We were pleased to be able to have a recent virtual meeting with Lee Spear, Community Safety Officer for the London Boroughs of Richmond and Wandsworth who use ECINS for the implementation of Community MARACs, IOM, Violent Crime Projects, Rough Sleeping, MARV, managing ward profiles and for the enforcement of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs).
Lee spoke to us about how Wandsworth use the ECINS Referral Module to manage their PSPOs, a council power that police can use to issue fixed penalty notices if people breach it within a designated area within a particular time.
Lee said “Previously across the Borough there have been PSPOs in place and historically there have been issues around how PSPOs are enforced and I don’t think that is just a problem in Wandworth and Richmond but in other areas too that I’m aware of. Issues can be what Fixed Penalty Notices are available and how you know if people have breached a PSPO previously and those sorts of issues have arisen. In October 2020 a Borough-wide PSPO was brought into Wandsworth covering ASB with drinking in a public place, psychoactive substances (particularly nitrous oxide canisters) and dog control though with the ECINS Referral Module we are focusing on the ASB aspects. The reason we brought the Referral Module in is to encourage enforcement, streamline the strategy, make it as easy as possible for partners to enforce the PSPO and for further action to be taken if need be and to encourage working between agencies.
We designed an Enforcement Form which has been created into a public link which we have sent out to partners who will be enforcing the PSPOs – the Police and anyone else with designated powers. It is really quick and easy to fill in and takes a couple of minutes to go through. The great thing is that It has everything that we need contained within that Form. Initially we designed the Form and held a training session for everybody who would be enforcing the PSPOs – the Safer Neighbourhood Teams and the other Council Departments who would be enforcing. We did training around the powers, what the Enforcement Plan would be and how it is managed through ECINS. The process is if the Police Officer, or whoever is enforcing, finds someone who is breaching the PSPO on the street, they have a very basic Proforma that they fill in just to get the details and then they fill in the ECINS Form. They can do it whilst mobile if they want or they can come back to the station and at a convenient time fill in the ECINS Form, submit it and then they get a record to say they have submitted it. The Form then automatically goes to the Administration person in the Environment and Communities Team who gets a notification that there has been a new referral. The first thing they would do is open up the referral and see if the person is known previously for a breach. If they have then the referral gets passed to the Community Safety Team Manager to see if it needs to be escalated to a FPN or a prosecution. If they haven’t been convicted before and, assuming it is suitable for a warning and they have a confirmed address, then we would provide a warning if there has been no previous action.
We are going through a transition phase at the moment where we are learning and encouraging people to enforce the PSPO and giving warnings. This is education for the public and for those people using it. It is all new and we want to encourage initial enforcement of it. It has been really successful so far, since introducing it in late October we have had 15-16 breaches which is good and the system is working really well.
I did a training session with the Administrator to make sure she was comfortable with how it works but it is a really easy system to use. Once we’ve passed the warning transition phase anyone breaching the PSPO will be transferred into the ECINS Case Management System. Because we are already using the ECINS Case Management System for so many other business areas it allows us to get a really good overview of what we have going on and ties in well with the Neighbourhood Profiles we are working on. The idea is that somebody could click on a specific Ward and get a full oversight of what is going on in the Borough. The PSPO is an important part of that because if the psychoactive substances or street drinking ASB has happened more than once you would imagine there might be further action required in addition to the PSOP breach. Once a month we export the data which is really useful and quick and easy to use. We click the fields that we need to export, save it as a template and every month I click a button and get an excel spreadsheet which shows the Ward the offence happened in, what the breach was, the name of the person who enforced the breach and what the outcome was. We also look at the other protective characteristics around that so we can get a clear overview of who is being issued with these PSPOs.
With this information once a month we go to the Community Safety Officers and Team Managers and then we can have discussions with our Police Teams and partners about where the breaches are taking place. We can see if they are happening in one area, with none in other areas so far, we can discuss if they comfortable with the system and whether they need any more input. We can say to teams like Housing that we are getting data to show issues such as incidents of nitrous oxide canisters being found in locations but no PSPO breaches so can they make sure that the data is passed to the Police and it all ties in.
