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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection): 6th October 2011

 

Report of the Chief Executive

 

Bridgend County Borough Council - Investigation of the Effectiveness of Partnerships and Communities Together (PACT) Meetings

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To seek the views of Members regarding an invitation received from Bridgend County Borough Council to participate in the above investigation.

Recommendation

The Committee is requested to consider the proposed arrangements for undertaking the above investigation on the basis of joint working arrangements with Bridgend County Borough Council and if deemed appropriate, nominate three Members of this Scrutiny Committee to serve as co - optees on the PACT Research and Evaluation Panel.

Reason for the Recommendation

To obtain the views of the Scrutiny Committee and to inform Bridgend County Borough Council of the Committees stance on this matter.

Background

2.             The Scrutiny Unit at Bridgend County Borough Council designed a survey for all Members of the Council relating to the PACT process as part of administering its responsibilities in regard to crime and disorder matters. The aim of the questionnaire was to seek views around the extent and nature of PACT meetings as a form of community engagement. The survey was distributed to all of Bridgend County Borough Council Councillors electronically and in hard copy accompanied by an information sheet detailing the objectives of the research.  To ensure a high response rate, follow up emails, letters and phone calls were directed to Members, which resulted in a 74% response rate.

3.             The results of the survey were presented back to Bridgend's Scrutiny Committee responsible for crime and disorder matters in March 2010 and the Committee subsequently decided to form a Research and Evaluation Panel to consider the following factors identified by the survey as being significant drivers of local confidence in the PACT process:

                   Partnership working;

                   Role of the Elected Member;

                   Fear of crime;

                   Chairing and meeting management;

                   Publicity.

4.             The PACT Research and Evaluation Panel will be guided by the following four research questions:

                   How well do Community Safety Partners currently work together in addressing low level crime and social disorder via the PACT process?

                   How well does PACT function as a method of community engagement?

                   What is the impact of PACT upon the public’s feelings of confidence in crime reduction agencies?

                   In what ways could the PACT process be improved?

5.             The preferred methodology for the Research and Evaluation Panel is as follows:

                   Identification and evaluation of existing local research and documentation;

                   Literature review of Neighbourhood Policing and public confidence;

                   Semi-structured interviews with agencies comprising the Bridgend Community Safety Partnership;

                   Semi-structured interviews with expert witnesses / Scrutiny colleagues;

                   Observation of PACT meetings;

                   Observation of Neighbourhood Management steering group meetings (or meetings of the replacement group that monitors PACT priorities).

6.             Potential Outcomes of the Panel’s investigation are proposals that could lead to:

                   Improved inter-agency working in the areas of Neighbourhood Management and Community Engagement;

                   Greater engagement of Elected Members in the PACT process;

                   A more developed understanding of the role of Elected Member within PACT;

                   Better identification and referral of PACT priorities and PACT projects;

                   Improved framing of meaningful community-specific outcomes;

                   More efficient resolution of immediate PACT priorities and long term PACT projects;

                   Improved management and public expectations relating to low level crime and social disorder;

                   Improved levels of public confidence in the Police and Local Authority as crime reduction agencies.

7.             The Bridgend County Borough Council Community Safety and Governance Committee have nominated five members to the PACT Research and Evaluation Panel.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             The Partnership Protocol developed by Bridgend Community Safety Partnership provides for Scrutiny to consult with those partners on the scope of investigative exercises relating to crime and disorder. A report was considered by the Bridgend Community Safety Partnership Executive Group on 7th September 2011. The Group and have indicated their support for the investigation, the proposed investigative methods and joint working proposal with this Council.

9.             Bridgend County Borough Council Scrutiny Unit will request information regarding the PACT process and its effectiveness from the Community Safety Partnership to support the Panel’s investigation at key stages.  It is also the intention for the Panel to conduct interviews with some representatives of Agencies comprising the Bridgend Community Safety Partnership, as directed by the investigation’s key research questions.

10.        As South Wales Police serves six Local Authorities in addition to Bridgend County Borough Council, the opportunity exists to involve the Elected Members of one or more such Local Authority in the investigation, which could aid the co-ordination of work programmes as recommended by Welsh Government guidance relating to Crime and Disorder Scrutiny.

11.        Consequently, Bridgend County Borough Council Scrutiny Unit has approached your officers regarding participation in the above exercise. They have indicated that they are prepared to share the survey results with the Council. The Head of Public Protection has indicated that a similar exercise was undertaken two years ago by the Vale CSP and he will share with Bridgend the PACT guide developed as a result of the exercise. Whilst the offer of access to the survey results is welcomed these may have limited value within the context of the Vale, The opportunity to become involved in a joint scrutiny exercise is in principle supported by officers given the collaboration agenda promoted by the Welsh Government through the Local Government Measure.

12.        Bridgend County Borough Council are seeking the nomination of three Members of this Scrutiny Committee to participate as co-optees on the Research and Evaluation Panel and support of an officer from the Scrutiny and Committee Services team who could also attend meetings and co-ordinate the attendance of the Vale Members.  In terms of time commitment, they propose to hold a minimum of 6 meetings at 3 to 4 weekly intervals between now and March / April 2012. The venue for meetings will be at the Civic Offices, Bridgend and will be held during the daytime.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

13.        Officers' time and travelling expenses associated with Members attendance if the decision of the Committee is to accept the invitation.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

14.        The Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 will introduce guidance for joint scrutiny working arrangements between local authorities in Wales.

Crime and Disorder Implications

15.        The implementation of Sections 19 & 20 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 in Wales provides the power to Scrutiny Committees to scrutinise key partners in relation to community safety.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

16.        None as a result of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

17.        Corporate Plan action CL11 "Develop operational partnerships with other Councils to promote shared service provision" refers

Policy Framework and Budget

18.        This is a matter for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee. Paragraph 6.03 (v) of the Councils Constitution states that Scrutiny Committees may "liaise with other external organisations operating in the area, whether national, regional or local, to ensure that the interests of local people are enhanced by collaborative working".

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.        There are no ward member implications as a consequence of this report.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.        Housing and Public Protection.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Jeff Rees, Tel: 01446 709413

 

Officers Consulted

Chief Executive, Head of Public Protection, Head of Performance and Development, Operational Manager Democratic Services.

 

Responsible Officer:

John Maitland Evans, Chief Executive