Agenda and draft minutes

Safer Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 26th March, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Room 10

Contact: Mrs KM Howard  (01744) 676106


No. Item


Appointment of Chairman

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*           Resolved that Councillor McDonnell be appointed as Chairman for this meeting of the Panel.


Councillor McDonnell here took the Chair.


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Fulham and P Jackson.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 96 KB

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*           Resolved that the minutes of the meeting held on 11 December 2018, be approved and signed subject to the following amendment:


            Minute 25 – Para 1 removal of the word ‘Chief’


Declarations of Interest

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No Declarations of Interest from Members were made.


Safeguarding Review of Merseyside Police

·         Local Policing Superintendent, Louise Harrison has been invited to attend the meeting.

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A verbal report was given by Superintendent Harrison which updated Members on the Safeguarding Review of Merseyside Police.


The Panel was informed that following a review into efficiency and effectiveness it had been recognised that the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH) lacked a consistency in processes across the pan Merseyside footprint. As a result of these findings a new working model had been developed and was now being embedded having been live for two weeks.


Members were also advised of staffing changes within the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub with a move from the Hub being staffed by Police Officers to Police Support Staff. Assurance was given that the shift in staffing would not be to the detriment of the service and that experience and skills remained within the department.

Superintendent Harrison emphasised that the changes were still embedding and that feedback on the change in processes was welcomed from Members and Partners.


The Panel questioned if the changes had affected the membership of health partners within the MASH and raised concerns regarding Police communications in particular around changes/closures of outstations.

Assurance was given that the membership/staffing changes only affected the police element of the MASH and there were no changes to other staffing or referral processes. The Panel was informed that Merseyside Police were currently in the scoping phases regarding their estates programme.


*           Resolved that:


(1)             the verbal report be noted; and

(2)             Superintendent Harrison be thanked for her verbal report.


Update on Skate Park

·         Roy Benyon, Head of Place and Delivery has been invited to attend the meeting.

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The Head of Place and Delivery was present at the meeting to provide a verbal report to the Panel on the Urban Skate Park.


On 26 April 2017, the Cabinet approved the development of an Urban Skate Park on land between Chalon Way Car Park and Foundry Street in St Helens Town Centre. The prime purpose of the development was to reduce the issue of antisocial behaviour caused by the presence of skateboarders particularly in Church Square and to provide a safe space for young people.


At this meeting, the Cabinet also approved the acceptance of £65,000 of funding from Merseyside Police via the Proceed of Crime Act (POCA) grant.


The Panel was informed that additional funding streams had been identified and secured; £77,000 by the Heart of Glass through Arts Council Funding and £50,000 from Sport England through a joint bid from the Heart of Glass and the Council, which had been confirmed on 12 March 2019. The total funds earmarked for the Urban Skate Park was now £192,000.


It was reported that Heart of Glass had been given the lead to procure the design, seek planning approval and award the contract for development. The design had been complete and granted planning permission in 2018 and a specialist park builder had been sourced.

During the meeting the latest plans for the Urban Skate Park referred to as ‘Bliss Park’ were circulated and the Panel was informed that there was confidence in having secured an appropriate fit for purpose builder and secured a unique and ambitious proposition.

The Head of Place and Delivery informed the Panel the next steps would be for the Council to contract the build in partnership with Heart of Glass and Studio Morison with groundwork to begin as soon as this was in place. Construction would commence the next quarter of 2019, following confirmation of the Sport England grant with an overall anticipated build time of six months, during which a public engagement programme would be led by Heart of Glass.

The Panel was also informed of anticipated future plans which included; a potential exchange with young skaters from Stuttgart, an ongoing rolling programme of events, and programmes for older people and schools.

Members welcomed the progress made towards the development of the Urban Skate Park but emphasised the importance in ensuring that the public was aware that this was being provided due to the securing of grants and that the monies secured for the development were not at the expense of the provision other Council services.

The Panel questioned the reasoning behind the naming of the park as ‘Bliss Park’ and asked if the skaters group/s as end users of the park were continuing to be involved in the development of the park. It was explained that Bliss Park was currently a working name for the project and could be open to change following consultation. Assurance was given that the Heart of Glass, as project lead, continued to update and consult with the skaters; in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Update

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A verbal report was given by Ian Mullen, Station Manager which updated Members on the current work of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

The Panel was advised on current performance indictors and informed of the current increase in Road Traffic Collision (RTC) incidents.

