Overview & Scrutiny Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 16th March, 2017
Time:
7.30 pm
Place:
New Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reigate
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Present: Councillors B. Stead (Chairman), Mrs R.H. Absalom, R. Ashford, M. Blacker, R. Coad, J.C.S Essex, J.S. Godden, N.D. Harrison, R.S. Mantle, S.Parnall, Mrs D.A. Ross-Tomlin, J.M. Stephenson and C. Stevens.
Also Present:
Councillors J. Durrant and Mrs R. Turner.
Min NoDescriptionResolution
Part I
47 MINUTES

The Chairman presented the Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee as a correct record, following which Members offered comments in relation to their style for recording the presentations made; other content and the practice of providing information gathered after the meeting.


The Committee noted the minutes were not a verbatim record of the meeting, but a record of the key issues and decisions and that they sought to record sensitive matters with discretion and diplomacy for the public record.
The Chairman took the opportunity to address the request made by the Committee, at its last meeting, to scrutinise the Health and Well Being Company, “Pathway”, at either this or the April 2017 Committee meeting. Following discussion the Committee reconfirmed its request for a report on the governance arrangements of Pathway at its April meeting.


RESOLVED that:


(i) the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 February 2017 be signed as an accurate record, following the explanation provided at the meeting, and the style adopted be referred to the Democratic Services Team Leader for consideration in relation to future minutes presented to the Committee; and
(ii) the Committee’s emphasis for an early review of the governance arrangements between the Council and the Health and Well Being company “Pathway” be noted and the Executive be requested to approve that this is brought to the Committee in April 2017.
 

48 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Committee Members: Cllr Z. Grant-Duff, for whom Cllr D. Jackson had been substituted but who had also sent apologies.


Other Members: None
 

49 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

None.

50 ANNUAL SCRUTINY OF THE WORK OF THE EAST SURREY COMMUNITY SAFETY PARTNERSHIP

The Chairman invited Licensing & Regulation Officer, Ben Murray, to introduce the report. The Committee heard that it was a statutory requirement for scrutiny of the Community Safety partnership to occur annually. The East Surrey Community Safety Partnership (ESCSP) was formed in 2012 and comprised Tandridge District Council, Reigate & Banstead Borough Council and Mole Valley District Council, with Epsom & Ewell Borough Council currently progressing membership, subject to the approval of the Police & Crime Commissioner. The Committee noted that the Chairman of the ESCSP had been unable to attend the meeting.


The Chairman welcomed the following guests to the meeting:
Cllr Kay Hammond (Surrey County Council and Reigate and Banstead Local Committee);
Angie Austin (Inspector, Reigate and Banstead Borough Police);
Gordon Falconer (Community Safety Manager, Surrey County Council); and
Rowena Zelley (Surrey County Council Community Partnership team, supporting the Reigate & Banstead Local Committee).


Following introductory comments on the report the following points were made:


• The Joint Action Group (JAG) and the reasoning behind the limitation of Wi-Fi at a fast food outlet. The Committee heard that this was to discourage loitering for the purposes of Wi-Fi access, which had had a tendency to lead to anti-social behaviour in Redhill town centre.


• The Family Support Programme (FSP) and the measurement of its outcomes and returns. The Committee heard that the Surrey Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), which was located at Guildford police Station, had recently been established and worked in conjunction with FSP and other services. MASH was created pursuant to Ofsted recommendations to ensure information was shared between all relevant agencies (social services, police and health agencies) in the interests of protecting vulnerable residents. At this early stage it was not possible to assess the success of this method of information coordination but Cllr Hammond stated that this solution would appear to be the most logical approach. The preventative nature of the approach was a significant feature.


• The Prolific and Priority Offender Management Panel (PPOMP) and the aim of this panel. The Committee heard that the key aim was rehabilitation. It was recognised that having employment and housing were key factors in the discouraging of reoffending.


