Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel Minutes

Date:
Monday 21 December 2015
Time:
10:30 a.m.
Place:
Spencer Room, Town Hall, Middlesbrough
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor F McIntyre (Chair), Councillor L Lewis (Vice Chair); Councillor A Hellaoui, Councillor J Hobson, Councillor B A Hubbard, Councillor Z Uddin and Councillor M Walters.
Officers:
C Breheny and J Dixon.
Apologies for absence:
Councillor J Goodchild, Councillor P Purvis.
Declarations of interest:

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

Item Number Item/Resolution
PUBLIC
15/26 MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING OF THE COMMUNITY SAFETY AND LEISURE SCRUTINY PANEL HELD ON 16 NOVEMBER 2015.

The Minutes of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 16 November 2015 were submitted and approved as a correct record.

15/27 RE-OFFENDING AND REHABILITATION - HOW DOES MIDDLESBROUGH FARE? - FURTHER INFORMATION.

The Scrutiny Support Officer submitted a report to provide further information to the Panel in relation to its current scrutiny topic, "Re-offending and Rehabilitation - How does Middlesbrough Fare?"

 

The Panel had previously heard evidence from the Council’s Community Safety Manager, the Head of Re-offending and Rehabilitation at Holme House Prison and the Chief Superintendent, Cleveland Police (IOM) and the Chief Executive and Head of Reoffending at Durham Tees Valley CRC.

 

In accordance with the established terms of reference, J Allen, Head of Cleveland Area, National Probation Service (NPS) North East, was in attendance at the meeting to provide further information to Members.

 

The Panel was advised that re-offending data could not be provided at the present time for a variety of reasons resulting from the massive changes that had taken place due to the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which had seen the Probation Service split into two organisations. The changes had included a transfer to national and regional IT systems from local systems.

 

The Head of Cleveland NPS stated that the reforms had seen a split in services with a new public sector National Probation Service (NPS) managing all high risk offenders and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies managing all other offenders (low to medium risk). These organisations replaced the original 35 probation trusts that previously operated across the country.

 

On a local level, caseload management was split with around 30% of offenders being managed by NPS and around 70% of offenders being managed by the CRC. The initial 70% - 30% split was the subject of ongoing discussion as it was currently more of a 60% - 40% split, with occasions where a 50% - 50% split had occurred. It was highlighted that the previous Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust had covered all of the Tees Valley and Durham. Under the new arrangements, the NPS covered the Tees Valley areas only (Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland), whilst the CRC covered the Tees Valley and Durham.

 

The key roles of Cleveland NPS was to protect the public, support victims, reduce reoffending and to rehabilitate high risk offenders by tackling the causes of offending. The Cleveland NPS assessed offenders and prepared pre-sentence reports for Courts to help them select the most appropriate sentence. The Cleveland NPS worked closely with the DTV CRC and other partners to manage high risk offenders within the community, ie those who posed the highest risk of harm and/or those who had committed serious offences with a sentence of 12 months or more. Those offenders who had committed violent offences or sex offences were eligible for MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements). A copy of the Teesside MAPPA Annual Report 2014-15 had been circulated to the Panel with the paperwork prior to the meeting. The MAPPA process worked by agencies joining together to share information in order to protect the public by monitoring offenders within the community.

 

In terms of the processes followed, once an offender was sentenced, an initial risk assessment was completed by the Probation Service in Court using the RSR tool. The assessment would determine whether the offender was suitable to be managed/supervised by the CRC or the NPS. As previously stated, the NPS managed high risk offenders. It was highlighted that where the risk dynamic changed and increased, for example, an offender being supervised by the CRC whose risk had increased would have a risk escalation assessment completed by the CRC in liaison with the NPS. Where their assessment resulted in an escalation to high risk, the offender would be transferred to the NPS and would remain under NPS management for the remainder of their licence or order. This ensured a high level of consistency.

 

The Panel was advised that Durham Tees Valley had always been a high performing area in terms of probation and Cleveland NPS remained high performing. Since the new arrangements had come into being, Cleveland NPS had been the top performing area on at least five occasions and had always been within the top six performing areas on the performance chart. Cleveland NPS and DTV CRC continued to have one of the best joint working relationships in the country. The two organisations met on a regular basis and had a constant open dialogue. The DTV CRC would be working from community hubs in the near future, however, there had been some delays due to national IT issues. In the meantime, DTV CRC staff remained within the NPS buildings. Whilst the DTV CRC had experienced changes with agile working, etc, there had not been any major changes, as yet, to the structure of the NPS. The Cleveland NPS currently occupied two Middlesbrough town centre buildings and this would reduce to one building, and a Team was also located within the Court buildings. It was a possibility that the NPS would have the opportunity to purchase some services from the CRC, in the future, in terms of offender management where the offender’s risk had reduced.

