Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Monday 14 September 2015
10:30 a.m.
Mandela Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough

Attendance Details

Councillor F McIntyre (Chair), Councillor L Lewis (Vice Chair); Councillor A Hellaoui, Councillor J Hobson, Councillor P Purvis and Councillor Z Uddin.
L Henman, Political Assistant, Middlesbrough Council.
Councillor J Sharrocks - Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Board.
All Members invited in relation to Agenda Item 4: Councillor J Brunton, Mr D Budd, Councillor D P Coupe, Councillor T Harvey, Councillor C Hobson, Councillor T Lawton, Councillor J McGee, Councillor C M Rooney, Councillor B E Taylor and Councillor L Young.
C Breheny, J Dixon, J Hill and N Pocklington.
Apologies for absence:
Panel Members: Councillor J Goodchild and Councillor B A Hubbard.
Members of the Council: Councillor M Carr, Councillor T Higgins, Councillor T Mawston, Councillor L McGloin, Councillor J A Walker.
Declarations of interest:

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

Item Number Item/Resolution

The Minutes of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 17 August 2015 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


N Pocklington, Assistant Director: Safeguarding and Children’s Care, was in attendance at the meeting to provide the Panel with an update on the multi-agency response to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) in Middlesbrough. M Braithwaite, Chair of Middlesbrough’s Safeguarding Children’s Board (MSCB) was also in attendance to provide information in relation to the subject.


It was highlighted that all Members of the Council had been invited to attend the meeting in relation to the item as the planned Members’ Seminar on the subject had been postponed.


The Assistant Director of Safeguarding and Children’s Care had circulated a report and it was noted that he had previously attended the Panel’s meeting on 12 March 2015 to provide information on the actions taken within Middlesbrough in relation to understanding the nature of CSE and the multi-agency response to it.


The Panel was advised that children and young people who were sexually exploited were victims of child sexual abuse and their needs required careful assessment. They were likely to be in need of welfare services and, in many cases, protection under the Children Act 1989.


Government guidance published in June 2009 stated that every Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) should assume that sexual exploitation occurs within its area unless there was clear evidence to the contrary and that systems should be put in place to monitor prevalence and responses.


The Guidance stated that LSCBs should ensure that specific local procedures were in place covering the sexual exploitation of children and young people. The procedures were a subset of the LSCB procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and should be consistent with local youth offending protocols.


The strong links identified between different forms of sexual exploitation, such as running away from home, gang activity, child trafficking and substance misuse, should be considered during the development of procedures.

Details of local arrangements in Middlesbrough in response to CSE, were outlined in the report, as follows:-

  • Tees Strategic VEMT Group - Chaired by Cleveland Police. Made up of the four Tees LSCBs to address the issues of vulnerable, exploited, missing or trafficked children. The Group met quarterly and provided strategic direction across the Tees Valley for professionals working with children/young people who may be at risk of exploitation or were vulnerable.
  • MSCB Strategic VEMT Group - The purpose of the (Middlesbrough Safeguarding Children Board) Strategic VEMT Group was to ensure a multi-agency response to sharing information, monitoring risk and analysing data for children/young people who may be vulnerable, exploited, missing or trafficked. The group reported to the Tees Strategic VEMT Group and the MSCB on a regular basis as the Chair was a member of both forums. The Group also oversaw the work undertaken by the MSCB VEMT Practitioners Group (MSCB VPG) and the Middlesbrough Risk Management Group.
  • MSCB Vulnerable Young People’s Group - The VPG supported frontline practitioners in their role of supporting children/young people, by formulating an action plan. This could support an existing plan for the child/young person whether they were subject to child in need, child protection or looked after.
  • Middlesbrough Risk Management Group - Chaired by the Assistant Director of Safeguarding and Children’s Care, to address frontline professionals’ concerns in respect of children/young people who posed a high/very high risk to their own wellbeing due to their harmful and risk taking behaviours. The Group determined which services needed to be put in place to address the risks and release the resources needed above the normal processes and timeframes. The Group allowed concerns to be shared at a very senior level. Although the process was particular to a small minority of children/young people, it had proved invaluable given that the child/young person and their parents/carers were able to attend the meetings to share their views and wishes.

In terms of providing information/intelligence to Cleveland Police, it was highlighted that the Police had devised a form (Information Report CSE) that could be used by any professional working under the safeguarding agenda in order to inform the Police of any information regarding CSE. This could include names of suspected perpetrators, locations, suspicious vehicles, car registrations, etc. The information received was recorded on the Police Intelligence System and analysed to understand the problem in Middlesbrough and across Teesside to enable a co-ordinated response to take place. Members were reminded of the important part they could play in referring on any information gathered within their Wards.


