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					                                                              Agenda Item No.
HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

COUNTY COUNCIL
TUESDAY 21 JULY 2009 AT 10.30 A.M.                       5 G(i)
EXECUTIVE REPORTS TO COUNTY COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE MEMBER FOR COMMUNITY SAFETY AND CULTURE


1.    Fire and Rescue

      Community Fire Safety Volunteers

1.1   On 7 July the Stevenage and North Herts Volunteers‟ Scheme was
      launched. Sixteen individuals have been recruited from various walks
      of life to act in a voluntary capacity as community safety advocates. All
      volunteers received training so they can perform home fire safety
      checks and give basic home fire safety advice. The volunteers give a
      minimum of six hours per month dependent on their availability. This
      scheme complements the scheme which has already been piloted and
      launched in Watford and Three Rivers Districts. This programme will
      contribute directly to our objective of promoting safer neighbourhoods,
      and specifically by promoting volunteering.

      Retained duty system

1.2   The Service has completed its first newly formatted Retained Duty
      System (RDS) trainee firefighter course. Previously RDS staff received
      basic training over one week and then returned to Training Centre
      periodically over the following two years to receive further training. The
      new course consolidates and enhances all existing training into a 14
      week period with trainees attending Training Centre at various times
      (weekends, evenings, two full weeks) during this period. The new
      course means attendees go „on the run‟ fully trained, including being
      fully trained in the use of breathing apparatus. The first course of this
      nature was completed on 9 June; it culminated in a Pass Out Evening
      on 11 June when twelve new RDS firefighters demonstrated their newly
      acquired skills to an audience including their families and friends and
      colleagues from around the Service.

      Promoting equalities

1.3   As a Council we remain committed to promoting diversity and equality
      of opportunity. The Fire and Rescue Service has won the East of
      England Regional Councils‟ Equality Award for its work with the Polish
      community in Hatfield. The Station Commander, Peter Hill, devised
      this innovative project which aims to help the expanding local Polish
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      community further integrate into the local area whilst receiving fire
      safety advice and guidance. The local fire station in Hatfield has
      thrown open its doors so members of the Polish community can have
      somewhere to meet and also have a central location where invited
      guests can address this community. Peter and his crews in Hatfield
      have used their local knowledge to assist in this process and ensure
      someone is always on hand to assist.

      Working in partnership

1.4   Fire Investigation officers continuously work with Herts Constabulary to
      identify cases of arson. Recently two cases have been taken to court,
      one for a fire in Berkhamsted and one in Stevenage. In both cases a
      guilty verdict was returned with one individual receiving a four year
      prison sentence.

      Commercial training

1.5   The Service‟s Commercial Training Department won the contract to
      train the East of England Ambulance Service Hazardous Area
      Response Team (HART). All members of the East of England
      Ambulance HART have now received their initial training with the
      Service‟s training staff receiving significant plaudits for the high
      standard of training. In addition, the Service has also been awarded
      the contact for the HART continuation training.


2.    Resilience and Emergency Planning

2.1   The Authority continues to work closely with its partners in the county‟s
      Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to respond to the current influenza
      pandemic (“swine flu”). Hertfordshire has been the county most
      affected within the Eastern Region with parts of the county designated
      as areas of sustained community transmission (“hot spots”) since late
      June. The government‟s move from the “containment” phase to one of
      “treatment” has meant that efforts to restrict the spread of swine flu
      have now ceased and consequently since then, school closures have
      only taken place in exceptional circumstances.

2.2   As set out in the LRF flu plan, a Strategic Co-ordinating Group has
      been established, lead by the Primary Care Trust which is co-ordinating
      multi-agency local response arrangements. This includes planning for
      the establishment of a number of antiviral Collection Points (ACPs)
      across the county, in the event that initial arrangements with
      pharmacies for the distribution of anti-virals becomes unsustainable.
      The Government has also announced that 60 million doses of a swine
      flu vaccine will be available by the end of the year and the county
      council will work with LRF partners to plan for a mass vaccination
      programme, starting in the early autumn which will initially be targeted
      at “high risk” groups and frontline NHS and social care staff.
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2.3   Within the Authority, service leads have met regularly to review the
      HCC Pandemic Flu Plan and refresh business continuity arrangements
      across the organisation. Enhanced cleaning regimes have been
      implemented, where required, to reduce the potential spread of the
      virus and a communication strategy is in place to promote the
      importance on sound hand-hygiene and other actions which staff and
      managers can take to protect themselves and others from swine flu.

3.    Statutory Services

      Coroner Service

3.1   The Coroners and Justice Bill has completed its passage through the
      House of Commons and is now being considered by the House of
      Lords. Second Reading in the House of Lords took place on 18 May
      and Committee Stage, where there was a line by line examination of
      the Bill, started in June. It is currently expected that the Bill the achieve
      Royal Assent in the autumn (2009).

