Agenda and draft minutes

Hidden and Extreme Harms Prevention Committee - Tuesday, 4th October, 2022 7.00 pm

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

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

Media

Items
No. Item

7.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Hidden and Extreme Harms Prevention Committee held on 23 June 2022.

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Minutes:

The minutes of the Hidden and Extreme Harms Prevention Committee meeting held on 23 June 2022 were approved as a true and correct record.

8.

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.

9.

Declarations of Interest

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Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

10.

Essex Police: Operation Bluebird Verbal Update pdf icon PDF 832 KB

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Minutes:

Detective Inspector (DI) Chris Rose introduced himself and gave a presentation regarding the work of Essex Police on Operation Bluebird.

The Chair thanked DI Rose for attending the meeting and giving a presentation. He also thanked Essex Police for their hard work on Operation Melrose, when 39 people were sadly found dead in a lorry. He asked if the Organised Immigration Crime (OIC) team had uncovered any firearms in Thurrock during their operations. DI Rose replied that firearms had not been found in Thurrock by the OIC team. He explained that organised immigration crime gangs usually traded in commodities such as people, money, and drugs. He stated that the team were using a holistic approach to tackle organised immigration crime gangs who were people smuggling. The Chair asked why people were trafficked into the UK. DI Rose explained that many people left their home countries due to political unrest or out of fear for their safety, for example the number of people being trafficked from Afghanistan had increased over the past year due to political unrest. He added that it was often a dangerous and expensive journey for people to make, but it was hard to identify all the push and pull factors that led to people coming to the UK.

The Chair queried why the numbers of people being trafficked into the UK increased during the winter months, and if the OIC team were working to decrease these numbers. DI Rose explained that operations were currently in place to mitigate this issue, but there were lots of human trafficking gangs, as it could be a lucrative business. He explained that many human traffickers facilitated crossings by boat across the English Channel, but the numbers of people crossing over land, for example in lorries, increased during the winter months because of the weather conditions.

Councillor Ralph questioned how many individuals had been prosecuted for people smuggling and human trafficking. DI Rose stated that Essex and UK police forces worked closely with EU forces to share intelligence, as many human trafficking gangs operated both in the UK and EU. He explained that this intelligence sharing led to more prosecutions. He added that the Modern-Day Slavery (MDS) team within Essex Police had also started Joint Investigation Teams with law enforcement agencies in other counties and countries, which ensured that MDS investigations could take place across counties and internationally. The Chair queried if Essex Police had had an issue with human organs being smuggled into the area. DI Rose commented that human organ smuggling formed part of MDS, and although had not been seen in Essex, had been seen in other parts of the world. 

11.

SERICC Data Comparison: Presentation pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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The SERICC Director introduced the presentation and explained that following the last Hidden and Extreme Harms Prevention Committee meeting that SERICC had attended, they had organised a male sexual violence awareness course with Thurrock officers to highlight the risk of sexual violence against men and boys, as this had been a suggestion by the Committee. She added that many people during this training had assumed that sexual violence was linked with domestic violence, and the training session had helped to dispel this assumption. She added that the Home Office were also writing a Violence Against Men and Boys Strategy, although there was some way to go before this could be shared. She summarised and stated that violence against women and girls was more prevalent than against men and boys, which was why the focus of the report was on violence against women and girls.

The SERICC Services Delivery Manager explained that the data presented to the Committee compared figures from between March 2020-21 and March 2021-22. She explained that figures for March 2021-22 had remained relatively static compared to the previous year, with a small increase in the number of people reporting aged between 18-24 years old and 13-17 years old, which was partly due to the end of lockdown restrictions. She added that SERICC had seen 587 incidents reported by 527 users, and these could be recent incidents or from a long time ago. She added that SERICC provided all survivors with counselling sessions, advisers, and helped victims report to the police if they chose. The SERICC Services Delivery Manager explained that in 2021/22 346 females had reported incidents to the police, which meant that the number of people not reporting had increased since 2020/21. She explained that SERICC was the only service in the UK which provided a direct referral pathway, which meant that incidents could be reported directly.

The Chair thanked SERICC for their presentation and asked if they had encountered any grooming gangs commuting from London to operate in Essex. The SERICC Services Delivery Manager explained that their data showed that no grooming gangs had been reported in Thurrock. The SERICC Director added that if a perpetrator assaulted a victim more than once, then this could be classed as grooming under the Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy. The Chair asked why data on female genital mutilation (FGM) did not specify the ethnicity of the perpetrators. The SERICC Director explained that this demographic information was provided by the government rather than SERICC, but could be shared with the Committee.   

The Chair highlighted the work on Operation Hydrant that was being undertaken by the National Police Chiefs Council regarding historic abuse. He stated that their figures showed 12,000 total victims, 8,000 of whom were boys and 4,000 of whom were girls. He stated that the perpetrators listed in Operation Hydrant were often TV personalities, sports stars, politicians, or music industry professionals. He felt that the work of Operation Hydrant should be more publicised due to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking Update Report pdf icon PDF 157 KB

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The Strategic Lead Social Work Support introduced the report and stated that it had last been presented to the Committee in 2021. She explained that the Committee had requested a standalone Modern Day Slavery statement, rather than being included in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy, and both the Adult Social Care and Children’s Social Care had worked together to build the strategy.

The Strategic Lead Social Work explained that since the last meeting, the team had worked to develop the Modern-Day Slavery statement, and had completed the following achievements:

1. Information on how to spot the signs of MDS had been shared on Thurrock’s social media pages.
2. A training session on the MDS Pathway for Thurrock’s first responders had been arranged for the end of October.
3. A list of resources on MDS and human trafficking had been uploaded to the Council’s website.
4. A pop-up event would be held in Grays High Street to publicise the anti-slavery campaign.
5. A partnership event on MDS was being arranged for early 2023 to discuss how to tackle MDS, increase awareness, and how to successfully share information with colleagues and frontline staff.
6. A regular training programme had been developed in partnership with Justice and Care, and Essex Police, and had been delivered to 64 people including staff members in Adult Social Care, Community Safety and Children’s Social Care.
7. A guide on MDS had been developed with Southend City Council and Essex County Council.
8. The team were working with small businesses to tackle MDS and highlight the signs.

The Strategic Lead Social Work asked if Members had any suggestions on how to promote MDS and human trafficking. The Chair highlighted point 2.10 of the report and asked how this scheme would be delivered to businesses. The Thurrock Community Safety Partnership Manager explained that the charity Stop the Traffic had designed a toolkit and guide on how to spot MDS and human trafficking, and this had been delivered to businesses through the Business Buzz. She explained that some businesses had already signed up to the MDS Statement, but this was not currently a statutory duty. She added that the team were working with the communications team to encourage businesses to write their own MDS pledge, or sign-up to the Council’s MDS pledge, which they could put in their window. She felt that this could encourage consumers to choose businesses who were committed to stopping MDS and human trafficking. The Chair sought clarification on training outlined in 3.1.1 of the report, and asked if this was targeted specifically at council officers. The Strategic Lead Social Work explained that the training was offered to council officers, the voluntary sector, and frontline staff.

Councillor Ralph felt it was good to see the MDS Strategy was now standalone and not included in the VAWG Strategy. He asked how residents and members of the public could get involved. He also felt concerned that the ‘It Could be Your Daughter’ picture, only focussed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 55 KB

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The Committee asked if an update on anti-terrorism could be added to the agenda.