Agenda and minutes

Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel - Thursday 15th April, 2021 1.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Scott Bonner 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no Declarations of Interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes - Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel - 18 February 2021 pdf icon PDF 233 KB


The minutes of the Culture and Communities Scrutiny Panel held on 18 February 2020 were submitted and approved as a correct record.



Operation Phoenix - Update

Representatives of Cleveland Police will be in attendance to provide an update on Operation Phoenix and the impact it has had.


The Chair welcomed Superintendent Mark Anderson and Sergeant Brian McCarthy to the meeting and invited them to provide their update on Operation Phoenix. 


Superintendent Anderson explained he was responsible for Local Policing south having responsibility for neighbourhood teams in Middlesbrough and Redcar as well as the response teams in those areas.

As part of the presentation the following points were made:


     The operation was ran between 6 July and 25 September but due to its successes the operation was extended to the 30th October.

     The operation was put into place due to high demand over the summer period and to target vulnerable people in the community and to improve public confidence.

     The operation saw over 300 arrests as well as the seizure of half a million pounds worth of drugs and 124 vehicles.

     The operation also saw 114 deployments of the domestic abuse car that provided support to vulnerable people who were victims of domestic abuse. 

     The background of the operation stemmed from the outcome of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that identified a need for improvement around demand and placing resources where they were needed.

     Improvements were also identified around problem solving, prevention and engagement with the community to resolve issues speedily.

     Operation phoenix was first conceived in 2019 but and its successes led to its extension and the focus on proactive responses to policing.

     The Police control room could receive up to a thousand calls per day and the actions as part of Operation Phoenix helped to sort those called in the most appropriate manner.

     The operation was broken down into three main strands; crime investigation vulnerability; and proactivity.

     There were several performance measures used to monitor the operation’s outputs, bother operational and financial.

     The operation also relied on letting other key partners, such as Local Authorities, know what progress the operation had made.

     The operation also had a dedicated communications plan that helped to illustrate the work carried out across the Cleveland area.

     In terms of vulnerability there was a need to address the back log of outstanding arrests and this resulted in putting additional resources into sex offender visits and domestic violence incidents, after which the appropriate measures could be put in place to protect victims.

     The protection of vulnerable people was achieved through three teams; the domestic abuse team; the child exploitation team; and the child abuse team.

     By using an intelligence-led proactive response the operation helped to  reduce workloads improve public confidence

     Development of the operation’s priorities and objective as achieved via a research and risk based approach. This allowed for a greater understanding of how to target offenders and allocation of appropriate resources. 

     The operation’s objectives were measured quantitatively which were in turn informed by arrest numbers and victim engagement.

     Specific initiatives included the deployment of a domestic abuse car that allowed for additional support for victims.

     The Police also engaged an external company  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/32


Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) - Update

Representatives from Strategy, Information and Governance will be in attendance to provide the Panel with an update on RIPA policy and implementation.


The Chair welcomed the Head of Strategy and Information to the meeting who presented information about Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) and made the following points:



RIPA legislation governed the use of covert surveillance techniques used by public authorities, including Councils, to detect crime.

There were three types of covert surveillance; directed surveillance; covert human intelligence and Intrusive Surveillance. Local Authorities were not permitted to use the latter.

There were criteria to follow when applications for RIPA use were made namely, custodial sentences of six months or more or the sale of tobacco and alcohol.

There was a robust internal process in place for RIPA authorisations which included three authorising officers.

Operationally RIPA operations were only put in place as a last resort, and stopped when sufficient evidence was gathered, although there were options for renewal.

RIPA was not used often, with only a small number of operations taking place within the last four years.

RIPA processes were inspected externally. At the Council’s last inspection the feedback praised its records management and the system used to monitor RIPA authorisations. The full report will be provided to the Corporate Affairs and Audit Committee at its next meeting.

A new RIPA was being developed that would look to include RIPA operations into crimes that did not meet the threshold.

The revised RIPA policy would also look to address issues surrounding CCTV which would in turn touch on the Council’s CCTV code of practice.

Ultimatley very little about operational matters relating to RIPA as this were confidential.


A Member queried if there was scope to expand the remit ot RIPA as this may assit in capturing more crime and disorder. However it was clarified that the the use of RIPA needed to be within the confines of the law. RIPA operations needed to be carried out proportionally. 


A Member queried if, in the course of using RIPA, signage is used to alert people to the fact that CCTV camera were in use. It was clarified that consistent signage would be created as part of the revised RIPA policy.


The Chair thanked the officers for their presentation.


ORDERED: That the information presented to the Panel be noted.


Neighbourhood Warden Service Review - Draft Terms of Reference


The Democratic Services Officer advised the panel that, after receiving suggestions from Members the Warden Service review should encompass the following draft Terms of Reference:


1. To examine the impact the Neighborhood Warden Service has had since its expansion.


2. To understand how Middlesbrough’s Neighborhood Warden Service compares to similar services.


AGREED: That the Draft Terms of Reference presented to the Panel be used to define the Warden Service Review.


Chair's OSB Update


The Chair advised the Panel that at the last meeting of OSB the Chief Executive and Director of Public Health provided an update on the Council’s continuing response and recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Executive Member for Communities and Education also provided an update on their portfolio as well as receiving an update on progress against the Strategic Plan and Revenue Capital Budgets at Quarter 3. 


ORDERED: That the information provided be noted.


Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.