Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Date:
Monday 27 July 2015
Time:
10:30 a.m.
Place:
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor L Lewis (Vice Chair in the Chair), Councillor J Goodchild, Councillor B A Hubbard, Councillor P Purvis and Councillor Z Uddin,
Observers:
Councillor T Lawton, L Henman (Political Assistant), A Pain (Press Office), Middlesbrough Council.
Invitees:
Councillor J Sharrocks - Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Officers:
C Breheny, J Dixon, P Harrison and J Hill.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor J Hobson and Councillor F McIntyre.
Declarations of interest:

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

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
15/5 MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING OF THE COMMUNITY SAFETY & LEISURE SCRUTINY PANEL, HELD ON 6 JULY 2015.

The Minutes of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 6 July 2015 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

15/6 REHABILITATION AND RE-OFFENDING - INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW OF NEW SCRUTINY TOPIC.

The Scrutiny Support Officer submitted a report to provide Panel Members with background information in relation to the new scrutiny topic of Re-offending and Rehabilitation.

 

At its meeting on 6 July 2015, the Panel agreed to examine the topic "Re-offending and Rehabilitation - How Does Middlesbrough Fare?" as part of its 2015/16 work programme.

 

By way of providing background information, the report outlined that adult offending in the North East was one and a half times the national average. The overall re-offending rate in England and Wales was 26%, however, this rate was 32.9% in Middlesbrough and had not changed over the last two years.

 

The 'Transforming Rehabilitation' reforms programme was launched by the Government in December 2013. This changed the way offenders were managed in the community, with 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) replacing the 35 probation trusts in England and Wales. The CRCs had responsibility for managing low and medium risk offenders and a new National Probation Service (NPS) was responsible for managing high risk offenders.

 

Achieving Real Change in Communities (ARCC) was the lead provider of rehabilitation services for ex-offenders in the Durham and Tees Valley area and was the only socially-led consortium out of the 21 contract areas. ARCC had a seven year contract to provide the services and the contract was worth around £14m per year, subject to targets being met. ARCC was a joint venture involving:-

  • Changing Lives in Durham Tees Valley CIC, a probation staff mutual.
  • Thirteen Housing Group, a registered social landlord.
  • The Wise Group, a social enterprise.
  • Safe in Tees Valley, a charity.
  • Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
  • The Vardy Foundation, a charity.
  • Stockton Borough Council.
     

The Panel was informed that the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) came into force on 1 February 2015 and was a significant step in implementing the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. The reforms included the extension of supervision to an extra 45,000 offenders a year who were released from short prison sentences (less than 12 months custody). These offenders had the highest re-offending rates of any group and the majority previously received no supervision after completing a custodial sentence. Almost 60% of adult offenders released from short prison sentences in the year up to March 2013 went on to re-offend within the next 12 months. This equated to 16,719 re-offenders committing a further 85,047 offences.

 

The National Audit Office estimated that the total cost to the economy of crime committed by recent ex-prisoners was between £9.5 and £13 billion. Around £7 to £10 billion of this was the cost of crime committed by offenders released from short prison sentences.

 

The report suggested the following areas that the Panel might wish to explore as part of its review:-

  • The high number of first time entrants to the Youth Justice System.
  • Youth Crime in Middlesbrough - South Tees Youth Offending Service.
  • 'Through the Gate' initiative and community based resettlement.
  • Reducing Re-offending - Holme House Prison.
  • ARCC - new ways of working.

J Hill, Community Safety Manager, and P Harrison, Operations Manager, Youth Offending Service, were in attendance at the meeting to provide a presentation to Members in relation to the current topic of re-offending and rehabilitation.

 

The Community Safety Manager advised that her team had responsibility for crime and anti-social behaviour and sat within the Supporting Communities department of Middlesbrough Council under the new structure.

 

By way of background information, the Panel was informed that there had been statutory changes to Community Safety Partnerships (CSPs) under the Police and Crime Act 2009:-

  • Probation became a responsible authority of CSPs, having previously been a co-operating body.
  • A new duty for CSPs to formulate and implement a strategy to reduce offending by adult and young offenders.
  • Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act was amended to add a duty for certain defined authorities to consider reducing re-offending in the exercise of all their duties.