Members were advised that there were currently 12 young people who had been assessed as being high risk within Middlesbrough and four young people who were regularly missing from home.


It was highlighted that the current Tees Strategic CSE Action Plan (last reviewed in May 2015) was attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report. The Action Plan contained 34 actions, 23 or which were amber, seven which were green and four which were red. All actions were reviewed and progressed at each Strategic VEMT meeting and were grouped into four sections:-

  • Prepare
  • Prevent
  • Protect
  • Pursue

The Strategic VEMT and the Tees Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards had developed and introduced the following documents:-

  • Tees-wide Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Tool (attached at Appendix 2).
  • Tees-wide VEMT Information Sharing Form (Appendix 3).
  • Tees-wide Pathway for identifying, assessing and responding to children at risk of VEMT (Appendix 4).

Middlesbrough had also introduced a Vulnerability Assessment, a copy of which was attached at Appendix 5, to identify the level of vulnerability of a young person referred to the Risk Management Group.


It was highlighted that Members had previously been briefed on the cross governmental inquiry which was taking place. The report had now been produced and provided a review of the impact of CSE in Middlesbrough, taking a number of factors into account. The report concluded that there was "clear acceptance of the challenge in Middlesbrough and practice that appeared to be very positive."


Areas for development and associated actions were outlined at paragraph 20 of the report.


A discussion ensued and the following issues were raised:-

  • Reference was made to there currently being 12 young people assessed as high risk within Middlesbrough and it was queried how this figure compared with historical data and with other areas. Members were advised that each local authority had its own criteria for measuring the data in the past, therefore, defined criteria to be used by everyone had been developed for use by all. The extent of the problem in Middlesbrough was not fully known as only a partial picture was available, therefore, raising awareness and gathering as much information as possible was key.
  • It was queried whether, through raising awareness and gathering more intelligence, the number of vulnerable 'at risk' young people had increased and, if so, whether Middlesbrough had sufficient resources to respond accordingly. The Chair of the MSCB responded that the original scrutiny into the topic had been undertaken by the Panel in response to what was happening in other parts of the country. He highlighted that the greater awareness people had in relation to the subject, the more information and intelligence would be gathered, in turn this would lead to an increase in the numbers of young people deemed to be at risk of, or victims of, exploitation. The Assistant Director added that there were probably sufficient resources at the present time to respond accordingly. Management of resources, including more effective working with other agencies was being explored with the potential to develop more specialist roles for specific staff. Quarterly meetings were held between the Assistant Director of Safeguarding and Children’s Care, the Executive Director of Wellbeing Care and Learning, the Chief Executive and the Chair of the MSCB to ensure that adequate resources were in place.
  • The Chair of the MSCB highlighted concerns around potential further cuts to frontline services which would have a direct impact on the work being undertaken but acknowledged the need to work differently and effectively. 
  • It was also pointed out that whilst the services were currently managing, the implications of what had been identified were not fully known. Whilst a group of young people had been identified as being high risk, there was a bigger cohort of young people underneath that risk level that had the potential to be a bigger issue.
  • In response to a question as to how habitual offenders involved in CSE were dealt with, Members were informed that, where evidence had been gathered to bring about a prosecution, this would be determined by the Police and Crown Prosecution Service.
  • It was acknowledged that children and young people in the care system were risk assessed in terms of vulnerability and it was queried whether those with special needs were taken into account. The Assistant Director responded that this was the case and that a recent seminar in Newcastle had highlighted that the vulnerability of the young person or adult made them vulnerable to exploitation. As such, Newcastle had stopped focussing on child sexual exploitation and now focussed on sexual exploitation due to its wider remit.
  • Reference was made to paragraph 18 of the submitted report and further explanation was requested in relation to ‘changing the culture of denial’. The Chair of the MSCB stated that some institutions had argued that they did not have a problem with CSE, however, the more that cases were publicised, more victims tended to come forward and there was currently a great amount of resources being invested in historical investigations. This posed a challenge as no additional funding had been provided in relation to investigation of current cases.
  • A Panel Member acknowledged that CSE was a national issue of concern and queried whether European countries were working with the UK on the issue. The Chair of the MSCB responded that he was also a member of the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), at a national level, which worked with child protection partners across the UK and overseas. The issue was of growing concern in the online environment and the CEOP was a key organisation in tackling the problem internationally.
  • Reference was made to the Tees CSE Action Plan and action 13) "assertive outreach: provision of multi-agency presence in locations vulnerable young people may attend" and the progress column which stated that monthly 'stay safe' patrols were taking place in the Middlesbrough area. It was highlighted that when the topic had previously been considered by the Panel, it had been suggested that fortnightly patrols would be more appropriate and it was queried whether this had been considered and whether it was likely to happen. The Assistant Director advised that the patrols remained monthly and that three Social Workers supplemented the stay safe operation on a voluntary basis. The aim was to continue the patrols on a monthly basis and there were no plans for the frequency being increased due to it being undertaken on a voluntary basis.

