Agenda item

Safe Durham Partnership ASB Strategic Group Update

Report of the Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change, presented by Joanne Waller, Head of Community Protection Services.


The Committee considered a report of the Corporate Director of Neighbourhoods and Climate Change that provided an update on the ongoing work of the ASB Strategic Group (for copy of report, see file of minutes).


The Head of Community Protection Services was in attendance to deliver the report and presented the Durham County ASB Delivery Plan performance update for the period March 2022 – February 2023 that identified the following priorities for action during the coming year:


·       Deliberate Fires

·       Criminal Damage

·       Flytipping

·       Noise

·       Intimidation / Harassment / Abuse


Members were advised that further work was ongoing to clarify the ‘unknown nuisance’ reports which were significant in number. The Data and Performance Team would continue to work with strategic partners regarding the quality of data so that the dashboards can present the best available information going forward (for copy of presentation, see file of minutes).


Councillor Charlton asked if the reduction in Anti-Social Behaviour on the whole was due to some items that were in this category now being classed as criminal activity.


The Head of Community Protection Services responded that it was difficult to say as there had been some changes in the reporting standards in the way the police log but there would be an element of Anti-Social Behaviour that was now logged as a crime, similarly they were now receiving information from housing providers on Anti-Social Behaviour so overall they were not seeing a big difference in the numbers although work was continuing around the data analysis. She commented that there was also a significant underreporting of Anti-Social Behaviour, but it gave an idea of where they need to put resources. The more interventions the increased likelihood that incidents were reported.


Councillor Charlton then referred to noise nuisance that appeared to be increasing across the board and asked if there was a pattern such as people more aware of noise due to home working.


The Head of Community Protection Services responded that they did see a spike during COVID lockdown but generally there appeared to be less tolerance in some areas.


Councillor Boyes asked how co-ordinated they were between the police, council and PCC and sought clarification if the 50,000 calls were just for the council or if it was all agencies. He then asked how much weight was attached to these figures and indicated that coming out of lockdown there would be a lot more rubbish so an increase in fly-tipping. He stated that they had a massive increase in deliberate fires over in East Durham. He commented that there were a number of empty properties in his ward and other wards that become targets and there was a number of cars been set a light and asked how much cross over there was between deliberate fires and crime as a fire was a crime, not anti-social behaviour.


The Head of Community Protection Services responded that partnership working was good, in terms of operations they had problem solving groups with a joined-up approach around muti-agency. She commented that the partnership working was healthy and strong in Durham. She continued that the impact of COVID may have impacted on some of the reductions, but she was aware that the fly-tipping group had been proactive over the last twelve months that would impact on the reductions although the trend had to be a continued reduction for it to be meaningful.


Councillor Nicholls referred to the 40% increase in deliberate fires in Durham and asked for the reasons for this and asked if Bowburn Primary School had impacted on these figures as it was set on fire most days and there was no national funding framework to deal with empty properties like Bowburn Primary School or was it more fires occurring across the city.


The Director Community Risk Management indicated that if there was a spike in a particular area the team would look into it and referred to a problem with fires in some woods and discussions held around woodland management as well as generic education.


Councillor Nicholls reiterated his concern around the absence of a national framework to deal with empty buildings and associated ASB/Crime.


The Director Community Risk Management responded that in terms of empty buildings they had a partnership approach where they were identifying all the empty buildings that potentially could cause problems and looking at security. 200 premises were identified and less than 10 were owned by the council.


Resolved: That the information contained in the report and presentation be noted.

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