The responsibility for the Community Safety Partnership had transferred to the service from Public Health and would see the transfer of CCTV control room and Street Warden service to the Community Safety Team.

 

It was explained that within the new structure, the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) ultimately fed into the Health and Wellbeing Board and there were currently five themes feeding into the CSP, namely: domestic violence, reducing re-offending, victimisation, prevent agenda and stronger neighbourhoods. Joint Action Groups fed into the Stronger Neighbourhoods theme.

 

Data provided from the Ministry of Justice was provided in relation to proven re-offending rates in Middlesbrough. As there was a lag in the data, figures were currently available for the period October 2010 and September 2011. The proportion of adult re-offenders was 33.1% and there was a 0.7% increase in re-offending between 2010 and 2011. It was highlighted that fewer offenders were re-offending but they were offending more frequently. A third of re-offenders had committed the highest number of re-offences. Also during the period October 2010 to September 2011 it was noted that the proportion of prolific and priority offenders who re-offended was 75.7%. This figure had reduced from 90.5% the previous year. It was hoped that this information would be brought up to date once the Team had appointed its own analyst.

 

In terms of services available, reference was made to the Integrated Offender Management (IOM), whereby the most prolific and priority offenders in Middlesbrough were identified and managed jointly by partner agencies working together. 35 adult offenders had been identified in Middlesbrough.

 

Cleveland Police provided a Police Officer to work alongside colleagues from probation services (ARCC and NPS) and a Prison Officer from Holme House Prison. The IOM Team managed the 35 prolific/priority offenders through a range of interventions, including tailoring offenders’ licence conditions such as exclusion areas, curfews and mandatory drug testing.
 

The Panel was advised that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) ran prison and probation services for adults and provided support to those leaving prison to prevent re-offending.

 

Middlesbrough Council provided a Troubled Families Programme and worked with parents and young people involved in crime and anti-social behaviour. Access to the programme was triggered by children who had not been attending school regularly and needed help, adults that were out of work or at risk of financial exclusion and young people at risk of worklessness, families affected by domestic violence and abuse and parents/children with a range of health needs. For families engaged in the Troubled Families Programme, where any prolific/priority offenders were identified (and managed by the IOM), the Supporting Families Team would engage with those families to provide intensive support.

 

It was highlighted that other Middlesbrough Council departments that contributed to reducing re-offending included Public Health (commissioning drug and alcohol services, MRT) and the Community Safety Partnership who produced the Crime Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) - identifying the problems in Middlesbrough - and the Community Safety Plan - offering solutions to the problems. The Community Safety Partnership was also responsible for co-ordinating services that worked in partnership around reducing re-offending.

 

The Panel was shown a map highlighting the locations with the highest volume of crime, anti-social behaviour and deliberate fires between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013 and it was confirmed that these areas still remained the same to date. The areas with the highest volume of crime were Middlehaven, North Ormesby and Brambles Farm, Gresham and Beechwood and resources were being targeted in these areas.

 

It was explained that in response to anti-social behaviour in Middlesbrough, there were four Neighbourhood Safety Officers covering the whole of the town. Full details would be circulated to the Panel by the officer. The Service received around 1,200 service requests per year in relation to anti-social behaviour and there had been 649 service requests between April and June 2015 alone. The Service was also responsible for CCTV (177 cameras and control room) across the town and Street Wardens. The number of Street Wardens had significantly reduced from 78 to 12 and those Wardens were predominantly deployed within the town centre, however, deploying Wardens to areas of greater need would be explored as part of an impending enforcement review. Despite reduced resources, demand remained high, therefore, specific targeting of areas of need was required. The Police faced similar issues in terms of reduced resources.

 

Community Safety also worked closely with the Erimus anti-social behaviour team and also held Joint Action Groups which were multi-agency problem solving meetings in high priority areas (Gresham, North Ormesby, Longlands and Beechwood). The service also worked closely with the Police and Youth Offending Team.