• The Committee noted regret that the report presented did not include figures or numeric data as per the Committee’s request at the last meeting. The Licensing & Regulation Officer explained that this was due to the timing of the meeting because the ESCSP was scrutinised by other authorities in November, at which time such data would be easily available. the Committee proposed to align Reigate & Banstead Council’s annual scrutiny so that it would occur in November 2017 this year and henceforth.. The Committee requested in particular a focus on borough rather than county information.


• The Chairman invited Sarah Crosbie, Community Safety Officer, to explain crime prevention work occurring in the borough. By way of example, the Identification, Referral and Improvement to Safety (IRIS) project was referenced. To date this project had assisted around 60 women locally who had suffered domestic abuse but due to either rural locations or their demographic were unlikely to self-refer for assistance from agencies. The IRIS project had identified these women who were not on the radar of any other agencies. The nature of many of the local projects was preventative making quantification of results difficult if not impossible. Success was better illustrated by way of case studies. The Committee heard that all of the projects operated according to national best practice. The Committee thanked Sarah Crosbie for her explanation of the local projects.


• The Committee heard that the countywide Community Safety Board had met on 15 March to consider the work carried out across the county, and at borough level. There was a suite of information available on Surrey-i.


• Legislation required that second tier authorities have a countywide Community Safety Board although it could make no demands upon the ESCSP, only the Police and Crime Commissioner could hold the ESCSP to account. Following initial teething problems in 2014/15 when it was first established, the ESCSP had performed well and was unique in Surrey in having a collaborative relationship between the partners. As a result, whilst there were large countywide issues such as counter-terrorism (which was being addressed nationwide by the Prevent strategy), the delivery was focused locally and efforts were only combined when several areas had the same or similar needs.


• The Council heard from Borough Inspector Angie Austin regarding statistics for Reigate & Banstead Borough Police. The Committee heard significant statistics which included:
o 40% of all domestic abuse cases in the ESCSP area occurred within Reigate & Banstead.
o Reigate & Banstead had approximately 550 volume crimes under investigation (these included crimes relating to vulnerable residents in for example children’s homes and hospitals) whereas other ESCSP partners had around 200 each.
o On a daily basis, the Reigate & Banstead police addressed on average 6 mental health incidents a day (each of which could require 4-6 hours of police time), 7 domestic abuse incidents (which could include threatening communications by text) and 2 burglaries. The work involved in investigating these incidents reduced the apparent visibility of the police in the community.
o The current priorities were safeguarding of vulnerable residents, sexual and serious violence and child sexual exploitation (CSE), in respect of which the police were actively involved with MASH and Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC).
o Anti-social behaviour (ASB) in Redhill, including drug dealing, had prompted the creation of a specific group to address these local problems (Joint Action Group or JAG).
o Community engagement was limited to essential attendances due to resource pressures. It was noted that online non-emergency crime reporting was encouraged, especially so that telephone resources were only used by those genuinely without internet access, and the Committee was reassured that online crime reporting was given the same level of attention as telephone reports. The online “In-the-Know” information service had had a disappointing uptake of just 242 residents. The Committee noted that an alternative source of local crime information was the website www.police.uk.
o The Committee was pleased to hear from Cllr Durrant that there was a focus on increasing JET’s powers to enable them to address lower level issues such as parking on pavements or in the vicinity of schools, where such parking constituted a hazard.
o The desire of those in the north of the borough to have a relationship with their local police sergeant was noted and the Ward Councillors were invited to contact their local sergeant directly and to suggest six-monthly meetings.
o The Committee asked about the perception of safety by the public and it was noted that the area of highest crime, Redhill, had the highest satisfaction level. The north of the borough in fact had the lowest rate of crime and that area was the least satisfied. Confidence in the services lay in the fact many residents had no need to use the services. Reigate & Banstead Police have the highest rate of satisfaction in East Surrey in respect of ASB.
o The Committee asked about hate crime rates following Brexit and were pleased to hear that these had not increased. The majority of hate related incidents that did in fact occur were invariably neighbour disputes, with a background that transcended the issue of race.
o The Committee noted that the CSE concerns focussed on relationships between girls aged 13-15 and men in their late teens and early twenties. There was a risk of grooming in these relationships, which the police were alive to and were working to prevent occurring.


