City Centre Anti-Social Behaviour Enforcement
Cabinet received a report the purpose of which was to outline proposed measures that would change the way enforcement and compliance activity of Peterborough City Council was delivered.
The Leader introduced the report highlighting the main issues contained within. The Council had for some time successfully collaborated with colleagues from the Public Protection Services, most notably the Police and the Fire service, and the ambitious step had been taken to integrate Officers from across the Public Sector to develop a single Community Safety Service that helped to prevent crime, tackle anti-social behaviour and tackle the fear of crime. However, some of the issues affecting the city and its residents had become of concern; issues such as fly tipping, littering, poor housing conditions, begging and street drinking. These issues did nothing to promote the city and to help people feel safe and protected. The outlined proposals presented to Cabinet would build on the work already carried out by the Community Safety Service and would also bring together all of the enforcement professionals from across the council into a single managed service.
The Council’s Service Director City Services and Communications addressed Cabinet and outlined the proposals, which in summary were to merge the Council’s CCTV Officers, the Parking Enforcement Officers, the Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers, Housing Enforcement Officers and Community Safety Officers and to have a single enforcement team that would not just address the issues in the City Centre but would address issues city wide.
The Council’s Service Director Adult Services and Communities and the Head of Community and Safety Services addressed Cabinet and advised how the proposals would build upon the service which was currently in place, how the team would operate, how the proposals would work in practice and the benefits for the whole city.
Cabinet debated the report and proposals, addressing the concept of the proposals being city wide and not just city centre focussed. In summary, key points raised and responses to questions included:
· Consistency of approach in relation to how the new proposals would be achieved through training provision and by performance monitoring, via a performance data system, and leadership. The training provided would be a recognised package;
· The service would build capacity by multiskilling a range of officers who currently could only enforce a single issue. This approach would ensure all parts of the community were reached;
· The service would be evidence based and reports of prolific fly tipping, littering and door to door crime would feature heavily in profiling work;
· The service was for the whole of Peterborough and work had been undertaken with the Rural Scrutiny Committee on how for example similar enforcement functions could be expanded to rural communities;
· A programme plan would be developed for implementation from April 2016 and this would include a communications campaign ensuring all groups were advised of the proposals;
· It was commented that low level crime, particularly in parks, was becoming more and more of an issue and the proposals represented a positive move towards being able to tackle these issues, although it was to be noted that the Council would not be assuming ownership of all low level crime, this still being the responsibility of the Police;
· The proposals sent a strong message to the citizens of Peterborough that both the Council and the Police took low level crimes extremely seriously;
· The intention was not to generate extra income from fines, but to deal with the issues that communities were experiencing. Performance would not be measured on ticket production, but rather on confidence levels. Surveys would be produced in order to ascertain whether the public felt there had been improvements and a measure of success over time would be a decrease in income, due to fewer tickets being issued;
· There would be a number of ways that the public would be able to contact the Council to raise issues, this being part of the wider work of the Customer Experience Programme;
· All of the Officers could be SIA qualified which would enable the team to be utilised for larger events in the city such as the Mayor’s Parade and political marches. These qualified staff could also be sold out to events held in the city, such as events held on the embankment. There would also be the possibility of upskilling the team with the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme which would enable Officers to close roads;
· In relation to implementation of the scheme, there were key milestones between now and April 1 2016, at which time it was aimed to have the team visibly on the streets. There was a lot of work to undertake around terms and conditions for staff, control rooms to set and computer systems to purchase, amongst many other things;
· Confirmation was sought that the proposals would be cost effective and it was advised that the income from the enforcement activity would need to contribute to the cost of the service. Cost effectiveness would be integral to the scheme but would not necessarily be measured through an income target or and income figure more around the difference being made to communities;
· A more proactive investigative approach would be taken to issues such as fly tipping;
· Officers were not going to be given powers of arrest, only to ticket on issues such as littering, begging, street drinking, underage sale and enforcement of local bylaws such as cycling on footpaths;
· Teams of Enforcement Officers and Police Officers would be briefed together each day, helping to build relationships between the team. There would be a single radio signal used between the team enabling quicker response times should Police assistance be required;
· Part of the training package that the Officers would receive would focus around what to do in a major incident. The radio system utilised would be the same as used by all emergency services and therefore Officers would be able to listen in and be early notified of any major incidents in the city; and
· The public would notice a difference following the implementation of the scheme. There would be many more officers in high visibility style uniforms walking around the city rather than for example the plain clothes officers who currently dealt with anti social behaviour incidents.
Following questions, the Leader wished for his thanks to be recorded to the Service Director City Services and Communications for the work undertaken on the proposals sighting that the scheme proposed was cost effective and would go towards pride being put back into the city.
Cabinet considered the report and RESOLVED to change the way that enforcement and compliance activity was delivered, in order to protect the city from anti-social behaviour.
REASONS FOR THE DECISION
The recommendations would ensure that the city would be a more attractive place to visit and work.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED
Consideration could be given to leaving the separate teams as they were. However it was already apparent that by not having joined up services, the needs of visitors and businesses in Peterborough were not being adequately met.