Agenda item

Update on the Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Panel 2023-24 (Verbal Update)


The Chair of the Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Panel, Councillor Kane, provided an update on the 2023-24 meeting of the Panel which took place on 1st November 2023, where the Panel received a detailed presentation on the work of the North Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership (NWCSP).


The Chair of the Panel summarised the main points discussed at the 1st November meeting:


·       The role of the NWCSP and the NWCSP Plan 2021-24, which was refreshed annually and was now in its last year. A new community safety action plan would be developed for 2024-27.

·       NWCSP focused on four priorities - Reducing Violence and Abuse; Reducing Theft and Acquisitive Crime; Reducing Anti-Social Behaviour, Damage and Nuisance; and Protecting Vulnerable Communities. Alongside these there were two cross cutting themes that had an impact across the priority areas, namely reducing the harm caused by drug and alcohol misuse and reducing reoffending.

·       The NWCSP had been allocated an annual ring-fenced budget from the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) of £139,250.

·       Since 2017, the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) had been allocating significant funding as part of its CCTV Capital Fund across the West Mercia Force area, including Redditch. The NWCSP used its funding allocation to upgrade and enhance the CCTV scheme across its area. However, no further CCTV capital funding for 2023-24 would be provided as the funding priorities of the PCC had now changed.

·       The role and setup of the Community Safety Team within the Council was explained including that it was a small team which received calls for advice and support from numerous sources. In September 2022 to August 2023 (inclusive) the Team received 19 requests from Residents, 13 from Elected Members, 24 from Partner Agencies, and 52 Requests from Internal Service with most requests relating to domestic violence, multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) and sanctuary queries including home security assessment.

·       The details of community safety programmes and schemes delivered by NWCSP in 2022-23 were shared with Members of the Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Panel. The Chair noted that the Panel was impressed by the range of work carried out by the Community Safety Team and the wider Partnership.

·       It was highlighted that within Redditch Council there were two fully qualified Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs) who provided specialist advice and guidance as it pertains to the built environment.

·       The Chair commented that the Panel felt there should be more promotion of NWCSP among elected members, officers and the public. At the meeting, Officers stated that there was a plan to address this through more regular briefings about its work, including to the service managers across the Council.


The Chair further reported that at the Panel meeting of 1st November 2023, the topic of County Lines Drug Activity and prevention strategies used by regional and local agencies was considered. A detailed presentation was given on County Lines and the Chair noted that what was particularly important to note on County Lines was that these criminals operated like a business with a psychological element whereby ‘employees’ at the bottom of the operation would be threatened with violence and become too afraid to report. It was noted that county lines gangs were also shifting their tactics, for example, with the gangs now more often targeting young people from relatively affluent areas/neighbourhoods than was the case before.


Following the update provided by Councillor Kane, the Committee discussed the topics covered in the update in detail as follows:


·       Tactics used by County Lines gangs – Members commented that anecdotal evidence showed that a common tactic used by county lines criminals was buying / giving young people disposable vapes to carry favour and make young people feel they owe a favour. It was noted that it was a simple, inexpensive way of targeting young people and getting them ‘on the side’ of criminals.

·       Officers noted that the issue also extended to premises selling vapes to underage users, with such premises potentially acting to facilitate organised crime. This had been raised through and monitored by the County Council’s trading standards and the multi-agency targeted enforcement group.

·       Work of schools to inform children and young people of tactics used by county lines gangs – It was noted that schools had a key role in acting as the first line of defence against young people becoming involved in county lines and other criminal activity. Pupils were informed about how to avoid getting involved in those activities through regular school assemblies and these topics were covered in PHSE curriculum. In addition, pastoral departments in schools provided the opportunity for young people to raise any concerns directly with staff and involve agencies if necessary.

·       The Respect Programme – this programme delivered bespoke one-to-one mentoring, classroom sessions and whole school assemblies. It was explained that this programme had now been operating for more than 10 years and was a mentoring programme tailored particularly to young people referred to the scheme as being at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of crime. It was a tiered approach, so as part of the programme, if requested or referred, the programme’s qualified mentors and youth workers would deliver presentations in schools on particular subjects as requested by the school. It was highlighted that this was a scheme specific to Redditch and Bromsgrove and because of the nature of information shared the training and mentoring had to be provided by appropriately trained professionals.

·       It was commented that county lines was a cross boundary issue, and as such it was imperative that agencies worked collaboratively and shared information across administrative boundaries in a timely and effective manner.

·       Sharing resources on crime and county lines prevention in ward surgeries – It was noted that the Community Safety Team would soon be updating its promotional materials and leaflets, and these would be shared with Members.




The Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Panel Update be noted.