Agenda and minutes
Scrutiny Panel 1 Serious Acquisitive Crime and Violent Crime/ Community Safety
Monday, 26 November 2012 6:00 pm
Venue: The Jeffrey Room, The Guildhall, St. Giles Square, Northampton, NN1 1DE. View directions
Contact: Tracy Tiff, Scrutiny Officer, telephone 01604 837408 (direct dial), email firstname.lastname@example.org
Members to note any apologies and substitutions.
Apologies for absence from the meeting were received from Councillors Christopher Malpas, David Palethorpe and Chief Inspector Max Williams.
Members to approve the minutes of the meeting held on 10 October 2012.
The minutes of the meeting held on 10th October 2012 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
Deputations / Public Addresses
The Chair to note public address requests.
The public can speak on any agenda item for a maximum of three minutes per speaker per item. You are not required to register your intention to speak in advance but should arrive at the meeting a few minutes early, complete a Public Address Protocol and notify the Scrutiny Officer of your intention to speak.
There were none.
Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping)
Members to state any interests.
There were none.
The Scrutiny Panel to receive the responses to its core questions from key witnesses:
To receive evidence from
Laura Major, Acting Deputy Head of Community Safety (substantive post Crime Prevention Manager) attended the Panel to discuss responses to the core questions. Written responses had already been submitted from other departments within Northants Police. The main points of discussion were as follows:-
Serious Acquisitive Crime
Across the commands of the police, there are different departments addressing different aspects to tackle Serious Acquisitive Crime, including Local Policing teams, the Crime Prevention team within community safety and the Crime Support department.
The main functions of the Crime Support department are:-
· Intelligence Function
· Burglary and Autocrime Teams- two sites
· Integrated Offender Management (IOM)
The prevention of SAC through detection of crime and reducing reoffending is within the remit of the IOM.
Wider preventative strategies sit within District Safer Community Teams and the Community Safety Department, with the Crime Prevention Officers, and Crime Prevention Design Advisors (CPDA). The role of the CPDA is to ‘design out crime’ at the planning stage in new and regenerated developments.
The District Chief Inspector and Police Crime Prevention Manager attend the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) and take part in identifying priority locations and then target resources accordingly. The police have an analyst team which identify crime patterns and seasonal peaks. Both local policing teams and Crime Prevention Officers work alongside NBC on areas identified for partnership work and prevention of crime.
Under Operation Guardian there are High Impact Days targeting specific SAC crime (burglary/vehicle crime/robbery), these are undertaken on particular areas, and include enforcement activity around offenders as well as prevention and community engagement.
IOM works closely with the probation services to assess offender’s needs and potential pathways out of offending as well as enforcement.
There is good engagement with the Council but there needs to be further high level engagement around policies. For example, it is not understood how housing and maintenance prioritise upgrades and continued maintenance programmes and whether these are in line with the priorities set within the CSP. It would also be useful to have more engagement prior to planning application determinations, at the pre application stage.
There have been challenges as both partner organisations have undertaken structure changes, which do highlight gaps. There needs to be work done on how to fill the gap previously covered by Neighbourhood Coordinators.
In addition the police have started an intensive engagement project, with 4 projects Countywide. The Northampton project is looking at community engagement with a view to improving SAC levels. This work has highlighted a gap with no clear partnership forum available to set community identified prioritised, and to work with partners (including the community) on the necessary solutions.
Reduction of re- offending in Northampton could be helped if it featured as a Borough priority in support of the Community Safety Strategy.
A written submission has been provided in relation to Operation Challenge, focusing on violent crime.
The Crime Prevention Officers, undertake home surveys of high risk victims of Domestic Abuse and utilise funding as and when available to implement safety measures in ... view the full minutes text for item 5a
To receive evidence from Deborah Prestbury, IOM Team Northants Probation.
Denise Meylan, the Director of Offender Management at Northants Probation attended the meeting to answer the core questions.
The main points were as follows:-
Northants Probation has the overall responsibility for supervising over 3,200 offenders across Northamptonshire, of which approximately 2,300 are in the community.
The fundamental aims of the service are to offer public protection and to reduce the level of re offending by promoting full rehabilitation; they are also involved in the enforcement of community orders as set by Courts and licence requirements for prisoners released from custody.
Serious Acquisitive Crime
The starting point is to do a full assessment, using a tool called OASys, this is very effective in profiling the offender and making evaluations The assessment informs the involvement with internal teams and external agencies such as the Police and Drugs and Alcohol teams.
Prevention of crime is not a statutory requirement of the Probation Service although obviously they work with the Police and will often be able to flag whether an offender is at risk of reoffending.
One of the significant issues is that of finding suitable accommodation. It could be a significant problem if those offenders who are most violent cannot be housed as this could put the public at significant risk. Suitable accommodation also assists the chances of those offenders being able to find stable employment and become part of a community. There are also some families where persistent offender behaviour is now being repeated through different generations- this is being tackled through the ‘troubled families’ initiative.
Within NPT , we have dedicated professional and qualified staff who have the key responsibility for discharging offence focused work with offenders and ensuring that requirements of court orders and licences are met. Some of our work is supported by the Reach Project which takes key groups of offenders and the core remit is to assist them in securing training and employment. With police colleagues we also have a team, named Integrated Offender Management (IOM) which seeks to address violent and acquisitive crime with mainly male offenders. The typical age range is 18-30 and many are alcohol and/or drug dependent.
It is also important to maximise information sharing and make sure that all relevant agencies are given information in a timely way.
The Police are the organisation most responsible for reducing serious acquisitive crime however the Probation Service are committed to reducing re offending rates.
The Police Crime Commissioner should provide a strategic overview. They should also have a good understanding of local issues, hotspots and crime profiling. They need to have regular quality briefings with key partners.
