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Agenda item

Safe Durham Partnership Board

(i)              Joint Report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships and the Corporate Director of Adult and Health Services.

(ii)             Presentation by Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford, Chair of the Safe Durham Partnership.


The Chairman introduced Assistant Chief Constable, Durham Constabulary, Dave Orford who, as Chair of the Safe Durham Partnership (SDP), was in attendance give Members an update in relation to the SDP Board.


The Chair of the SDP noted that he had undertaken partnership working throughout his Police career and reminded Members that partners did not just come together at SDP Board meetings, they worked together all the time to help deliver for our communities.  He explained that the vision for the SDP was for “A county where every adult and child will be, and feel, safe”, with the SDP Plan 2016-19, “Altogether Safer” to deliver on this.  It was noted that through a peer review to the strength of the SDP had been noted.


The Committee noted the evidence based MoRiLE (Management of Risk in Law Enforcement) approach, with key themes being: alcohol; sexual offences; road traffic, those killed or seriously injured (KSI); drug use; and organised crime.  It was explained that “cyber enabled” was a cross-cutting theme.  The Chair of the SDP noted there were also emerging issues such as modern slavery and human trafficking.


Councillors noted that all partners understood that it was essential to keep the public informed and “on board” to ensure confidence and satisfaction.  It was added that this was a current area of focus and other areas included vulnerability strands, specifically: domestic abuse; sexual offences; “missing from home”, children, young people and adults; and cross-cutting themes such as alcohol and mental health.


The Chair of the SDP referred Members to a number of tables and graphs relating to: overall crime; crime perception and anti-social behaviour (ASB); reoffending; domestic violence and drug and alcohol harm reduction.  The Committee noted that the increase in crime, in the context of Durham Constabulary having been noted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) as having very accurate crime recording.  It was added that while some increase was in relation to new recording methodology there were also new crimes with examples given including online fraud and online harassment.  Members were made aware of the volume of crime and the partnership work between Neighbourhood Policing Teams, AAPs and the Council in terms of being able to have an understanding of the “real” level of crime.  The Chair of the SDP highlighted that the “solved rate” had also increased, and also schemes such as Checkpoint were proving to be very positive.  Members noted working with the Probation Service and the work undertaken to reduce reoffending and the importance of information sharing in this regard.  The Committee were reminded that a lot of work had been undertaken in the last few years in terms of encouraging reporting of crime and increasing the public’s confidence to do so.


The Chair of the SDP explained the Partnership priorities, from July 2017: protecting vulnerable people from harm; reducing reoffending; alcohol and substance misuse harm reduction; counter terrorism and prevention of violent extremism; promote being safe and feeling safe in your environment; and cybercrime.  Councillors noted that, through their partnership approach, the SDP were continuing to understand and tackle barriers to safer communities and vulnerable people, as well as continuing to respond to change and effectively promote safer communities.  Members noted that the SDP was also addressing the wider social determinants of community safety.  The Chair of the SDP noted the activities and work undertaken by the partnership and noted the need to be outcome focussed and to target reducing resources effectively.  He explained a lot of the work being undertaken was proactive, although there was positive reactive work undertaken when necessary, for example in relation to arson and water safety.


The Chair of the SDP noted challenges faced by the SDP included: community intelligence and engagement; reduction of resources; and protecting the most vulnerable.  He concluded by noting the next steps would be: the development of the next SDP Partnership Plan in Spring 2019; to work together to add value and coordinate delivery; and to inform partners and build opportunities.       


The Chairman thanked the Chair of the SDP and asked Members of the Committee for their comments and questions.


Councillor C Wilson noted a scheme “Making the Link”, in relation to the known links between violence to animals often then leading to violence against people and asked if this was something the SDP was aware of.  The Chair of the SDP noted the association had been known to criminology for a number of years and asked if information on the scheme could be sent to him via the Overview and Scrutiny Officer.


Mr AJ Cooke noted the statistics in relation to reoffending and asked if there were any specific reasons or commonalities, for example linked to the economy.  The Chief Executive, Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (DTVCRC), Bronwyn Elphick noted that there were a number of circumstances that could impact on reoffending more widely, an example given being the reduction and changes in services nationally, such as drug and alcohol services and the introduction of Universal Credit.  She added that this was not necessarily the case in our area, and reiterated that County Durham and Darlington was not a hotspot in terms of reoffending.  The Chair of the SDP added that information to be able to provide early and bespoke interventions was important in reducing reoffending.  He explained that there was no “one size fits all” approach, although there was a process and an order to follow, and indeed some individuals may need to go through the process more than once.  Members noted that to ensure the best outcomes it was important for all agencies involved to link together, not only in terms of intelligence sharing, but also in being able to understand the budgetary and resources pressures faced by each organisation.


Councillor J Maitland asked as regards road traffic accidents (RTAs) and if there were numbers in terms of those falling asleep at the wheel.  The Chair of the SDP noted in his experience this had not been a large issue in our area, he added that the spike in RTAs had led to a piece of work looking at your people, risks, locations that maybe hotspots and work by the PCVC in our schools.  Councillor J Charlton asked as regards open water safety work.  The Chair of the SDP noted this was an area where a lot of good work had been undertaken and noted this was an area that was reported to the Committee on a regular basis.


Councillor J Considine asked as regards reoffending and whether the issue of prisoners being unable to access the process to apply for Universal Credit prior to their release, delaying benefit payments, was an issue and was there anything that could be done to help and improve the situation.  The Chair of the SDP noted that those involved were aware of this gap and MPs in the region had raised the issue at the national level.  The Chief Executive, DTVCRC noted that the current situation was they could not apply before release from prison and the £47 grant upon leaving prison would not bridge the delay in benefits they could face.


Councillor A Hopgood noted a recent television documentary featuring HMP Durham, and noted the adverse effects when people are released from prison.  She added that she felt the vision of the SDP was excellent though suggested that the “feel” and “be” safe be placed in the opposite order as when people feel safe then they with think they are safe.  The Chair of the SDP noted this, and the Chief Executive, DTVCRC noted she had regular meeting with colleague from the Prison Service and noted methods of segregation within prisons, to prevent drug sales and that identifying and targeting was key.


Councillor D Hall asked if the detection rate in respect of crimes having seen a reduction was relation to issues such as witness intimidation, and was this possibility factored in, especially in cases of online abuse and intimidation.  The Chair of the SDP noted this was not an issue that had been raised in our Force Area, though he added he would look at the figures for our area to see if there was any issues.  He explained that the Police use of social media was in general extremely positive, with good feedback from Members of the public.




The Strategic Manager – Partnerships, Andrea Petty noted that feedback on the SDP Plan would be reported back to Committee at its meeting in February 2019.




That the report and presentation be noted.


Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714