In terms of areas of development, the Chair of the MSCB advised Members of how awareness in relation to CSE was being raised. The most recent issue of 'Love Middlesbrough' magazine, delivered to every home in Middlesbrough, contained an article in relation to protecting children and the launch of the new campaign "In the Wrong Hands". The campaign, led by the four local children’s safeguarding boards aimed to raise awareness and provided advice of what to look out for and where to go for support. The scheme was being rolled out to all secondary schools and youth/community groups across Teesside and included a play, 'Chelsea’s Choice', based on a real-life case.


Details were also provided in relation to a recent 'Click' community web-chat on the Cleveland Police website. The live event had provided people with the opportunity to email their questions or concerns to a Police Officer and the Chair of the MSCB for response. Around 63 people had viewed the web-chat and around 12 questions were received. The event had been useful and consideration would be given to running another in the future.

In addition, discussions were taking place in relation to the development of a South Tees Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub. The CCG/local authority Commissioning Strategy had required the JSNA to be updated to include a more cohesive section on CSE.


The Chair of MSCB concluded that safeguarding was very broad in terms of subject matter and commented that the exploitation agenda was significant. He considered it important for Members to be kept updated and to be aware of the extent of change in Middlesbrough.


In response to a suggestion that all Members of the Council should have the opportunity to receive regular updates in relation to the subject, the Assistant Director advised that he had been requested to attend the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel every six months to provide an update and that discussions were currently ongoing in relation to updating all Members of the Council in the near future.


The Chair thanked the Assistant Director and the Chair of MSCB for their attendance and the useful information provided.


AGREED that the update information presented in relation to the multi-agency response to CSE in Middlesbrough be noted.


The Scrutiny Support Officer submitted a report to provide the Panel with background information in relation to the Prevent agenda.


The report provided details of the UK’s long term strategy for countering international terrorism, known as 'CONTEST'. The aim of the strategy was to reduce the risk from international terrorism so that people could go about their daily lives with confidence and was divided into four principal strands:-

  • Pursue
  • Protect
  • Prepare
  • Prevent

Delivery of the Pursue, Protect and Prepare elements were led by the Police and security services, whereas Prevent was led through a multi-agency approach including local authorities. From February 2015, it was now law that specified authorities must have 'due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.'


In March 2015, a report was presented to the Council’s Executive on Prevent and outlined the new statutory duties placed on local authorities to prevent terrorism and highlighted the requirement to work with local partners (including schools, universities, Police and prisons) to protect the public, prevent crime and to promote strong, integrated communities.


An Action Plan was developed to respond to specific elements of the Prevent agenda and a copy was attached at Appendix 1 of the submitted report. The elements focussing on radicalisation needed to be taken seriously to minimise the potential risk to ensure the safety of residents in Middlesbrough.


J Hill, Community Safety Manager, was in attendance at the meeting to provide Members with an overview in relation to Prevent and the Council’s responsibilities.


Members were informed that Section 26 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 placed a statutory duty on Councils to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. The key themes in response to this duty were as follows:-

  • Understanding risks.
  • Effective leadership.
  • Prevent partnerships.
  • Staff training.
  • Information sharing.

Further explanation in relation to the UKs long term strategy for countering international terrorism, CONTEST, and the four main strands of Pursue, Protect, Prepare and Prevent was provided.


It was highlighted that the current risk to the UK could be divided into three specific groups of extremism:-

  • International extremism, eg Isis.
  • Far Right extremism, eg Neo-Nazis.
  • Far Left extremism, eg anarchists, animal rights.

The Prevent agenda had three specific strategic objectives:-

  • Ideology - respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat faced from those who promoted it.
  • Individuals - prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure they were given appropriate advice and support.
  • Institutions - Work with sectors and institutions where there were risks of radicalisation that needed to be addressed.

Members were advised that the Channel Process was a programme to provide support for individuals who were vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. The programme was voluntary for the person being offered support and had existed in every local area in England and Wales since April 2012. The programme was administered through multi-agency Bronze Panels at a local level.


