Agenda and draft minutes

Hidden and Extreme Harms Prevention Committee - Thursday, 15th December, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, CO3, New Road, Grays, RM17 6SL

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

14.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Hidden and Extreme Harms Prevention Committee held on 4 October 2022.

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Minutes:

The minutes of the Hidden and Extreme Harms Prevention Committee meeting held on 4 October 2022 were approved as a true and correct record.

15.

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be

considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B

(4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

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Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

16.

Declarations of Interest

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Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

17.

Essex Police: Operation Raptor Verbal Update

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Minutes:

Detective Inspector (DI) Tanya Steele introduced herself and explained that the Operation Raptor team within Essex Police operated county-wide and was dedicated to tackling county lines drug distribution and high harm groups within this. She explained that the Operation Raptor team was embedded within the Serious Violence Unit and followed the ‘Triple P Model’ of prevent, protect, and pursue to reduce the risk of harm to Essex residents. DI Steele clarified the definition of county lines, which was gangs and organised criminals who export and distribute illegal drugs within the UK using dedicated phone lines, and had been agreed upon in Serious Violence Unit Strategy 2018. She explained that the county line gangs often used young people to move and store drugs, and used violence and sexual violence on these young people. DI Steele added that Operation Raptor had a very specific mandate regarding county lines gangs, as their operations focussed on the suspects who could cause the highest harm. She clarified that this was assessed based on categories such as the likelihood they could cause child sexual exploitation and commit acts of sexual violence. She stated that the team focussed on individuals with significant roles in county lines operations, which often meant that investigations were complex and focussed on building cases to ensure the police could prove high culpability. She stated that the Operation Raptor team focussed on significant individuals as these had the highest impact on the county lines operation when they were removed. She confirmed that when the arrest of an individual was made, the Operation Raptor team usually had a case prepared to ensure the Crown Prosecution Service could try for the highest or most appropriate sentence.

DI Steele moved on and explained that the ‘Triple P Model’ utilised partnership working, both within the police force and wider communities. She explained that as county lines operators often used vulnerable young people to do their work, it made it harder to find the operators themselves. She added that the team also worked with the community to help with the vulnerabilities of young people, who could be arrested if found working for county lines, but would be signposted to the relevant support networks. She added that the team worked closely with the Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit (EVVU) to reduce vulnerabilities and programmes regarding this were ongoing within Thurrock. She added that the team also used injunctions as a preventative measure to steer young people away from danger, and she had found this to be effective due to the stringent measures put in place. She highlighted that seeking a gang injunction was a time-consuming process due to the level of case-building required, but it formed one of the tactics used by Operation Raptor.

Councillor Ralph asked how many successful prosecutions had occurred within Thurrock in the last 12 months. DI Steele replied that she would send these figures to the Committee after the meeting. Councillor Ralph queried which community groups the Operation Raptor team worked with. DI Steele  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers: Annual Update Report pdf icon PDF 175 KB

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Minutes:

The Service Manager – Children Looked After introduced the report and stated that Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) often arrived in the UK after long and dangerous journeys, and it was the job of the receiving local authority to assess their needs and provide them with appropriate care and accommodation. He explained that UASC were received through various means, such as in the backs of lorries in Thurrock’s services and in small boats in Kent. He stated that every local authority in the UK was set a quota for the numbers of UASC they were required to take and provide care for, and this quota was set against the child population. He explained that previously the quota had been 0.07% of the child population, but this had recently increased to 0.1%. He clarified that for Thurrock this was an increase from 31 UASC to 45 UASC, which increased the number of placements required; the caseload for social workers; and the caseload for the aftercare team, as many UASC were aged between 16-18 and were approaching adulthood.

The Service Manager – Children Looked After explained that due to Thurrock’s transport links, the borough often received more than its UASC quota and was able to move children to other local authority areas under the National Transfer Scheme. He explained that this was slowly changing, and Thurrock were becoming a ‘receiver authority’ due to the number of children arriving in Kent. He stated that UASC were often at risk of harm due to trafficking and exploitation as organised immigration gangs transported UASC to the UK for a fee and could then further exploit them once they had arrived. The Service Manager – Children Looked After explained that the team used their initial contact with UASC to build trust and a relationship with the professionals who were going to look after them. He stated that all UASC received a direct visit within 24 hours and were assessed for their levels of vulnerability. He stated that school-aged UASC were offered online education as soon as possible to ensure they were learning before they were enrolled in local schools, as this reduced the risk of them going missing. He added that the team had been successful as officers had run a training event for Ofsted, and the Thurrock model was now being taught as best practice by Ofsted inspectors.

The Service Manger – Children Looked After added that the team utilised multi-agency safeguarding practices to share information regularly with the police, border force, and relevant social workers, as this could help all agencies understand where UASC were coming from and how they could be best helped. The Service Manager – Children Looked After outlined the data within the report and highlighted that from April to November 2022, 14 new UASC children had arrived in Thurrock, which brought the total population up to 34 UASC. He explained that under the previous quota, the limit for UASC in Thurrock had been 31, and this had already been surpassed with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 55 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee agreed to add an update from the local community policing team or children’s safeguarding team to discuss knife crime in Thurrock.