3.2   The Secretary of State for the Department of Transport made a
      statement on 19 June 2009 with regards the rail accidents at Grayrigg
      and Potters Bar. It has been decided that there will not be a public
      inquiry into the incidents and that they will be dealt with by two
      independent inquest hearings. Preparations are underway for holding
      an inquest into the Potters Bar derailment in Hertfordshire. Funding
      arrangements remain in place with the Ministry of Justice and
      Department for Transport.

      Registration Service

3.3   The Registration Service adopted New Governance arrangements,
      which allows for greater control of registration services by the Local
      Authority, in April 2008 and as such is required to report annually to the
      General Register Office. The first Annual Stewardship Report was
      published in May 2009. This report is due to report to the Community
      Safety and Culture panel in September.

3.4   Watford Registration Office in Clarendon Road has been identified for
      disposal as part of the TW3 programme. Alternative premises have
      been identified in Hempstead Road and preparation is underway for the
      relocation. Timescales are unclear at this time.

3.5   Following the success of last years Citizenship Ceremony at Hatfield
      House and in line with Lord Goldsmith's recommendations, the
      Citizenship Unit will be holding a ceremony at Brocket Hall on 3 August
      2009.

4.    Trading Standards


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      Illegal Money Lending Project (Loan Sharks)

4.1   Since September 2004, the Government has committed £11 million to
      tackling the problem of loan sharks. BERR (now BIS – Department for
      Business, Innovation and Skills) committed to fund loan shark teams to
      tackle illegal money lending in every region in Britain until March 2011.

4.2   Trading Standards through their regional and national connections
      have secured the offer for a Loan Shark Team to work in Hertfordshire
      (at no extra cost to the County Council) from October onwards in order
      to target loan sharks and work with individuals and partner agencies to
      provide alternative sources of credit. The project would contribute
      towards the following:

      Reducing crime and the fear of crime

4.3   Illegal moneylenders invariably target low-income households and the
      most vulnerable members of society. This can mean that their
      activities have disproportionate implications for the more deprived
      areas and action taken against them therefore supports the policy
      priorities associated with crime and disorder and protecting the more
      vulnerable members of the community. The more deprived areas of the
      county and more vulnerable are likely to feel the consequences of the
      recession acutely.

      Improving the quality of life of Hertfordshire residents and communities

4.4   Illegal money lending has a serious detrimental effect on both
      individuals and the community. Tackling the root causes and providing
      legitimate alternative sources of credit will contribute to reducing stress
      and pressures on many individuals and communities.

      Strengthening the Hertfordshire Economy

4.5   Marginalising rogue traders creates an environment which supports
      and encourages legitimate credit providers.

      General

4.6   Illegal money lending covers a range of activities, from persons that are
      actually licensed but are acting unlawfully (for example by cold calling)
      to the extreme of a person offering cash loans without being licensed at
      all (Loan Sharks). Loan Shark activity is characterised by deliberate
      criminal fraud and theft, with extortionate rates of interest on loans that
      mean borrowers face demands for payment of thousands of pounds
      more than they borrowed and can never pay off the loans. Borrowers
      who fail to pay or refuse to pay can be subject to intimidation, theft,
      forced prostitution and other, extreme physical violence.



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4.7    The work would be carried out by Birmingham City Council under
       delegated powers. The Birmingham based project team, funded by the
       Treasury, is able to provide additional expert resources and protection
       for the benefit of Hertfordshire citizens at no cost to HCC. The remit of
       the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) is to investigate illegal money
       lending activity and establish if a problem exists and, if so, bring to
       justice those persons carrying on this activity.

       Authorisations

4.8    In order to expand the scheme into Hertfordshire the existing
       Birmingham team require proper authorisation of the officers to carry
       out the investigations and for all the associated legal processes and
       costs thereof to be delegated to Birmingham City Council. This will
       necessitate a decision by Cabinet.

4.9    This area of law enforcement requires specialist expertise, techniques
       and facilities which Trading Standards would not otherwise have
       access to. Members of the IMLT include officers with high level training
       and expertise in surveillance techniques as well as security operations.
       The team includes, amongst others, ex police officers and security
       services personnel.

       Additional Funding to HCC for Tobacco Control

4.10   HCC has recently received an additional £100,000 via a new grant
       scheme (funded by the Department of Health working with the Local
       Government Association (LGA)) to assist local government in reducing
       health inequalities by supporting the implementation of tobacco control
       activity in local communities.

4.11   Smoking is one of the principal causes of health inequality and
       continues to be one of the most significant public health challenges.
       International evidence shows that the implementation of an integrated
       and comprehensive tobacco control programme is the key to driving
       down smoking prevalence in communities.

