Thursday, December 1, 2022

Council crime boss details year of “success”

NEXT WEEK AT a meeting of the full council, portfolio holder for public protection, cllr Angie Gaywood will detail the achievements of the council in relation to all matters relating to crime. There, cllr Gaywood will be questioned by councillors on the record for public protection over the past year.

Cllr Gaywood said:

“I am delighted to be presenting for the first time my portfolio report to Council.

The portfolio covers a very wide range of services, many of which are statutory functions ensuring the general public, local businesses, industry, and our children and young people are kept safe and protected.

The Public Protection portfolio is very much a partnership relationship working very closely with the Police and local neighbourhood policing teams, and the Fire service and Authority, and I have worked closely with these partners and members through the Community Safety Partnership and in other areas such as anti social behaviour issues.

Additionally I have sought actively to ensure that we engage fully and work more closely with all our other key partners in the Council and outside such as the formation of the School Safety Working Group formed within this portfolio year.

I am also very grateful for the additional support from the shadow portfolio holder, Councillor Simon Wootton, and for the close working relationship we have formed making this an inclusive role in which we have both worked hard together to support and protect the residents of Thurrock.

I am very proud of the work carried out by our teams and whilst we have had some real successes this year we have also met some key challenges, such as the organisation of the Olympic Torch Relay, working with the police in tackling the Car Cruisers at Lakeside, the election of the new Police and Crime Commissioner and the effects of the economic climate on crime.

Many of the services within my portfolio are not particularly well known and so I wanted this report to provide a real overview of the key areas covered within Public Protection and provide some detail as to their performance and projects run in the last year.

DAAT (Drug and Alcohol Action Team)

The DAAT, as Members will remember, has recently been identified as the best performing DAAT in the country, providing an excellent service to residents with substance misuse problems. The figures speak for themselves, but outstanding results during 2012/13 are welcomed and we look for this to continue in 2013/14. During the year, the adult DAAT team have taken on the operation of the Thurrock Young Persons Drug and Alcohol Service (TYPDAS). This will allow for the spectacular results for the DAAT to be built upon and replicated for the young person’s service in the years to come.

As Members will be aware the work of the Drug and Alcohol teams in Thurrock provides treatment and other support to drug users to assist them in kicking their habits. The other support provided results from the multi agency and cross council working of the team.

Civil Protection

The Civil Protection Team has continued to undertake its statutory duties under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (as amended) including:

Input with the Olympics and torch relay.

COMAH (Control of Major Accident Hazard) Industrial off-site plan testing with 8 sites being tested ending March 2012.

Supporting businesses and consumers in the event of an incident. Training has been given to volunteers in the event of the opening of a rest centre for
displaced persons in case of an incident.

Operation of an on call duty rota covering 24/7 responding to incidents where assistance is required from emergency services in evacuation, transport of displaced persons and highways diversions.

Continuing work on the Council and services business continuity plans.

Community Safety

Thurrock Community Safety Partnership continues to work to keep residents, businesses and visitors to Thurrock safe.

The partnership continues to work to tackle anti-social behaviour through our Locality Action Groups, where officers from a number of agencies work together to deal with issues raised.

The work carried out by the community alcohol project has helped to tackle alcohol related violent crime.

The Partnership has held three stay safe events in 2012 aimed at raising awareness of community safety amongst those with a learning disability. The partnership has also launched True Vision which is an online third party reporting system for hate crime. This has added to the service already provided to hate crime victims which is seen to be one of the best in the County.

In partnership with children’s and adult services and the voluntary sector, including SERICC and Thurrock Women’s Aid, an excellent programme of 16 days of action against violence against women was delivered last November. This work continues with many of the actions identified having either been delivered or are actively progressing.

Working with our Youth Offending Service, first time entrants to the criminal justice system have declined by 53% compared to 19% nationally. Reoffending rates stand at 29.6% compared to a national average of 34.1% (09-10). An alcohol worker has been employed to work with our offenders to address those with alcohol needs.