The Community Safety Manager advised that she was Chair of the Bronze Panel, supported by the Police, and included representatives from various agencies including Health, Education, Housing and Safeguarding.


It was explained that the Channel process worked by initially identifying an individual showing signs of radicalisation. The identification was usually made by a frontline public sector worker and the information would be shared with the Police for initial assessment.


The Police would gather information using the Vulnerability Assessment Framework to determine whether the individual was vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism. If that was the case, they would be deemed suitable for the Channel Process and the assessment would be considered at a Bronze Panel meeting to establish what support would be offered. Appropriate support would be provided and this would be monitored by a Police practitioner on a regular basis through liaison with the support providers and updating the Vulnerability Assessment Framework. All cases were reviewed after six and 12 months of exiting the programme.


It was highlighted that where individuals were considered not to be appropriate for the Channel Process, they would be signposted to other support.


**(At this point in the meeting, the Chair withdrew from the meeting and the Vice Chair took the Chair for the remainder of the meeting). **


In terms of countering terrorism in Middlesbrough, Cleveland Police had developed a Counter Terrorism Local Profile (CTLP) which was a restricted document. The Profile was designed to look at local threat levels across Teesside through a range of routes including Gold, Silver and Bronze Panels, CSP structure and Prevent Operational Group. A Cleveland-wide Prevent Action Plan was in place and Middlesbrough had developed its own Action Plan.


The Community Safety Manager highlighted that the Action Plan was very detailed and suggested that she could return to a future Panel meeting to provide further details.


Members were advised that the following actions had been taken to date:-

  • A dedicated officer had been appointed to work on the Prevent agenda.
  • Operation group and terms of reference had been established to co-ordinate Prevent obligations.
  • A local action plan had been developed.
  • An MBC CTLP (restricted document) had been established.
  • Prevent awareness and Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent (WRAP) ongoing to all front line staff and some local schools.
  • Prevent duty guidance training scheduled for all School Governors.
  • Duty guidance circulated to all School Heads.
  • Channel process map created for all Department Heads.
  • 3 Bronze meetings had been held.
  • 10 referrals to Environmental Services for removal of extremist-related flyposting.
  • The following documents had been developed: risk assessment questionnaire, Channel Vulnerability Assessment, School Self Audit (to identify gaps in Prevent services).

A discussion between Members, the Community Safety Manager and the Chair of the MSCB ensued and the following issues were raised:-

  • In response to a query regarding the extremist-related flyposting, it was confirmed that this had predominantly been in the Gresham area.
  • In response to a question, the Chair of the MSCB advised that there was some evidence of Neo-Nazi groups existing in the local area and that a lot of work was being done by the Police behind the scenes. The Prevent agenda and the structure that was in place focussed on identifying such groups. He added that his current role involved working within schools to ensure that frontline staff were as well informed as possible and who to go to for advice. 
  • In response to a query, it was confirmed that work would be undertaken with Multi-Faith Groups in order to roll out the training and to raise awareness.
  • The Chair of MSCB advised that briefing information had been circulated to Head Teachers and school governors and that the associated training could be completed on line. The Chair of MSCB recommended that it would be beneficial for all Elected Members to complete the training, which would take around 30 minutes. The Community Safety Manager advised that she would liaise with the Scrutiny Support Officer with a view to emailing the relevant link to the training for all Members. Once training had been successfully completed, a certificate was issued to the individual.
  • Following further discussion, the Panel agreed that a briefing should be provided for all Members of the Council in relation to Prevent and that, if possible, Members should aim to have completed the online Prevent training beforehand.

AGREED as follows:-

  1. That the information provided in relation to the Prevent agenda be noted.
  2. That the Community Safety Manager and Chair of MSCB, in liaison with the Scrutiny Support Officer, identify appropriate individuals to assist in delivering a briefing in relation to Prevent to all Members of the Council, at a date to be determined.
  3. That the Community Safety Manager and Scrutiny Support Officer make the necessary arrangements for all Members of the Council to have access to the Prevent online training and request that Members complete the training, if possible, prior to the briefing.

The Chair requested that the Panel note the contents of the submitted report which provided an update on business conducted at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 18 August 2015, namely:-

  • Capital Outturn 2014/15.
  • Revenue Outturn 2014/15.
  • Balanced Scorecards - Year End 2014/15.
  • Scrutiny Panel Progress Reports.

AGREED that the information contained within the report be noted.


The next meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel was scheduled for Monday, 5 October 2015 at 10.30am.

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