Members were advised of joint working with the Local Policing Team and Community Safety Partnership’s Arson Reduction Officer in investigating skip/bin fires which had led to the successful identification and conviction of an individual who was now on remand in custody for five months.


The Panel was also updated on the continuing developments of the new community fire station to be located at Watson Street off Milverny Way, Ravenhead Retail Park.

It was reported that the new site would house the two fire appliances currently stationed at Parr Stocks Road and Eccleston Fire stations and, subject to public consultation, plans to house a third appliance to be crewed by whole time retained fire fighters.

It was also envisioned that the new development would include community facilities, a dedicated road traffic collision simulation pad and below ground training tank. It was reported that the 67-week build was scheduled to be complete in summer 2020.

Following questioning, clarification was given on the number of appliances within the
St Helens area and the support process for incident reinforcing, both in and out with neighbouring boroughs.


The Panel noted the increase in RTC’s and questioned if mapping exercises were undertaken to understand where they were occurring. It was explained that RTC’s can occur due to a number of factors not all within the powers of the Fire and Rescue Service such as motorists speeding, engineering of roads etc. However, the Fire and Rescue Services were helping to continue to raise aware of the dangers and risks through delivery of road safety messages to the public.

Members of the Panel were informed of a current tool being used to deliver the road safety message: a 360-film delivered within a ‘crash car’ through virtual reality (VR) goggles to create a memorable and immersive experience of a crash and its aftermath.


The Panel commented on the wide range of incidents the Fire and Rescue Service attended including a recent rescue of two ponies that had fell into a ditch. Ian Mullen acknowledged with the success of fire prevention measures, the rescue of both people and animals were becoming an increasing element of role and remit.


Members asked if the service had the machinery to access high level buildings. It was reported that the Fire and Rescue Service had specialist ladders with ability to access buildings with 8 to 10 floors (building dependant). Assurance was given that work was being done around preventative engineering works (such as stop breaks and early alerts) rather than relying on reactive engineering following learning from the Greenfell incident.


*           Resolved that the verbal report be noted.



Merseyside Police Update

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A verbal report was given by Superintendent Louise Harrison which updated Members on the current work of Merseyside Police.


The Panel was given an overview of the last few months’ performance over a number of crime types including Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB), Vehicle Crime (including Interference) Robbery, Burglary Dwelling and Hate Crime.


It was reported that work to continue to be undertaken to raise public awareness on crime prevention measures they could take; such as not keeping valuables in vehicles, ensuring doors and windows were locked etc. in order to help prevent opportunist crimes.


The Panel was informed of the force wide knife crime operation called Operation Sceptre which was a national operational focus to crack down on knife crime and continue to raise awareness. It was reported that open air searches of parks and communal areas within St Helens had been positive with no significant findings. Members were informed that these searches would continue to be undertaken in open spaces.


It was noted that the spring and lighter nights often saw an increase in ASB and this was already being anticipated within the force and a focus for local community Police teams. The Panel was advised that planning was already underway for the regular spring/summer events of Brookfest, Reminisce, Fuzzfest and Westfest. 

The Panel took the opportunity to raise a number of Ward issues within Newton-le-Willows, Rainford and Billinge and ongoing issues being reported to them through residents regarding the 101 non-urgent Police number.


*           Resolved that:

(1)        the verbal report be noted; and

(2)        Superintendent Harrison be thanked for her attendance at the meeting.


Scrutiny Report - Review of Hate Crime pdf icon PDF 198 KB

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A report was submitted to the Panel which updated Members on the Scrutiny Review of Hate Crime.

The report detailed the background and scope, methodology, findings, conclusions and recommendations of the review.

As a result of the Scrutiny Review of Hate Crime the following recommendations for improvement has been proposed by the Task Group:


1.      the Hate Crime Partnership Board continue to meet on a quarterly basis to ensure data and good practice be continuously shared amongst a wider group and that greater effort to broadcast its work be made;

2.      membership of the Hate Crime Partnership Board be extended to include representatives from Primary and Secondary Headteacher Group, the local faith sectors and victims of Hate Crime;

3.      the work currently being undertaken by Merseyside Police to establish more third-party reporting centres be supported by the Council;

4.      Members be given training by Merseyside Police to assist them in becoming third party reporting ambassadors for Hate Crime within their Wards; and

5.      an easy to use online Hate Crime Awareness training resource be identified and communicated across partners.


*           Resolved that:

(1)        the report be noted; and

(2)        the final report be forwarded to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission prior to submission to Cabinet.