Agenda and minutes

Residents' Services Select Committee - Thursday, 24th November, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Liz Penny  01895 250185

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting




To receive the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 344 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 19 October 2022 be agreed as an accurate record.


To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in public and those marked Part II will be considered in private


It was confirmed that all items of business were marked Part I and would be considered in public.


Crime and Disorder Scrutiny - Police and Probation Service pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Additional documents:


Ayodeji Ogunyemi, Head of Service – Ealing and Hillingdon Probation Service, presented the Committee with information regarding the Probation Service. Key points highlighted included:


·         In October 2022, the Probation Service in Hillingdon was managing 589 males in the community, 341 in custody and 63 females in the community, 10 in custody. In terms of ethnicity, the highest proportion was white British, followed by ‘not recorded’ and black;

·         In terms of criminogenic needs, key factors associated with offence-related behaviours in Hillingdon were lifestyle and associates, thinking and behaviour, attitudes and employment, training and education;

·         To assist in addressing these offence-related behaviours and reducing the risk to the public, a number of service providers attended the Probation offices. The Probation Service had its own internally accredited ‘Thinking Skills Programme’ to assist with improving attitudes, thinking and behaviour. This would include those who felt their offending was warranted;

·         Commissioned service providers included employment support (Maximus, Advance Minerva); ARCH to assist those with substance issues; HAWK, St Mungo’s and Trinity to assist with accommodation needs both for those in custody and in the community; SGO (Serious Gangs and Organised Crime) - an internal department to assist in addressing violence and gang-related behaviours focus which was a significant factor in Hillingdon; CF03 to assist with employment, training, education, finances and obtaining ID and benefits;

·         Hillingdon Probation Service had an office based in Uxbridge - support services were in attendance at set times each week to ensure a collaborative approach, offer support and assess risk;

·         Enforcement action – failure to engage with Probation Services could result in offenders being taken to Court or returned to custody if the risk was deemed to be unmanageable in the Community;

·         Re. Uxbridge Magistrates, regular bi-monthly meetings were held with the sentencers to discuss concerns and provide updates. Meetings were also held with the District Judge;

·         Probation services attempted to complete quality reports swiftly and made recommendations to sentencers as to the appropriate course of action for each individual on probation;

·         Sentencers were invited to provide feedback re. how probation services engaged with them. A float Probation practitioner was available to pick up cases on the day to aid swift justice. An additional external regional resource was also available to assist in writing pre-sentence reports to free up Hillingdon staff to complete on the day reports;

·         Ealing and Hillingdon Probation Services had been inspected by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation in October 2022 and had received an ‘inadequate’ score of 3 out of 27 - this was a very disappointing score. The report highlighted the impact of the pandemic, unification and staff shortages but the service had been judged on the expectations of the Inspectorate;

·         The Quality Improvement Delivery Plan included adoption of the Prioritising Probation Framework (PPF) – due to staff shortages, there was a need to focus on high-risk cases and senior probation officers had oversight of this risk. The Inspectorate report had noted that support services were well used in Hillingdon and staff made significant referrals to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Community Cohesion and Prevent pdf icon PDF 187 KB


Fiona Gibbs, Stronger Communities Manager, addressed the Committee informing Members of the work being undertaken to build stronger communities, promote community cohesion and manage the risk relating to extremism.


Members heard that health inequalities had been highlighted by the pandemic, particularly within certain communities. The team had led on reaching out to those communities across the Borough and established an action plan in partnership with health colleagues and H4All.


Members were informed that the Council had a statutory duty to deliver against Prevent in order to safeguard and support those vulnerable to radicalisation and keep communities safe. In respect of Protect duty, there was currently no legislative requirement for organisations to consider; however, the proposed Protect duty legislation was due to be presented to Parliament imminently and would have implications for partnership working in the future. It was confirmed that Central Government would also be reviewing the whole of its Contest strategy which would include Prevent and Protect - the changes would be published next year.