Environmental Crime

The Community Protection Team has had another successful year addressing the ongoing problem of fly-tips in the Borough. We all know this is a major concern for our residents so we have concentrated the efforts of the Team on delivering a robust programme of prevention. This year we have seen a 25% reduction in the number of fly-tips reported in 2012/13, compared with the previous year, down from 1,299, to 972. The improvement in the figures is partly attributable to the work of the team in targeting vehicles carrying waste and enforcing the rules on waste carrier licences. This has been done in conjunction with the Police and is a productive way to disrupt fly-tippers before they tip and so avoid otherwise costly clear up and investigations. 11 fixed penalty notices were served for failure to produce appropriate waste licences during the year.

The team have also worked across the borough with traders who produce the waste, checking waste transfer notes and helping to educate them as to how their waste can be legitimately disposed of. An increasing number of Notices have been served relating to the duty of care of producers of waste during the year. Over 100 of these have been served in the last three months alone. This reduces the likelihood of businesses inadvertently paying unscrupulous operators to dispose of their waste which then ends up being fly-tipped.

The longer term effects of these actions mean that since 2007/8, we have reduced the number of fly-tips by 60%. Whilst this is good news there is always more to be done and we look to make further improvements in 2013/14.

We have carried out consultation this year around dog control and promoting responsible dog ownership. Following the consultation results we are currently working on implementing dog control orders to ban dogs from toddler play areas. I have recently, with other Councillors and officers visited a number of these to establish the best and most effective way to make this happen.

The team continue to work proactively and in relation to resident complaints to tackle dog fouling and littering with a combined total of 67 fixed penalty notices being issued this year. Additionally, 65 proactive operations have been carried out, tackling littering and dog fouling.

Licensing

The Licensing Team are responsible for a wide range of Licences, which Premises Licence (Alcohol and Entertainment), Taxis, Gambling, Sex Establishments, Animal Welfare (e.g. Pet shops, Boarding Kennels), Charity Collections and Scrap Metal.

Last year saw the team processing over 1,200 applications for all types of licences. In addition to the application processing, the team have taken part in numerous multi agency operations with partner agencies around Scrap Metal Thefts; the Community Alcohol Project; Taxis; the Olympics and the night time economy. As well as general enforcement of licences and their conditions, or particular projects like the inspection of all wheelchair accessible vehicles and the checking of all taxi meters.

The Team continues to support the Licensing Committee and has reviewed the Gambling Policy, increased the Hackney Carriage Tariff, updated and implemented the changes to the Licensing Act 2003 brought about by The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011. There have been numerous Licensing Sub-Committees where decisions have been made over a variety of taxi and alcohol licensing matters, with any appealed decisions being successfully defended at court.

I would like to thank Licensing Members for their work on the committee and at the many sub-committees that have been held during the year. Without the dedication of these Members, the operation of an effective licensing regime at Thurrock Council would not be possible.

We have also supported and have successfully launched a borough wide Pubwatch and Behave Or Be Banned Scheme (BOBB) which has contributed to the decrease in alcohol related crime in or around licensed premises over the 2012 festive period.

Thurrock Safety Advisory Group is administered and chaired through the Licensing Team which has reviewed 12 large events in the Borough providing support, guidance and regulation, ensuring that the community attending those events remain safe and for those organising the events have access to the skills and resources of all partner agencies.

Health and Safety

The Health and Safety Team have carried out nearly 300 inspections this year to ensure that businesses in Thurrock are safe for those working there as well as those visiting the premises. These visits resulted in over 100 enforcement actions, including 24 Improvement Notices and 3 Immediate Prohibition Notices.

They have also been involved in various projects within Thurrock. Most of the projects participated in are county wide projects and some involve joint working with other local authorities and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

In response to changing government priorities, more impetus is now placed on project work of those businesses thought to be of higher risk and the resources of
the team are targeted accordingly.

106 external accidents were investigated over the year resulting in some recommendations to businesses for improvements to their working practices.

Environmental Protection

The work of the Environmental Protection Team encompasses the areas of pollution control and statutory nuisance. They operate the out of hours noise service and have had considerable success this year in reducing the exposure of residents to noise at night that would otherwise disturb their lives. The team have used a combination of informal intervention and formal legal action to achieve this result.

In the area of pollution control, officers have completed statutory inspections of the permitted processes in the area and continue to work to reduce the impact of these industrial processes on the comfort and wellbeing of residents.

