeed a positive service and potentially saving young children from harm. However, upon enquiry the Panel found that the van was only used 20 days per year. In recognition of the seriousness of this problem and the potential benefit the van can have to safeguarding children the Panel considered that effort should be made to increase its usage.

 

  • The Panel were pleased to hear that every secondary school had a designated member of staff who was trained to understand the signs of, and the motivation for, CSE. Schools are key to preventing CSE because they see children on a daily basis. However, schools and teachers must continue to be equipped to deal with the issue, whether that is through training, information awareness and preventative work with pupils.

 

  • That Acklam Grange should be commended for their work in tackling CSE and that model they have developed around preventing and dealing with this issue should be regarded as a model of good practice.

 

  • The Panel were concerned to hear that the problem is a growing one in schools and that more resources are needed to tackle the issue. Members considered that assisting schools to fund non-teaching posts to help tackle safeguarding and CSE issues should be a priority.

 

  • The Panel were concerned about the lack of supervision for school staff who have had to deal with distressing cases of CSE. This is also highlighted by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner as a national issue and one which should be dealt with by offering all staff dealing with CSE regular supervision and training.

2. That the following recommendations be included in the Final Report:
 

  • That the Middlesbrough Safeguarding Children’s Board (MSCB) and the Wellbeing, Care and Learning Department undertake a short sharp review of their operational and strategic plans against the seven principles of the See Me Hear Me framework contained within the Office of the Children’s Commissioner Document - 'If only someone had listened' - and any other appropriate national guidance to ensure that officers are confident that their policies and procedures are robust. The MSCB and the Wellbeing, Care and Learning Department should report back to the Panel in six months on this matter.

 

  • That the Council consider adding information to the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) about the prevalence of CSE and determine appropriate commissioning decisions and priorities.

 

  • That the Council makes representation to the Government to ask them to alter the process for applications made to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency - DVSA (formally Vehicle and Operator Services Agency - VOSA) for a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence to operate a public hire vehicle of 9 seats or more. The Council would suggest that the DVSA process is aligned to the Council’s licence application process (for private hire licences for vehicles of less than 8 seats) which ensures that all drivers have undertaken a DBS check and that any drivers involved with the exploitation of children would have their licence suspended.

 

  • That the Licensing Team and the Council’s Safeguarding Team review their lines of communication to ensure that there is a robust method of sharing information between the teams and ensure that the teams are confident that their process of information sharing is fit for purpose. In particular when details are received by the licencing team that these are shared with the VEMT - Perpetrators Group.

 

  • That a six monthly update is provided to the Panel from the Executive Member for Children’s Social Care and the Assistant Director, Safeguarding and Children’s Care, on how the problem is being addressed and if the objectives of the VEMT are being implemented and an update on progress against targets with regard to CSE.

 

  • The Panel were extremely supportive of the work of the VEMT. The Panel would like to see that, through the Council’s representative on the VEMT group:

- That the VEMT explore methods of improving information sharing, especially between the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board and the health sector.

 

- The VEMT’s work to engage with local businesses to raise the awareness of CSE is given a high priority.

  • Following the mapping exercise on CSE training the Council is undertaking the Wellbeing, Care and Learning Department should ensure:

- That all foster carers and residential care home staff have received up to date training on spotting the signs of sexual exploitation and know who to contact if they have suspicions or an incident to report.


- That an e-learning training course on CSE awareness should be offered to all Councillors and Council staff, especially front line workers. Details should be kept of who has received the training and when any refresher training needs to be offered.


- That a well-publicised dedicated contact officer is named so that people can contact should they suspect that CSE is taking place.

  • That the agencies involved in Operation Stay Safe, which had been funded by the Youth Crime Action Plan, be asked to consider if it is possible to increase the number of nights they undertake the operation which is currently 20 nights per year.

 

  •  Whilst recognising that a number of Middlesbrough’s secondary schools are now independently run academies, the Panel would like the Children, Families and Learning Department to give consideration to:

- How schools can be assisted to employ non-teaching staff who can maintain the preventative work around safeguarding and CSE and have the capacity to deal with any CSE issues where they may occur. Schools may wish to explore ways to pool budgets to ensure that they have sufficient funding for training and can share costs to maximise resources.

 

- Finding a small amount of funding to provide trained counsellors for schools (again this could be completed with pooled budgets and schools sharing the resource).

 

- Helping and encouraging schools to introduce a mechanism for an officially recognised system of supervision for teaching staff involved in dealing with CSE.

 

- Enter into a dialogue with schools as to how the good practice and experience in Acklam School can be formally shared with schools across the town.

 

- Ensure all schools are regularly reminded of the warning signs of child sexual exploitation.
 

3. That the report should be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration.
 

14/7 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 meetings held on 29 April, 27 May and 9 June 2014, namely:

29 April 2014

  • Employability Skills From Care2Work Pathways for Children in Care - Final Report of the Children and Learning Scrutiny Panel.
  • Mental Health Services Capacity - Final Report of the Health Scrutiny Panel.
  • Scrutiny Panel Progress Reports

 

27 April 2014

  • Vice-Chair Appointment.
  • Dog-Fouling Update - Report of the Environment Scrutiny Panel.
  • Feedback from the Executive - 22 April 2014.
  • Business and Job Creation - Final Report of the Economic Regeneration and Transport Scrutiny Panel.
  • Gresham Regeneration Update - Report of the Economic Regeneration and Transport Scrutiny Panel.
  • Continuing Healthcare Provision (CHC) To Ensure the Health Economy Funds Health Needs - Final Report of the Social Care and Adult Services Scrutiny Panel.
  • Any Other Business.

 

9 June 2014
 

  • Call In - Future of Netherfields Community Centre.

 

NOTED

14/8 COMMUNITY SAFETY AND LEISURE SCRUTINY PANEL MEETING DATES 2014-2015

A schedule of provisional meeting dates for the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel for 2014-2015 had been circulated for Members' consideration.

AGREED that the provisional meeting dates for the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel for 2014-2015 be approved.

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