 

The Panel was informed that Cleveland NPS currently supervised a total of around 1,300 offenders, 420 of which were in the Middlesbrough cluster. 86 of those were the subject of Community Orders and 126 were post-release offenders (ie they had been in custody and were now being supervised on licence). 208 of those 420 offenders were in custody waiting to be released at some point in the future.

 

Each offender was banded on a tier system with level one being low risk, level two being low to medium risk, level three being medium risk and level four being high risk. Of the 420 supervised offenders in Middlesbrough, 269 were tier four cases, 99 were tier three cases, 51 were tier two cases and one person was a tier one case. These figures fluctuated at times depending upon custody and sentencing.

 

At the present moment caseloads were as follows: Hartlepool - 170 cases, Middlesbrough - 420, Redcar and Cleveland - 111, South Bank - 77, Stockton - 273. Middlesbrough was the largest area with the majority of cases falling within the TS1 postcode.

 

In terms of staffing, 14 Probation Officers were employed within Middlesbrough and had an average caseload of 31 cases. This was the maximum capacity of probation officers permitted on the staffing establishment. It was highlighted that all staff were civil servants and employed by the Government which had been a significant culture change in terms of moving from dedicated training and IT departments to shared services.

 

The Panel was advised that there would be a further review of the NPS structure through the E3 Programme. E3 stood for effectiveness, efficiency and excellence and was created following the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme in June 2014.

 

Each of the services provided by the NPS were looking at vast changes with a National Framework being introduced, which would clarify the responsibilities of the NPS towards each service. This would have an effect on role responsibilities for Probation Service Officers and Probation Officers, with more responsibility being given to Probation Service Officers.

 

The aim was to address variations in order to provide a consistent service delivery model throughout the seven divisions, rather than continuing to function via a range of procedures used in the former Probation Trusts. To do this the NPS was looking to provide improvement on the IT systems. Training was another area that would be standardised, with more e-learning being used. This would also result in efficiency savings that were required to be made. Other efficiencies had also been introduced such as increased use of video and telephone conferencing wherever possible (and safe to do so) reducing travel. Probation Officers were now required to obtain permission to travel outside of the Cleveland area prior to travelling.

 

It was highlighted that a recent inspection of the services provided by NPS Cleveland had been extremely positive. The full inspection report was awaited, but informal feedback highlighted good partnership working, strong analysis and risk management, and one of the best areas in terms of working with the local CRC.

 

During the ensuing discussion, the following issues were raised:-

  • In response to a question in relation to staffing and recruitment, the Panel was advised that the NPS continued to take on PQFs (Probation Qualifications Framework) and newly qualified Probation Officers. The Cleveland NPS currently had five such employees who were 'training on the job'.
  • In response to a query, it was stated that there were currently five offenders subject to the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) programme in Middlesbrough. IOMs were those at highest risk of re-offending and the Police worked directly with them. Where offenders were deemed to be high or very high risk and posed the highest risk of harm in the community, they may be made subject to MAPPA arrangements. The Head of the Cleveland Probation Service informed that she chaired the level 3 meetings for the Cleveland area (currently two very high risk offenders).
  • It was queried whether NPS envisaged any problems as a result of immigration. The Head of Cleveland Probation Service stated that she, and her Manager, sat on several Panels that looked at refugee numbers, including silver and gold Contest Groups. There were currently procedures in place to deal with non-English speaking offenders, however, if the numbers increased it may impact on the ability of staff to supervise them effectively and arrangements would need to be reconsidered.
  • In response to a query as to whether the service linked up with mental health services, Members were advised that, whilst in prison, offenders would be referred to the appropriate health services where necessary and the NPS would refer offenders to the appropriate health service and/or MAPPA.

The Chair thanked the Head of Cleveland Probation Service for attending and for the information provided.

 

AGREED that the information provided be noted.
 

15/28 UPDATE - ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, CRIME AND POLICING ACT 2014.

The Scrutiny Support Officer submitted a report to update the Panel in respect of the local implementation of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

 

The Panel had previously been advised that the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 came into force on 20 October 2014. The legislation had reduced the previous 19 anti-social behaviour tools and powers to six to allow for quicker, more effective remedies.


The Act also provided victims with a greater degree of say in how low level anti-social behaviour and crime was handled. The Community Trigger and Community Remedy were two new measures that were introduced as part of the Act.

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the submitted report was a copy of Middlesbrough’s Community Trigger procedure and flowchart.

 

D Gibson, Cleveland Police’s Restorative Justice Co-ordinator, was in attendance at the meeting to provide Members with information in relation to Community Remedy.

 

The Restorative Justice Co-ordinator explained that Community Remedy provided an opportunity for victims to have a say in how offenders should be punished, out of Court, for low level crime and anti-social behaviour.

 

Community Remedy was created following consultation by the Police and Crime Commissioner with members of the public and community representatives to establish the most appropriate interventions.