Trading Standards

This service has a particular wide ranging remit and during the year the team has carried out work in numerous areas including training on loan sharks and illegal money lending for over 200 people.

Testing of electric blankets to ensure that they were safe and would not cause a house fire. Unfortunately 36% of blankets failed, however Trading Standards in conjunction with Adult Social Care replaced all those which failed.

All the 20 tanning salons in Thurrock were inspected for safety and compliance with safety standards.

All premises wishing to sell fireworks in Thurrock were licensed and inspected to ensure that they were safe and I spent a day with the team to see for myself the types of risks fireworks sold incorrectly can pose.

3 illegally imported dogs were indentified and successfully quarantined, protecting Thurrock residents against rabies.

Additionally the team have worked to ensure that all sheltered housing sites signed up as No Cold Calling Areas.

We were able to save a vulnerable consumer £6,000, by intervening with a rogue trader cold calling residents.

The team continue to work in partnership to identify overloaded vehicles on Thurrock’s roads. They have carried out 23 road traffic prosecutions so far this year with one company being fined £4,000.

59 underage test purchases for alcohol so far with 5 sales, which is a failure rate of 8.4%. Formal action is in progress for the failures. Training sessions being run for off licence retailers with approximately 20 different premises sending staff.

Food Team

The Food Team has continued to undertake its statutory duties to ensure food safety in Thurrock. They have carried out food hygiene and standards inspections in approximately 1,200 premises from manufacturers, packers, cold stores, import/exporting companies, restaurants and takeaways to schools, care homes and retail stores.

The team have also carried out investigations into food and food premises complaints from residents, allegations of food poisoning, unsafe drinking water and notifiable infectious diseases including legionella.

Food is regularly sampled from businesses across the borough to ensure food safety and accurate labelling (to prevent contamination by allergens and food contamination).

The volume of imported and exported food stored, transported and sold within the borough continues to increase, including the import of nuts, seeds, spices, fruit and vegetables and the export of similar foods.

The team also carry out project work which in the past year have included projects to reduce contamination of food with the potentially lethal e-coli bacteria, education and sampling with regard to nut free products in Indian takeaway foods, identification, monitoring and sampling of private water distribution systems to ensure safe water supplies and a survey of our manufacturing premises and cold stores is currently being undertaken to identify and prevent adulteration of meat products in Thurrock, particularly in relation to horse meat.

Parking Services

Parking Services has continued to undertake the civil enforcement of parking contraventions throughout the Borough, to ensure the safety of road users. In July 2012, this included the enforcement of existing and new temporary parking restrictions introduced in Lodge Lane, Southend Road, Palmers Avenue, Orsett Road and London Road in Grays for the Olympic Torch Relay events.

The performance of Parking Services is contained in the Annual Parking Report for 2012. The headline figures from the report are:

10,960 on-street penalty charge notices issued.

1,557 off-street penalty charge notices issued.

Total surplus income on parking account £63,029.80.

The team also undertook projects in the past year including:-

Improvements were made to the Darnley Road car park in Grays.  Free weekend parking was again provided during December 2012 in all on
and off-street pay-and-display parking places.

Changes were made to the charging structure for residents’ and visitors’ parking permits; with effect from April 2013 the first two residents’ parking permits and the first sheet of visitors’ parking permits will be issued free of charge to eligible households each year.

Dedicated parking spaces for electric vehicles and charging points were provided in the car parks in Argent Street and Crown Road in Grays, Canterbury Parade in South Ockendon and King Street in Stanford le Hope.

Chest-mounted security cameras were procured for Civil Enforcement Officers. These are expected to be brought into operation in April 2013.

A 6-month trial of a CCTV enforcement vehicle has been agreed, primarily to improve the safety of school children by tackling the ongoing problems of inconsiderate and dangerous parking outside all of the boroughs primary schools.

Setting up of the Schools Safety Working Group to support in a multi agency approach in tackling the safety of school children travelling to and from school.

1 COMMENT

  1. Not so sure about the Environmental Crime success.
    I reported three weeks ago fly-tipped items dumped in an access alleyway behind council houses.
    Only to be told it might be on private property,….so its still there!

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