Agenda and minutes

Safer Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 18th June, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Room 10

Contact: Mrs KM Howard  (01744) 676106


No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors P Jackson, Lynch and Pearl.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 76 KB

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*           Resolved that the minutes of the meeting held on 26 March 2019, be approved and signed.


Declarations of Interest

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No Declarations of interest from Members were made.


Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 46 KB

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A report was submitted which detailed the Terms of Reference for the Safer Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel as follows:


The Panel shall undertake the functions delegated by the Commission, and in particular:


     To be designated as the responsible Panel for review and scrutiny of crime and disorder issues, pursuant to the Police and Justice Act 2006, and in this context


i)    to review and scrutinise decisions made, or action taken by, the People’s Board and the responsible authorities which comprise it insofar as their activities relate to the Board itself;


ii)  to make reports or recommendations to Council with respect to the discharge of crime and disorder functions;


iii) to consider any local crime and disorder matter which is referred to it by any Member of the Council;


iv)  to operate in accordance with the powers contained in the Crime and Disorder (Overview and Scrutiny) Regulations 2009 with regard to co-opting of members, frequency of meetings, obtaining information, requiring attendance at meetings and making reports and recommendations.


     To review items relating to the operation of the functions outlined above and their performance, as selected by members of the Panel, or referred to them by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission or the Cabinet.


     In undertaking this role, the Panel is able to question members of the Cabinet, and/or Strategic Directors, and/or the Chair of the People’s Board regarding their decisions, performance in relation to service operations and targets.


     To exercise the right following call-in to review and, where appropriate, ask for re-consideration of decisions made by, but not yet implemented by, the Council.


     To receive and have regard for Councillor Calls for Action within the remit of the Panel.


     To provide regular updates on the Panel’s work plan to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.


     To produce final reports of all reviews undertaken and monitor and evaluate progress of recommendations as appropriate.


     To make representations to the Cabinet, and Council if necessary, on any issues or areas of concern arising from the overview and scrutiny process.


*           Resolved that the report be noted.



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 and performance of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

The Panel was advised on current performance indicators, where the figures in relation to dwelling, non-domestic and secondary fires had all seen a reduction in incidents. However, there had been a small increase to the number of incidents of accidental dwelling and deliberate vehicle fires.


Members were advised that focused multi agency campaigns continue to be undertaken on a monthly basis which aimed to target an issue by raising awareness and providing advice.


The Panel was advised that there had been 13 ‘significant incidents’ which had required fire interventions; eight of which had been accidental, in main caused by lithium batteries and cooking incidents, with the remaining five having been caused deliberately. Members were advised of a deliberate fire at the Green Dragon Public House in Sutton Manor.

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, a third appliance to be crewed by whole time retained fire fighters.

Members asked questions in relation to response times, recent reports on white goods and lithium battery fires and the work being undertaken to address the issue, future for the Parr Stocks and Eccleston fire station sites once the new fire station was in place and if there were plans for the new fire station to become a dual-purpose site.


Ian Mullen advised that 90% of all calls were responded to within 10 minutes and that this was a county target. Within St Helens currently response was at 92 / 93% but that this figure was an average for indents, with some response time as quick as two to three minutes.

The Panel was informed that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was one of the fastest services in the country, rated approximately the sixth fastest. The support process for incident reinforcing, both in and out with neighbouring boroughs to support response times was explained to the Panel.


Members were informed that in relation to the washing machine tumble dryer recall from Whirlpool and its sister brands, active monitoring was taking place. The Panel was also advised that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was one of the few services that collected information on appliances that have been the root cause of a fire. This is then collated on a monthly basis and shared with all manufacturers and trading standards to inform them of the incidents to allow for further investigation.

With regards plans for the Parr Stock and Eccleston Fire Stations plots, Ian Mullen was unaware of future plans and it was accepted that this would unlikely be known until the development of the new community fire station at Watson Street was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Merseyside Police Update

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A verbal report was given by temporary Superintendent Tami Garvey-Jones which updated Members on the current work and performance of Merseyside Police.


The Panel was given an overview on performance for 2018/19. Headline statistics included; of all reported crimes in the Merseyside area 12% occurred in St Helens, in 2018/19 St Helens saw an 10% increase in all reported crimes, the biggest increase of was within the category of violence without injury which saw a 45% increase during 2018-19 (3,758 incidents in 2018/19 compared to 2,595 offences the previous year).


Other headline figures included:

·         4% Reduction in Burglary;

·         46% Increase in Knife Crime;

·         37% Increase in Alcohol/Drug related Crimes;

·         18% Increase in Domestic Abuse; and

·         28% Reduction in Anti-Social Behaviour.


In addition to end of year highlights, the Panel was also given an overview of the last few months’ performance over several crime types including; Vehicle Crime (including Interference and Theft From), Robbery and Burglary Dwelling.


It was reported that work continues to be undertaken to raise public awareness on crime prevention measures that can be taken in order to help prevent opportunist crimes and in challenging some public opinion that leaving a vehicle unlocked was the best course of action regarding car crime.


Within her report, Members were advised that the Local Policing Model, as introduced in January 2019, had been subject to a review and refocus in June and that a briefing with all Members had been scheduled for 10 July 2019 to inform them of the changes.


T/Superintendent Garvey-Jones advised the Panel she intended to review the use of surgeries, which historically had been poorly attended, and explore new ways to encourage community engagement through ward newsletters and ensuring that Area Officers and PCSO’s were in areas with greater footfall for public engagement, whilst exploring the use of technologies as a way of engaging with residents online.


Feedback from Members with regards to improving and transforming Community Engagement was welcomed by T/Superintendent Garvey-Jones.


The Panel was advised that £4.2m of funding had been made available to Merseyside Police through Central Government to help tackle serious violent crimes. Within St Helens some of this funding was being utilised by way of supplying an uplift to Police Officer presence during weekends in the Town Centre.

Alongside this funding, the Panel was advised that there was also funding available for organisations which helped to prevent crime and protect communities to apply for to help fund initiatives that would help to build stronger, safer communities.


Members requested more information on the funding stream available and asked questions in relation to the Neighbourhood Action Groups (NAGs), on communication strategies, particularly in relation to communicating with the older population in a way that was sensitive to the fear of crime, work being undertaken in relation to raising awareness of scam phone calls and ‘County Lines’ and if austerity was a contributing factor to the increase in violence in the home. 

The Panel was advised that there was £0.5m available via the fund and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Update on Scrutiny Work Plan 2018/19

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An extensive consultation exercise had been undertaken by the Scrutiny Section with Members, members of the public and other stakeholders such as community and voluntary groups and local businesses to make comments and suggestions for scrutiny work and focus areas to be undertaken in 2019/2020.


Members were asked to submit topics to be looked at by the Panel. The following topics were put forward:


·         Knife Crime and Public Health;

·         Anti-Social Behaviour; and

·         Violence in the Home.

The proposed topics would be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission for review and decision at the meeting scheduled for 15 July 2019.

The Scrutiny Support Officer reported that the Cabinet response to the Scrutiny Review of Hate Crime had been received at the meeting of the Cabinet held on 12 June 2019 and that the response would be considered at the next meeting of this Panel.

*           Resolved that:

(1)        the report be noted; and

(2)        the Cabinet response to the Scrutiny Review of Hate Crime be considered at the meeting of the Panel scheduled for 24 September 2019.