The Chairman thanked the guests for attending and answering the Committee’s questions.


RESOLVED that the comments of the Committee be noted and that the scrutiny of the ESCSP be aligned for a future date to coincide with the reviews being undertaken by other partners within the Committee’s Work Programme.
 

51 PORTFOLIO HOLDER BRIEFING

The Chairman invited Cllr Durrant, portfolio holder for Enforcement, to give his presentation regarding his portfolio.


Questions and comments from Committee Members related to:


• The Committee was pleased to hear that a recent court appeal against the Council’s decision to revoke a taxi driver’s licence prior to investigation of an allegation of inappropriate behaviour had been dismissed by the Magistrates Court. This confirmed the ability and correct approach of the Council in revoking licences prior to investigation in serous circumstances.


• The Committee was pleased to hear that there was a more focused approach to JET compared to when the team was first constituted. Effective use of existing powers was the current focus of that team.


• In respect of ASB and littering offences, it was noted that a uniformed presence was an effective deterrent and JET officers frequently accompanied PCSOs for this purpose. The close work between the police and JET had improved information sharing.


• The close work with police in respect of traveller incursions was noted that sought Community Protection Notices (CPNs) in conjunction with eviction notices to prevent travellers returning to borough land. In dealing with such incidents, officer safety was also a key concern.


• The Committee was interested to hear that modern slavery was an issue within the borough and that this primarily related to bonded labour such as truck drivers and nail bar workers who worked for no or little wages.
 

• The Committee asked about fly tipping figures and there was some confusion regarding whether this had increased. Cllr Durrant advised that his understanding was that the number of incidents had not increased but the volume had significantly increased. Cllr Durrant advised that he would seek clarification for the Committee. It was noted that Cormongers Lane was particularly suffering from the blight of fly tipping.


• The Committee asked about the frequency of food inspections and heard that this was a risk based regime that meant that those with a consistently high record could use a self-reporting regime, which an officer would then assess to determine whether a visit was required. At the other end of the spectrum, poorly performing premises could receive weekly visits. The Council employed 3 FTE officers to conduct inspections.


• The Committee noted that training and accreditation for JET members was planned to assist with high pressures of work and to increase their powers and abilities in this area.
 

• The Committee considered the incidence of dog-fouling offences and the difficulty in prosecuting resulting in deterrent activities and providing more dog litter bins instead.


The Chairman and Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder for Enforcement for his excellent and wide-ranging briefing.


RESOLVED that the Executive Member for Enforcement be thanked for briefing the Committee and responding to questions.
 

52 QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE REPORT (OCTOBER - DECEMBER 2016)

The Chairman introduced to the Committee the Q3 Performance Report that detailed the major variances on performance in relation to the Council’s revenue budget, capital budget, Key Services Indicators and risk management for the period up to December 2016. The report included information about the performance against the indicators set out in the 5 Year Plan 2015-20 during the first six months of 2016/17.

 

The Committee discussed various items within the report, with individual comments made on the following:

 

• Waste Blueprint and ensuring sufficient funds were provided.


• DMP Scrutiny, to enable the Committee to consider these important policies. Concern was raised that Member briefings needed to avoid other events, such as Star for a Night. The Chairman advised that the LDF Panel would be reconvened for this purpose and Cllr Schofield would be consulted in respect of the method in which such a significant and detailed document should be scrutinised.


• Risks, and ensuring these were updated in light of changing context and the Council’s approach to finance and borrowing.


• Driver & Vehicle Licensing Internal Audit, where actions had already been taken to resolve the internal audit recommendations.


• LGA Action Plan Progress, and ensuring that this was updated to reflect new staff responsibilities.

 

The Chairman noted that the questions and comments from the Committee would be noted and referred back to the appropriate officers/members.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.
 

53 EXECUTIVE

It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.

54 ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

There was none.

The meeting closed at 10:00 p.m.