 

Community Remedy could be used when a Community Resolution or Conditional Caution were used by the Police when dealing with low level crime/anti-social behaviour when the offender admitted responsibility for their actions.

 

A Community Remedy leaflet was circulated to the Panel for information. It explained the options available to the victim:-

  • Face to face or written apology.
  • Engagement with parents.
  • Restorative Justice Conference - to meet the offender in the presence of a trained facilitator to discuss the impact the incident had on the victim.
  • Reparation - to repair the damage either to the victim’s property or undertaken as part of a community scheme.
  • Monetary compensation for damage caused to property or loss to the victim.
  • Appropriate targeted intervention, such as helping to address the offender’s alcohol, drug or welfare issues.

Police Officers used the form to discuss the options available with the victim, in cases where the crime was appropriate to be dealt with through Community Remedy. The leaflet also provided the necessary information for officers, including the targeted interventions available.

 

It was highlighted that in the Cleveland area, Police Officers had issued 51 conditional cautions since April 2015. In comparison, 661 simple cautions had been issued during the same period, and, as Community Remedy could only be used when a conditional caution was issues (and not a simple caution), further training would be provided to Officers to encourage the use of conditional cautions, where appropriate.

 

Community Remedy was launched in August 2015 and had been used on 53 occasions to date. Of those 53, the following outcomes had been chosen: 38 apologies (either by letter or face to face), two - reparation, 10 - monetary compensation and three - mediation (all anger management).

 

The targeted interventions available included:-

  • Drug or alcohol referral to appropriate intervention agency. This could be used for any offender with drug and/or alcohol issues where the issue related to the reason for the crime being committed (eg theft to fund habit).
  • Victim awareness course. This was a three-hour course for offenders to reflect on the impact of the crime they had committed. The course was available to over 18s and the £55 course fee must be paid by the offender.
  • Mediation. Where an Officer felt it was appropriate, the victim could be offered the following choices under targeted intervention:-
  • Family mediation - to resolve any family issues if appropriate to the offence.
  • Community mediation - if the offence occurred due to a neighbourhood dispute.
  • Anger management - if the offence related to anger issues on the part of the offender.
  • Fairbridge Programme - one-to-one support and group activities to stabilise lives and build life skills.

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

  • In response to a query, it was confirmed that where an offender was unable to read or write or speak English, arrangements would be made for a friend or family member to be present and help would be offered by the Police Officer and an interpreter if necessary.
  • It was queried whether an illiterate offender would be offered appropriate help and support afterwards to address their issues. The Restorative Justice Co-ordinator stated that she hoped the Police Officer would discuss this with the offender but felt that this was something that could be explored further.
  • In response to a question regarding the offender’s willingness to participate in Community Remedy, the Panel was advised that it was essential for the offender to be willing to participate, otherwise they would be dealt with in Court.
  • In relation to the victim awareness course, it was queried what would happen if the offender was unable to pay the £55 course fee. The Restorative Justice Co-ordinator stated that when an offender was unable to pay the fee, the Police Officer would return to the victim to try to negotiate an alternative.
  • In response to a question it was explained that the Fairbridge programme was available to 16-24 year olds that were not in full time education or employment. The programme consisted of a five-day compulsory course, however, offenders could choose to remain on the programme for up to 12 weeks.
  • Clarification was provided that Community Remedy was a national scheme that had been tailored locally for Cleveland following consultation with members of the public. The scheme could be used throughout the criminal justice system and victims could self-refer or be referred from other agencies such as victim support. Any referrals were received by the Restorative Justice Co-ordinator and allocated to the relevant agency (eg local authority, Youth Offending Service, etc).
  • The Restorative Justice Co-ordinator stated that greater promotion of Community Remedy was being explored. A Panel Member suggested that the Co-ordinator might wish to promote the process through providing briefings at local community council meetings and also via the local media.
  • In response to a query, it was confirmed that PCSOs could use community remedy for anti-social behaviour issues.
  • It was anticipated that around 60-90 restorative initiatives per month would be used across Cleveland and feedback from victims would be assessed, as would the targeted initiatives to assess those that were most frequently used and what appeared to be working best.

The Chair thanked the Restorative Justice Co-ordinator for her attendance and the useful information provided.

 

AGREED that the information provided be noted.
 

15/29 OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY BOARD UPDATE.

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 8 December 2015, namely:-

  • Attendance of Executive Member for Education and Skills.
  • Balanced Scorecards - Quarter Two.
  • Capital Monitoring First Review 2015-16.
  • Revenue Budget Second Review 2015-16.
  • Scrutiny and the Voluntary and Community Sector.
  • Scrutiny Panel Progress Reports.
  • Ad-Hoc Scrutiny Panel.

AGREED that the information contained within the report be noted.

15/30 DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING - MONDAY, 18 JANUARY 2016 AT 10.30AM.

The next meeting of the Community Safety and Leisure Scrutiny Panel was scheduled for Monday, 18 January 2016 at 10.30am.

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