She also felt that if agencies are given funding then they should be required to account for the money spent and be clearer about outcomes to fit and meet local priorities.
With specific regard to violent crime, the Probation Service runs an integrated domestic violence programme. This is a programme of 18 month duration. ... view the full minutes text for item 5b
Hassan Shah from the Pakistani Welfare Trust attended the Panel to discuss answers to the key questions.
The main points of the discussion were as follows:-
The Asian gold thefts were an example where the local community had been instrumental in getting action taken to resolve a problem. The gold thefts were targeting the Asian community as it was known that they kept high value jewellery in their homes. Initially however the Police did not consider that the statistics highlighted that there was a problem. Ultimately there was a good community response and the Police did identify patterns relating to the thefts which did indicate specific targeting. There was a wide spread publicity campaign involving the targeted communities and full investigations leading to some prosecutions.
It was pointed out that currently there were no checks if people went to sell gold, which makes it an easy commodity to dispose of.
Another area of concern was that of violence to taxi drivers. This often started as fare dodging, but had on occasion ended up in a case of serious assault.
As a good number of the Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Muslim community are taxi drivers if they feel that when they are victims of crime not much is done, then this colours the view held of the Police/ Council/ other authorities by the wider Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Muslim communities thereby having a disproportionate effect on the community, if the community feels that appropriate action is not being taken.
There was also a feeling that drivers were being persecuted as there were consultations going on about making the condition policy stricter. Drivers felt that this was an unfair burden at a time when it was hard to make a living. It was emphasised that this was related to work being done on making taxis safer. He also considered that some of the enforcement action undertaken whereby officers flag down private hires vehicles was unfair. If they are caught then it is directly taken to prosecution, leading to fines and at least temporary suspension of a licence. However officers stated that there was now a course which the driver could attend giving an option of avoiding prosecution.
Mr Shah raised installation of CCTV in taxis. This had been looked into in the past, but because of the number of taxis involved it would prove too expensive. He considered that it could be introduced in a small number of vehicles as a pilot.
He felt that the most important issue was for the Police and Council to build trust and confidence with the Pakistani/ Muslim community. Unless that was done then if the perpetrator of crime came from within that community e.g honour based violence, the Police/Council would need to engage with the community but would find it difficult to do so.
Members of the Panel thanked Mr Shah for his attendance.
Lucy Westley from the Sunflower Centre gave the Panel responding to the key questions.
The main points of the discussion were as follows:-
The Centre is run for the victims of domestic abuse so she was answering the questions from the violent crime viewpoint only.
She considered that the whole issue of domestic violence was so vast that it could be considered as a separate Scrutiny Review.
Last year there were more than 12,000 reported incidents of domestic abuse in Northamptonshire, 4,997 of which were from the Northampton Borough area. In the first quarter of this year 49% of all of the centre referrals are from the Northampton Borough area. Whilst there are no statistics available locally yet on the impact of the service on repeat victimisation, national statistics provided by CAADA show that in 57% of cases there is no further abuse or violence after intervention.
The Sunflower Centre is an independent domestic violence advisory service. It is a very victim focussed service providing safety advice and support including signposting to housing, criminal and civil matters and support through court. We are strongly linked to the Multi agency risk assessment conferences providing the victim’s voice and wishes.
Referrals come largely from the Police (approximately 60%). The service is hosted by Northamptonshire Police therefore all information regarding risk is all directly available to the Police on their systems.
The Centre does a large amount of multi-agency liaison work including with prisoner release, awareness training with other agencies, and education through schools, encouraging reporting and community involvement.
Housing is also an issue for the Centre; it does not have any accommodation itself, but has found in the last year that it is harder to get accommodation both through refuge and housing because of cuts to service. Lucy questioned why the emphasis was on moving the victim out of the family home when they should be looking to move the offender and where possible making the victim safer in their own home as this can be more cost effective. Lucy advised as refuge was cut the pressure on target hardening and civil orders will be greater and these are also facing pressure.
There are often cases involving complex needs such as mental health/ substance misuse where there are multi agency problems and it is difficult to agree who will take the lead. These can be the most difficult cases.
Being in employment may also be a barrier to getting assistance and the victim may not be able to obtain legal aid or to pay for refuge.
There has been an on-going pilot of a Specialist Domestic Abuse Court over the last 5 months regarding getting domestic violence cases into the court system. However, because of the amount of time that it takes to get a case to trial many victims withdraw because of pressures from the offender. Initial hearings progress quickly but follow up trials are a much longer timeframe.
There are a few people who are serial offenders and they move ... view the full minutes text for item 5d
The Panel received a written response on the core questions from the Neighbourhood Wardens.
Previously there had been some concern that with the loss of the Neighbourhood coordinators, there would be more expected of the Neighbourhood Wardens and members wanted to be sure that there would be sufficient training and support offered to enable to fulfil that role. Members still felt that they wished to be able to ask that question directly.
AGREED: That the supervisor of the Neighbourhood Wardens be invited to attend the next meeting of the Panel.
The Panel to consider a briefing note detailing the findings of its recent site visit to Spencer Ward.
The Panel considered a briefing note on the site visit to Spencer and Kings Heath.
The main points of discussion were as follows:
It was thought that there had now been planning applications made on both of the pub sites.
Members felt that were there were “hotspots” where there were identified requirements that may help to prevent further deterioration that there should be some system of being able to provide a quicker response.
1. That the information gathered from the site visit to Spencer and Kings Heath Wards be used to inform the Panel’s evidence base.
2. That the Chair of the Panel contacts Planning Services to ascertain the status of the Morris Man and Silver Cornet sites.
3. There is a need for all service areas involved in community safety to attend meetings of the Community Safety Partnership..