 

During the course of discussion, the following issues were raised:-

  • In response to a query regarding the areas with the highest volume of crime/anti-social behaviour, it was stated that there was a big problem with private rented accommodation, particularly in areas such as North Ormesby, where accommodation was readily available. It was hoped that the introduction of selective licensing would help to address the problems. 
  • In response to a query regarding the Troubled Families Programme, the Panel was advised that a tailored support package would be provided for the family and that a 'step down' service into mainstream support services was available afterwards.
  • In relation to the 35 prolific/priority offenders managed by the IOM, figures for the success rate of the service were not available at the meeting and the Scrutiny Support Officer advised that details would be obtained from Sergeant Gordon Lang and Sergeant Mark Lennard.
  • Reference was made to individuals riding bikes in pedestrian areas in the town centre. The Community Safety Manager stated that officers were aware of the problem and that specific issues should be reported through the One Stop system.
  • The Community Safety Manager highlighted that anti-social behaviour amongst young people was actually reducing, however, there were more problems with adults, particularly in the private rented sector. It was highlighted that some of the issues associated with young people were seasonal, eg light nights during the summer. Information was shared between Community Hubs, Neighbourhood Safety Officers and the Police.
  • A Member of the Panel suggested that, in areas predominantly comprising of Erimus-owned housing, Erimus be approached with a view to possibly making a financial contribution towards funding a street warden in that area.

Paul Harrison, Operations Manager, South Tees Youth Offending Service, was also in attendance at the meeting to provide the Panel with information in relation to youth offending in Middlesbrough.

 

The Panel was informed that the South Tees Youth Offending Service (YOS) had a statutory duty to co-ordinate youth Justice Services in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland and was a partnership comprising the two local authorities, Cleveland Police, Health and the National Probation Service. It had a statutory duty to prevent offending and re-offending by young people aged 10-17 years. The Service sometimes managed young people beyond 17 years and this was determined on a case by case basis.

 

Information was provided in relation to reducing the numbers of first time entrants to the system. Between 2008-2015 there had been a reduction of 84% of first time entrants in the South Tees area. This equated to an 82.8% reduction in Middlesbrough (418 first time entrants reducing to 72). This was a significant reduction and had been achieved by some structural changes to the approaches taken by the Police in terms of the way in which they dealt with young offenders and low level crime, the introduction of restorative approaches by the Police, including Youth Restorative Intervention and also the introduction of Triage.

 

It was highlighted that the restorative approaches engaged the young person with the victim(s) of their offence(s) and around 256 young people had received youth restorative interventions in 2014/15. In the South Tees area, a young person was afforded one opportunity to receive restorative intervention.

 

It was explained that Triage was introduced in 2013 and was a programme of intervention to address offending by young people where the circumstances of the offence made it appropriate for it to be dealt with through Triage. To be eligible for Triage, the individual must admit responsibility for their offending and agree to engage with the YOS for assessment and an agreed voluntary programme of intervention. Triage was a short intervention (typically lasting around seven weeks) designed to address the offending and divert the young person from re-offending. All young people referred to Triage must undergo a comprehensive assessment to identify risk factors and needs. After successfully completing Triage the young person’s offending was dealt with as 'no further action'.


During 2014-15, 95 young people were referred for Triage (51 in Middlesbrough) and the rate of re-offending for Triage cases was 13.7% in South Tees, with the majority being diverted away from crime. Appropriate support would be identified for those young people without employment or skills and the YOS worked closely with education support services and schools and also had good relationships with the local drugs and alcohol service, Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and Health to provide a complete support package. Where a young person was of work age, Support Workers would assist in getting the young person into training or college depending upon individual circumstances. The service also worked with the Princes Trust to offer accredited packages.

 

A graph showing the numbers of first time entrants in Middlesbrough and Redcar was presented to the Panel. It showed that first time entrants in Middlesbrough had reduced from 418 in 2008/09 to 72 in 2014/15. It was highlighted that the number of young people in the YOS re-offending cohort had reduced from 405 in 2008/09 to 100 in 2014/15, which was below the national average. The number of offences committed by young people reduced to 677 compared with 1,911 offences in 2011. The reduction in the figures reflected the improvement in other areas (such as the reduction in first time entrants). In summary, the YOS was working with less young people and there was less offending, however, the current cohort was harder to reach. It was clarified that breaches of Orders and ASBOs were classed as offences and that a small group of young people could account for a high volume of offending. For example, in one quarter of the year, five young people had committed more than 30 offences. Overall, however, it was a positive picture.

