ECINS spoke to Paul Harris, Prevent Sergeant Cambridgeshire, Beds, Herts and Cambs Prevent Team, Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
“Our Channel Panel consists of 16 members including mental health, probation, local authorities, head of safeguarding of children and adults. A member’s role is to consider how best to help and provide support to individuals who have been referred to the panel as someone at risk of being vulnerable to counter terrorism and/or radicalisation.” said Harris.
Prevent is part of a contest strategy from the government, running in line with the Counter Terrorism Act 2015. It is now mandatory for schools, health and local authorities to be ‘Prevent Aware’ so that they understand how people can be at risk of radicalisation. There is a legal duty for panel partners to be trained in Prevent and as part of the training they refer to the Channel Panel as a partnership approach led by the local authority who is also the chair of the Channel Panel.
“My role in the Panel is to coordinate all the Prevent information and ensure that the relevant information is gathered so that all the partners can see it in realtime. Cambridgeshire Constabulary is first to use ECINS for this initiative and it is proving a really useful tool for information sharing. We have been using the system since March and it is functioning really well. Working with ecins we produced some generic forms that were bespoke to the Channel Panel initiative and that has enabled us to tailor the information we need to gather and record.
ECINS is proving invaluable in the running of the Channel Panel meetings. First I set the meeting up as a case on ECINS giving a description of what the meeting will be about. I then link the agenda and all supporting information to that case which is then available for all members to view, in realtime. It’s a secure means of gathering information giving us the security to exchange information freely. We have only a 5 day turnaround to gather the information, as set by the Channel Panel Guidelines, and ECINS enables us to do this quickly, efficiently and securely without printing out any documentation or distributing it manually.”
When the Government issued guidelines on Prevent they advised Channel Panels to use CMIS. Agencies, however, are currently not permitted to log into CMIS and so it is not possible to use the system for this purpose. As Cambridgeshire were already using ECINS and fully understood the capabilities and benefits of the system they recognised it as being the ideal platform for the initiative to fully meet a partnership approach.
“I use ECINS every day for Prevent work. When I receive a referral I task people so that they can respond whether they hold information on an individual and disclose what the information will be. I also use it to communicate with panel members, sending out agendas and information about upcoming meetings.
When we hold a meeting we project ECINS onto a big screen so that we can access all the cases one by one. Everyone involved in the meeting would have already had access to the information beforehand but being in the same room together with all the information in front of us at once allows us to discuss each case and agree outcomes in a timely fashion. I then document all actions as a task in the ECINS log and disseminate. It reduces so much time wastage, it is secure and it helps me to quickly flag up any problems such as members who are not completing their tasks within agreed timescales.
It is much easier to document the information on ECINS and it is a far more accurate and thorough process than we had in place before. Prior to using ECINS for Prevent I used to photocopy information and pass documentation around the room, it was quite archaic and slow. It is notably more professional now.
Another point I need to make is that many of our Channel Panel members had almost no experience and a real dislike for computers but they have found the transition to ‘going digital’ a positive and user-friendly experience with ECINS and are actively involved in using the system on a regular basis.”
Managing Prevent Referrals and Cases on ECINS will:
• Reduce the need to email and print
• Enable all partners to securely access information with restricted access permissions
• Speed up processes that are all audible
• Give practitioners the option to use electronic referrals
• Give practitioners access to and use of an electronic Channel Vulnerability Assessment
• Ensure that referrals are dealt with swiftly
• Where appropriate, referrals are brought to the attention of the Channel Panel ASAP
• Enable the effective management of risk and vulnerability
• Improve partnership working and secure information sharing
ECINS helps the Channel Panel Chair to:
• Have an oversight of all channel cases in their area
• Ensure the appropriate partners are invited to the meetings as panel members
• Enable effective partnership working and information sharing at panel meetings
• Ensure risks are identified and referred to the appropriate agencies
• Ensure and monitor that practitioners carry out their elements of the support plan
Background to the Channel Panel Initiative
Section 37(5) of the Counter-Terrorism and Security (CT&S) Act 2015 requires Channel Panels to be chaired by the responsible local authority. Members of the panel must include the responsible local authority and the police the relevant local authority area under Section 37(1) of the CT&S Act.
Section 38 of the CT&S Act places a duty on all partners of a panel to assist the police and the panel in carrying out their functions under the CT&S Act. The other members might include children and adults social care services and the NHS in particular.
Depending on the nature of the referral, the panel may also include, but not limited to, representatives of the following groups:
• Social Workers
• Schools. FE Colleges and universities
• Youth Offending Services
• Directors of children’s and adult’s services • Chairs of Local safeguarding Boards
• Local authority safeguarding managers
• Local authority Troubled Families Teams
• Home Office Immigration
• Border Force