- Meeting of Transport, Environment and Communities Select Committee, Tuesday 13th March 2018 10.00 am (Item 6.)
Members will examine how the Prevent Duty is being met in Buckinghamshire. Members will review the approach taken by Buckinghamshire County Council and how it works with Partners to meet its obligations under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
Mr Noel Brown, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement.
Ms Angie Sarchet, Communities Manager.
Ms Joy Shakespeare, Head of Early Help.
Ms Yvette Thomas, Head of Equalities.
The Chairman welcomed the following contributors to the meeting to present the report:
· Mr N Brown, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement.
· Ms A Sarchet, Communities Manager.
· Ms J Shakespeare, Head of Early Help and Channel Panel Chair.
· Ms Yvette Thomas, Head of Equalities.
The Cabinet Member introduced the item highlighting the following points:
· The Council had a legal duty under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
· The Buckinghamshire Channel Panel was recognised as good practice by the Home Office.
· The Council received £5800 grant funding for introducing the duty but no further funding.
· The Safer Stronger Bucks Partnership Board had responsibility for overseeing the partnership Prevent Strategy and Action Plan and monitored progress every six months. The work under the strategy was divided between the partnerships.
Angie Sarchet, Joy Shakespeare and Yvette Thomas gave a presentation to the Committee Members were presented with the following information – (The full presentation can be viewed online and on the webcast):
· The definitions of terrorism and extremism.
· The 4 strands of the Government’s Prevent agenda.
· The aim of Prevent to prevent vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism.
· Government strategies
· The Prevent Duty and the requirements of the Council.
· The Buckinghamshire approach to the Prevent duty and governance arrangements.
The current strategy was agreed by the Safer Stronger Bucks Partnership Board in 2016 and would need to be refreshed by December 2018. This strategy brought together the Prevent duty and the Counter Terrorism strategy.
· There were two action plans; a partnership one and a Council one of the organisation and its own duty.
· Information on Prevent was available on the intranet for staff.
· School training and engagement – 90% of schools received WRAP training and work was being undertaken with the remaining 10% of schools to identify any training they may have undertaken and to fill in any gaps to ensure 100% of schools were trained.
· Designated safeguarding leads in every school had received WRAP training.
· Home office had given funding to set up the Linked Project again; this was a really successful project which aimed to link schools across the county with different demographics and backgrounds. There were currently 26 linked schools. This project was seen as best practice by the Home Office.
· Erasmus Project – a three year project to develop new teaching resources for schools – areas in Wycombe were doing this.
· The Education Safeguarding Advisory Service – which audits schools to ensure safeguarding policies are appropriate.
· The Channel Panel referral process: The statutory multi-agency panel that deals with people referred as at risk of radicalisation; what they do, referrals in Buckinghamshire, related vulnerabilities.
· Dovetail, the government project to review how Channel operates and handing over responsibility to Local Authorities by the end of the year. Members heard that it was currently unclear what this would mean locally.
Members heard about areas for improvement which included the following:
· A need for a more focussed training strategy.
· A need to enhance community engagement to remove the stigma around Prevent and to move towards treating it like any other community safety matter. Members heard that Wycombe recently held a successful round table event, and officers planned to hold more events like this across the county, which would cover a range of community safety issues including but not exclusively about Prevent.
· The Safer Stronger Bucks Strategy needed to be refreshed. There would be a consultation between July and September.
· A need for more systemised information sharing processes for the risk assessment process.
· Enhancing the role of elected members within their community leader roles.
Member raised the following areas through their questions and discussion:
· The importance of the role of Elected Members to promote Community Engagement. This included the need for suitable training for members and information on how they could be involved. Members heard that they had a crucial role in promoting community cohesion and working with local communities in their community leader roles. They were told that this was an area to be improved going forward, and that an all Member briefing was set for April and the next conference was being planned for November.
· The steps that could be taken to empower communities and elected members to deliver important messages and spot the signs of vulnerable people and radicalisation. Members were told it was about dispelling myths and challenging stereotypes. Members need to be given the information to be confident to do this and to identify and refer vulnerable people.
· Members asked whether the Prevent Duty and the future responsibilities (potential impacts) were on the Corporate Risk Register. They were told that it has been discussed at the Corporate Management Team and Chief Executive level, but that it was still unknown at this stage what the impact will be on the local authority. Members heard that Bucks was well placed for future developments as strong partnership arrangements already existed..
· Members questioned if the level of resource was limiting effectiveness in this area. Members heard that the resource requirement had increased because the risk had changed and was continuously changing. Members thought it was clear that lots of valuable work had taken place with limited resources and that the resource was valuable and necessary.
· How online radicalisation was handled. Members were told that the council has a spreadsheet of all the schools and who provides their internet security and were looking at where any gaps were. The e-safety subgroup of the Children’s Safeguarding Board own this. Members also heard that e- learning conferences and workshops were being held with primary and secondary schools, and children attending would become e-safety champions within their schools.
· The links with other duties such as those under the Modern Slavery Act. Members suggested that issues like these need to be combined across the organisation to ensure that they feature on the risk register, and the relevant support, information and training should be available for staff.
Members made the following recommendations:
1. That the committee should receive an annual update on Prevent and the progress towards the action plans.
2. That an annual progress update on Prevent should go to Cabinet to ensure member and strategic oversight.
Members thanked the contributors for their informative update and were reassured by the positive work that had taken place and welcomed the opportunity to build their knowledge on what they agreed was a very important area for elected Members.