4.12   These additional monies are to be used by HCC to work within the local
       health partnerships to develop and implement integrated and
       comprehensive tobacco control programmes locally.

4.13   The Head of Trading Standards sits on the County-wide Tobacco
       Control Strategy Group, along with the CSF Head of Young People's
       Substance Misuse and Crime Reduction Services, and Senior Officers
       within the Hertfordshire PCTs. The group is chaired by Dr Jane Halpin,
       Director of Public Health / Deputy Chief Executive, East & North / West
       Herts PCTs.

4.14   The group is currently developing the county level tobacco control
       strategy, which will:
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         Create and support effective local partnerships
         Gather and use data to inform tobacco control
         Tackle inequalities
         Deliver consistent, coherent and co-ordinated communication
         Ensure an integrated stop smoking approach
         Build and sustain capacity to deliver tobacco control
         Tackle cheap and illicit tobacco
         Influence change through advocacy
         Help young people to be tobacco free
         Maintain and promote smoke free environments


4.15      The establishment of effective partnerships is an important foundation
          on which to drive tobacco control in Hertfordshire. These partnerships
          need to be strategic and create a co-ordinated approach to tobacco.
          The organisation chart of the partnerships to achieve these objectives
          can be made available to Members on request.

5.        Crime and disorder reduction

5.1       Thirteen secondary schools are joining the innovative pilot scheme this
          year to teach pupils about the sensitive subject of domestic abuse and
          positive relationships. The county council and its partners launched a
          thought-provoking DVD and teaching pack, called Dark Side of the
          Moon, on Wednesday 17 June, when actors from Outloud Productions
          gave a dramatic performance of events in the fictional Rose household.
          Some 80 people attended the launch at the council‟s Stevenage
          campus, including representatives from all 13 schools, Victim Support,
          the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire Janie Wentworth-Stanley and several
          Hertfordshire County Councillors. This scheme is a major contribution
          towards our objective to promote safe neighbourhoods by providing
          support for young people caught up in Domestic Violence.

5.2       Hertfordshire Drugs Partnership is one of seven pilot areas selected by
          Central Government to implement a drugs system change pilot.
          £200,000 of funding has been secured to take this work forward. The
          planned changes will impact on the way drug treatment and related
          support services will be delivered as well as having a significant impact
          on reducing drug misuse, drug related crime and anti-social behaviour
          which will impact on communities‟ perceptions of drug use and dealing.
          The pilot will focus on protecting communities, drug users and their
          families from the harm caused by problem drug use, offering holistic
          support with issues such as housing, benefits, education and training
          as well as support to drug users‟ families to help support rehabilitation.



6.        Cultural services

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      Key developments for Libraries

6.1   The development of public libraries as local access points for County
      Council services began in February 2009 and will be rolled out to all the
      47 static libraries in the county by Jun 2010. This service complements
      access to council services already provided through the Customer
      Service Centre and online through the hertsdirect website. It is in line
      with the recommendations of the Varney report, „Service
      Transformation: a better service for citizens, businesses and the
      taxpayer‟ (2006) and supports the Way We Work rationalisation of local
      council offices into three main sites which had reduced local walk in
      access to council services

6.2   Libraries are well placed in local communities with extensive opening
      hours and are well known and well used by a large proportion of the
      population. Library staff already offer free, authoritative, non-
      judgemental information and are skilled in helping people to find
      information and signposting to other services. In addition, all libraries
      offer free internet access and can provide IT taster sessions for people
      with little or no computer skills.

6.3   Five pilot sites at Hoddesdon, Rickmansworth, Hitchin, St Albans and
      Welwyn Garden City were opened in February 2009 and all libraries in
      Welwyn Hatfield and Hertsmere Districts will start operating as
      Hertfordshire Local centres in July 2009. Hertfordshire Local will be
      launched at other libraries in the next nine months following essential
      staff training and installation of building signage.

6.4   The Hertfordshire Local concept was promoted at the Hertfordshire
      County Show in May 2008 and drew a steady stream of enquiries. Most
      enquiries were not from people who had no Internet access, but from
      people who didn‟t know where to start looking for the information they
      wanted. Library staff were on hand to assist them.

6.5   Hertfordshire Local is a key priority in the 2009-12 Corporate Plan and
      the development of libraries to provide communities with information
      and resources they need on a wide range of subjects is essential to
      achieving this.

6.6   The concept was showcased at a national conference in London in July
      (Delivering Local Outcomes through Libraries). The Director of CSF,
      John Harris, delivered a presentation on how Hertfordshire Local
      enabled the delivery of the digital inclusion agenda within the context of
      information literacy. His presentation addressed the aim of helping
      people to find information for themselves in a library or outside, to
      direct them to reliable information and to educate them in how to
      search and use resources.




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Keith Emsall
Executive Member for Community Safety & Culture
July 2009




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