Agenda item

Violence Reduction Update

The Children, Adults, Health and Wellbeing Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel held a Scrutiny Day in January 2021 to consider readiness for the Serious Violence Duty. An update was brought to the Panel on 14 March 2023 and this report provides a further update, 6 months on.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services introduced the report to the Panel. She stated that Bath and North East Somerset continues to be an area of comparatively low reported serious violence. Nevertheless, the impact of serious violence when it occurs is devastating for individuals, families and communities.


She explained that a ‘hub and spoke’ model was adopted locally, with the lead ‘hub’ role being undertaken by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner who convenes an Avon and Somerset-wide multi-agency strategic Board.


She informed the Panel that delegated funding was made available to each of the five Local Authority ‘spokes’ to appoint Co-ordinators and Administrators and develop their own needs assessments and response plans, introduce new processes for addressing risk and for procuring services. These outputs are monitored and reported to the Home Office by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.


She stated that in Bath and North East Somerset, this cross-cutting agenda is overseen by a multi-agency Serious Violence Steering Group which reports to the Community Safety and Safeguarding Partnership’s Exploitation sub-group via quarterly reports which are also sent to the Prevention and Early Intervention sub-group, the Domestic Abuse Partnership and the Youth Justice Partnership Board. She added that there is a particular focus on sharing information at a multi-agency level about individuals, networks and places of concern in relation to exploitation and the risk of serious violence.


She highlighted the following two sections of the report to the Panel.


3.7 Implementation support: The Home Office then awarded a contract to Crest Advisory to deliver national implementation support for the Serious Violence Duty. This began with a review of all Police areas and in Avon and Somerset, Crest reported that partners were “ready and engaged to deliver on the Duty.” Tailored implementation support is now being received here and in all areas through thematic workshops to ensure suitable partnership arrangements are in place.


3.8 Avon and Somerset transition: At the same time, recognising that specific work was needed in Avon and Somerset to move from Violence Reduction Unit arrangements to new Serious Violence Duty arrangements, Crest Advisory was appointed following a competitive process, to support the transition. The purpose of this was to understand how the new arrangements should work both strategically and operationally and review the respective roles and responsibilities between the Police and Crime Commissioner ‘hub’ and the five Local Authority ‘spokes.’


Kevin Burnett asked if the consultation of Young People regarding the Bath and North East Somerset Strategic Needs Assessment was due to take place this October / November and did they already have a database of contacts to be used.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services replied that the consultation is planned to take place over the next couple of months and that the deadline for completion of the Strategic Needs Assessment was 31st January 2024. She added that two staff focus groups have already been held and they were discussing with colleagues in Social Care, Probation and Youth Justice as to the best way to consult Young People.


The Associate Director for Public Health added that gathering a wide range of insights was really important and that he hoped this would lead to areas of work that can be progressed following the publication of the Strategic Needs Assessment.


Kevin Burnett asked if the consultation would be confined to those that are currently known within the system or would it be on a wider scale to include education representatives and Youth Connect workers.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services replied that they would be looking to consult with as wide a range of people as possible. She added that the Violence Reduction Unit Coordinator would be leading on this work and that they planned to talk with Mentoring Plus, Project 28, Youth Connect, Off The Record and in house statutory services.


The Violence Reduction Unit Coordinator said that surveys would also be sent to all schools as part of the consultation.


Councillor Paul Crossley commented that he would like to see in future reports some goals, targets and achievements so that the work can be analysed and progress measured. He asked if it was known whether incidents involving knife crime were linked to particularly distressed families or those considered to be most in need.


He also asked how much of the violent crime that does take place within B&NES is carried out by those who do not live in the area and whether more harmful weapons than knives were becoming a factor that needed to be addressed.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services replied that national measurements are included within the report, such as homicide rates and hospital admissions. She added that they are invited to form local targets and these can be progressed following the Strategic Needs Assessment.


She added that the young people known to them who have been involved in knife crime and serious violence would likely be from a stressed family background and not engaged well with school.


She said that it was difficult to talk about the three recent fatal incidents, but informed the Panel that no B&NES young person was being investigated as part of these proceedings. She added that they do work alongside other Local Authorities and their Police to see why young people would travel here and commit these offences and why might young people within B&NES travel outside of the area to do the same.

She explained that further information could be included in any future report as they have a local Steering Group that meets quarterly that reports on their in-year workplan.


The Chair commented that it felt like a number of the points that have been raised could be taken forward if the Knife Crime Task Group is to be approved later on the agenda.


Councillor Liz Hardman acknowledged that there is a Public Health approach to this work, but asked what involvement does the Police have as well as their Early Intervention Team in terms of identifying known hot spots and gathering the voice of the children.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services replied that Public Health were leading the work by consent, but assured the Panel that the Police have a very active role within it. She said that the identification of areas of concern was carried out through multi-agency work and that monthly meetings are held to discuss these matters and to attempt to identify possible solutions. She added that some joint work would take place with Wiltshire Council.


She added that they were aware of certain networks of young people who could potentially exploit / influence each other or encourage bad behaviour.


Councillor Hardman asked if this information is directly fed to the Police and then shared with other agencies.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services replied that the Police have an active role in this work and that they will be sharing the role of Chair of the information sharing group with the Violence Reduction Unit Coordinator on a monthly basis. She added that some young people are identified directly through their records and notifications are also received from the Police.


Sgt Heather Anderton added that the Early Interventions Team consists of a Sergeant, two PCs and two PCSOs per Local Authority district and currently the one within Avon & Somerset does not have any PCSOs. She added that within Avon & Somerset officers use an app called Click Sense that records all of our data, including the use of knives, weapons and hot spot locations.


She informed the Panel that until around six months ago there was also a dedicated Violence Reduction app. The app is no longer compatible with their laptops so a bespoke one is being developed. The app gives a harm score for children and young people, up to the age of 25, and identifies if they are on the cusp or well entrenched in areas of serious violence. Referrals into the Violence Reduction Partnership are then made based on these scores.


She said that another app used was Business Objects and this delivers reports directly to her team from analysts on missing children under the age of 18 in B&NES.


She added that the local Neighbourhood and Response Teams will also contact us directly if they have concerns over any individuals or groups. She added that her team has a particular focus on the 11 – 17 age range.


She said that she and the Violence Reduction Unit Coordinator 1-2 times a week and share data on a regular basis.


The Chair asked if membership of the Partnership was prescribed.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services replied that there were a number statutory partners that have a duty to collaborate and these were Police, Local Authority, Fire & Rescue, Youth Justice Services, Probation and Integrated Care Board. She said that they also welcome the involvement from other agencies, including education settings and the Voluntary Sector.


The Chair asked if representatives of the Knife Crime Task Group could have sight of the surveys to be given to young people as part of the Strategic Needs Assessment.


The Head of Young People's Prevention Services replied that they would be happy to share the question content with them.


The Panel RESOLVED to:


i)  Note the progress made in transitioning partnership arrangements from a Violence Reduction Unit to a Violence Reduction Partnership that works to fulfil the Serious Violence Duty.


ii)  Note the local initiatives being undertaken to address concern about serious violence including knife crime.

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