Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Suite. View directions
The Minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2013 were signed by the Chair.
With reference to Minute 21 (14.01.2013):-
· Cllr Peter Rayner requested an update on the changes in the Probation Service.
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) advised she would contact the Probation Service to request a briefing note on the changes and will circulate it to Members.
· Cllr Senja Compton advised that she had not received any Minutes from the Reducing Re-offending Sub-Group.
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) advised she would check and update the circulation list.
Declarations of Interest
Cllrs Jean Averibou, Senja Compton, Rob Halpin and Brian Sangha declared an “Other Interest” in item 5 - Reducing Re-offending Scrutiny Review – Update on Progress as they all have a connection with offenders/ex-offenders through work and/or the mentoring scheme.
Further to Minute 21 (14.01.2013), the Strategic Manager (Community Safety) presented the Committee with a report which provided details of multi-agency activity that has taken place to address the Community Safety priority of Reducing Re?offending since the subject was considered last year and reviewed progress against the recommendations made by the Committee and endorsed by the Dartford and Gravesham Community Safety Partnership (CSP) and Cabinet at that time.
The Committee discussed each recommendation in turn which included a brief update from officers and partner agencies on the work undertaken to date to assist with the delivery of each recommendation.
With regard to recommendation two, the Strategic Manager (Community Safety) advised that the aim is not to give ex-offenders preferential treatment but to ensure that they are able to identify those opportunities available to them and have an equal chance to succeed.
Members were advised that the following areas will continue to be key:-
· to identify new training opportunities or initiatives to help reduce re?offending;
· to identify those employers who are willing to assist with helping ex-offenders get back into work; and
· encourage enhanced data-sharing between agencies to ensure that as much as possible can be done to address potential problems/factors in advance of an individual’s release date e.g. the completion of relevant claim/application forms, lack of identification documents etc.
Members were apprised of the No Walls Gardens Project which provides ex?offenders, who do not have employment or training available to them on release, to learn landscape gardening and woodwork skills together with interpersonal skills such as responsibility, discipline, mindfulness, respect for the environment and others. The project has undertaken work in the Northfleet North area improving communal areas and in and around community buildings. The project is expanding to include not only ex-offenders but also long-term unemployed and other community volunteers wanting to be involved.
Members were advised that one year on the project is already establishing itself as a real success and will continue to expand. The project hopes to work jointly with the National Trust, English Heritage, local companies such as Lafarge and Network Rail, the Council and Parish Councils.
Members congratulated No Walls Gardens on the work undertaken to date and suggested that a site visit be arranged for Members.
With regard to recommendations 4 and 5, Members suggested that the work of the Community Payback Teams be presented at Neighbourhood Forum meetings in order to raise awareness and encourage voluntary and community groups to make use of the scheme.
The Committee stated that it was great to see the recommendations being actively progressed in a constructive and focussed way. The Committee thanked officers and partner agencies for the work undertaken to date.
The Committee also thanked the Strategic Manager (Community Safety) and her team for an excellent report.
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) informed the Committee that CSPs are legally obliged to complete a Strategic Assessment (an audit of crime and disorder levels) on an annual basis under the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The process is intended to help Partnerships inform decisions when determining future priorities for multi-agency action and locally, to assist with the generation of the Community Safety Plan that underpins partnership activity.
Members were advised that the Assessment is usually a very detailed and extensive document that pools information from all partner agencies which is then supplemented by demographic information to provide perspective context. As Dartford and Gravesham form a joint Partnership, the Boroughs share the responsibility for completing the Assessment between their two Community Safety Units (CSUs). This year the Assessment has been completed by Dartford’s Community Safety Manager, Matt Roberts.
This year’s Assessment is shorter than documents provided in previous years due to changes in Home Office Counting Rules and in the definitions of a range of crime categories that came into effect on 1 April 2013. These changes have meant that direct year on year comparisons cannot be drawn as the parameters of what is being recorded has also changed, (i.e. would not be comparing like with like). As a result of these changes, the crime data recorded from 1 April 2013 will be used to provide the new baseline for year on year comparisons. The Assessment has used recorded data published by Kent Police for the period 1 April - 30 November 2013 to establish the most current position in respect of certain types of crime. The recorded data supports the choice of the strategic priorities for the forthcoming year as:-
· violent crime (including domestic abuse);
· tackling anti-social behaviour;
· acquisitive crime (with a focus on theft offences and categories of burglary offences);
· substance misuse (with a strong focus on alcohol-related crime and ASB);
· safety on the road; and
· reducing re-offending (as a cross-cutting theme).
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) highlighted that domestic abuse falls within the violent crime category - this means that direct year on year comparisons will not be possible for domestic abuse or violent crime (due to the broadening of the definition of domestic abuse) and that this will also have an effect on the total crime figures.
The Committee requested that the Strategic Manager (Community Safety) resumes the circulation of the quarterly crime statistics bulletin.
The Strategic Manager (Community Safety) advised that she will resume circulation of the quarterly bulletin however there will be no comparisons at present as the crime data recorded from 1 April 2013 will need to be used as the new baseline.
Resolved that the priorities as identified through the Strategic Assessment process be endorsed.
The Chair advised Members of the Committee that the report and recommendations for the domestic abuse scrutiny review will be available in March and asked Members if they would like the report to be submitted to the Committee for consideration.
The Committee agreed that ... view the full minutes text for item 27.