 

Reductions in re-offending had been achieved through various measures, such as the introduction of Re-engagement Panels as a tool for promoting compliance, improving the quality of assessment and planning, tracking young people to identify triggers to re-offending and providing earlier intervention and using enforcement positively to challenge and re-engage young people. An inspection of the Service two years ago had highlighted areas for improvement, therefore significant investment had been made and a mock inspection earlier this year showed significant improvements had been achieved.

 

In addition, greater emphasis had been placed on Restorative Justice to protect victims and communities. Investment had been made in two new posts and the YOS taking responsibility for the Junior Attendance Centre, with provision of training around Restorative Justice to YOS staff and partners in order to improve outcomes for young people. The Junior Attendance Centre provided young people with access to a kitchen, where they were able to learn how to prepare food, and access to leisure activities. The Centre provided training rooms where appropriate training could be delivered and changes had been made to the way in which this was delivered (eg, smaller chunks of training for half hour periods with breaks in between). Reparation work was another area of Restorative Justice that could result in accreditation for work undertaken by the young person and this area was currently being further explored.

 

The Panel was informed that closer working relationships with Children’s Services (to safeguard young people and reduce offending by looked after children), ASB Teams (co-ordinating new tools and powers) and Early Help (to offer early intervention for young people at risk of offending) were being developed.

 

It was noted that the use of custody for young people in Middlesbrough had reduced by 82.1% (56-10) between 2008-2015. Many young people would 'grow out' of offending and would be more likely to re-offend where custody had been used. The YOS offered targeted intervention and intensive supervision and used Police intelligence to support challenges made to young people. This resulted in successful engagement of young people in community sentences.

 

During the course of discussion, the following issues were raised:-

  • In response to a query from a Panel Member regarding young offenders from Stockton, it was clarified that the South Tees Youth Offending Service only dealt with young people living in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, but that Stockton’s Youth Offending Service would notify them of any issues/problems and vice-versa.
  • It was queried whether South Tees YOS worked in partnership with the Thirteen Group. The Operations Manager responded that the YOS did not work directly with Thirteen, however, they would work with any young person that was a Thirteen resident and also attended quarterly meetings with the PCC where Thirteen was represented. In response to concerns regarding people moving to Middlesbrough from outside the area, the Panel was advised that the area from where the young person had moved had a statutory duty to inform the YOS and it was highlighted that the South Tees YOS worked closely with the other Tees Valley YOTs.
  • In response to a query regarding Restorative Justice, it was confirmed that this was also used for adult offenders.
  • It was queried how fire setting, particularly during the summer, was monitored in Middlesbrough. The Panel was advised that there had been a significant reduction in Middlesbrough and any incidents were referred to the Fire Service for targeted intervention. A dedicated Fire Officer was part of the Community Safety Partnership and it was hoped they would visit the Attendance Centre to provide information to young people.
  • Reference was made to the Middlesbrough Sports Village and it was queried whether young offenders could be encouraged to use the facilities. The Operations Manager confirmed that gym sessions were offered to young people but this was a potential area for development. YOS worked with Street League which was a charity that aimed to change lives through football.
  • In relation to the proportion of male and female offenders, it was stated that around 92% of young offenders were male and predominantly white. The average age used to be 16-17 years but was now 14-15 years so young offenders were offending at a younger age. Often the young person might struggle in school or be from a background of offending or domestic violence.

The Chair thanked the Officers for their attendance and the information provided.

 

The Panel held a discussion to determine which issues it wished to consider further and identified services/witnesses it wished to invite to future meetings as part of the investigation into rehabilitation and re-offending.

 

AGREED as follows:-

  1. That the information contained in the submitted report, and information provided by the Officers at the meeting, be noted.
  2. That draft Terms of Reference in relation to the current scrutiny review be submitted to the Panel’s next meeting.
  3. That information be obtained and, where appropriate, relevant representatives be invited to future Panel meetings to provide information in relation to the following areas:-
  • NOMS (National Offender Management Service), Holme House prison.
  • Perspective of ex-offenders
  • Troubled Families Programme
  • Community Payback Scheme (or similar)
  • ARCC (Achieving Real Change in Communities).
  • Prevent agenda.
     
15/7 DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING - MONDAY, 17 AUGUST 2015 AT 10.30AM.

The next meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel was scheduled for Monday, 17 August 2015 at 10.30am.

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