In response to questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that there were no education or religious settings of particular concern in Hillingdon at present. Referrals were spread across the Borough and were increasingly of an extreme right-wing nature. The situation was becoming more complex with a mix of people vulnerable to radicalisation. Isolation during lockdown had also had a significant impact. In terms of support for referrers, a website and dedicated reporting line were available to enable people to make referrals anonymously. Referrals from professionals were treated with care and details of referees would not automatically be shared. Members were informed that training was provided to communities and professionals to raise awareness of radicalisation / extremism and how to report concerns. It was noted that not all unpalatable views constituted extremism, but views and behaviours could still be concerning; this was a complex area which needed to be managed and the team was available to assist and give advice. It was important that the response was proportionate.


In response to further questioning, the Committee heard that the Hate Crime Upstanders Programme was a training programme originally aimed at staff and volunteers within voluntary or community groups. It had since been expanded to include some Council services such as libraries. The training raised awareness of hate crime, how to report it and how to support people who needed help. The aim was to encourage local communities and groups to speak up and assist the Council in better understanding what was going on in the community. Those who had undertaken the training had an opportunity to meet on a monthly basis to share issues and give feedback. To reach into communities, it was acknowledged that it was easier to engage with known community leaders of local community groups rather than with every individual. However, the Team, in working collaboratively with those community leaders and active community members, alongside a wide range of partners, aimed to reach out as widely as possible. It was acknowledged that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.


Allotments Update pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Additional documents:


Stuart Hunt, Head of Green Spaces, provided the Committee Members with an update on allotments sites in the Borough. The Committee was advised that the Terms and Conditions were currently being overhauled. An Allotments Officer had been recruited and plots were being allocated to ensure parity and fairness.


In response to Members’ questions, the Committee was informed that there was no evidence to suggest that cannabis was being grown at allotment sites. Sites were checked regularly to ensure they were being used appropriately.


Councillors requested clarification regarding security and safety at allotment sites in the Borough. It was confirmed that sites were secured using a standard padlock which was readily available. This rarely presented any issues; however, a combination padlock could be provided if necessary.


Members heard that self-managed sites could make some decisions independently – other matters required Council input. It was confirmed that those aged 65 and over were required to provide proof of age in order to secure a plot free of charge. All allotment plot holders were contacted annually to ensure they were cultivating their plots appropriately; a non-cultivation notice would be issued if they were not. The Team was considering reducing the size of plots in the future, especially for new starters, to make them more manageable.


In response to further questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that younger people were becoming more interested in allotments. Diversity was also increasing across the sites in the Borough. In terms of administration, the allotments system had not yet been linked to ‘My Account’ but this could be reviewed in the future.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the update set out in the report.


Empty Homes Council Tax Premium Minor Review - draft final report pdf icon PDF 363 KB


The Committee welcomed the report and noted the inclusion of a short section in relation to publicity of the proposed changes to the Council Tax Premium policy if agreed by Cabinet.


RESOLVED: That the Residents’ Services Select Committee agreed the draft report and updated recommendations to Cabinet and delegated any minor amendments to Democratic Services, in consultation with the Chairman and Labour Lead, prior to submission to Cabinet.


Empty Homes Premium - Draft Cabinet Report pdf icon PDF 213 KB


The discussion of this item was included within agenda item 8.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 328 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED: That the Forward Plan be noted.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 434 KB

Additional documents:


Members requested that the following items be included in the 2023/24 Work Programme – Strategic Climate Action Plan Annual Update and an Annual Update on Engagement with Tenants and Leaseholders. In response to Members’ requests for clarification, it was confirmed that the Strategic Climate Action Plan had been postponed twice; once due to changes to the work programme following the death of Queen Elizabeth and once due to staff changes - a new officer had been recruited very recently and needed to gain a better understanding of the role prior to addressing the Scrutiny Committee.


RESOLVED: That the Residents’ Services Select Committee considered the Work Programme report and agreed to the suggested amendments.