Paul Dunn, Programme Manager for ECINS said “Using the ECINS PSPO Referral Module is a much more efficient way of managing the PSPO especially as it is Borough-wide and a big area so you are able to see not only where breaches are occurring but where emerging issues are arising as well. You can then target and task Police Officers and Council workers to go into these areas and use the powers more effectively because you can see the bigger picture. It is also a good way to review your PSPO, whether it is working or not working, and which areas are being effectively dealt with in relation to ASB and which areas need to be concentrated on more. It also shows more emerging issues arising in the future or where you may need to alter the PSPO to deal with those specific issues.
Lee responded “Absolutely. It allows us to do that, and being able to pull that data off quickly is something we were not able to do before – having an overview of where the breaches are and where the gaps might be. If we know we are getting complaints of ASB in an area where a PSPO is not yet breached then we know perhaps we need to have a closer look at that area.
Paul said “We know that Councils can prosecute breaches so again this is a way for the Councils to be able to effectively manage those people who are actually being prosecuted so rather than just issuing fixed penalty notices, because you have an overall picture now you are able to map those issues on the Referral Module and make sure you are not being overzealous in certain areas in the way that FPNs are being issued. You are not targeting in a disproportionate way certain groups, what you are doing is using it in a fair and proportionate way, at the right time in the right way, against the right issues.
Lee said ”That’s it. What it also allows us to do is at the point of transferring it into the ECINS Case Management System is then see which other agencies are working with this person and if there needs to be an input from another agency. It might be that somebody who is flagged as ASB with drinking in a public place are known to the Rough Sleeping Team or the IOM cohort and it allows us that joint working.
Paul said “I think that is really important with PSPOs especially with ASB where you are dealing with nitrous oxide and where you need to have the support of preventative measures as well as enforcement measures. By identifying those prominent individuals that are coming to notice time and time again you can transfer that information into the ECINS Case Management System and problem solve that individual with other agencies so that it is not just a case of fining people, particularly people in possibly vulnerable situations. Instead you can see what is going on and looking at the best possible option to deal with that individual. If necessary, if that person needs a much more supportive or protective plan then that can be done within the Case Management System.
Lee said “Yes it allows us a more holistic approach to dealing with issues rather than just going out and issuing FPNs without any overview of the situation”.
Paul asked “Do you feel by using the Referral Module there have been time and efficiency savings already identified and evidenced from this new way of working?
Lee responded “I think the feedback we have had back from the Police so far is good as it is really quick and easy for them to refer in. We are still at the early stages but what we will see is that some of that time saving will come when we are problem solving because there is a way of us going out there enforcing it quite clearly. The legislation is there but now the enforcement plan is in place and we’ve got a pathway to managing that.
Paul said “As you said before, your initial partnership working with the Police (which I know is good in those two boroughs), but with PSPOs, because it is a Council prosecuted offence there has been criticism in other parts of the country that the Police don’t tend to enforce because it is not a Police prosecution as such. Because the Police are working more effectively with the Council in your two Boroughs and they are seeing some end result and the impact their work is having there is a much better working relationship between you and the Police in relation to managing the PSPOs.
Lee responded “Yes the conditions we have around the PSPO are based around data and another power for the police to use with a clear strategy now for how that is implemented.
Heather Ette, Marketing Manager for ECINS asked “Are you using the mapping functionality to identify hotspots in the Boroughs?
Lee replied “It’s quite early stages at the moment but we will look at the mapping for separate business areas as we are looking at having an oversight of Wards so we can map the PSPO data, the MARV nominals and the OOM nominals to give us all the different strands of business we have within ECINS in one place. We also have our Schools, Places of Worship and Voluntary Organsiations on there so having all that tied together will give us a really good overview of what we have on a Ward by Ward basis. At the moment it is working really well, we are really happy with it and have had good feedback particularly being able to pull the data off so easily is so beneficial.