Issue - meetings
Review of formal enforcement action and enforcement policy
Meeting: 23/11/2021 - Decision Session - Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning (Item 26)
The purpose of this report is to enable the Executive Members to review the formal enforcement action undertaken in 2020-21 by:-
· Public Protection (Environmental Health, Trading Standards and Licensing)
· Housing Services
· Community Safety
· National Trading Standards Regional Investigation and National Trading Standards eCrime teams
i. That the contents of the report and action taken be noted, and that officers are asked to undertake a full review of the Council’s enforcement policy in the coming year.
ii. That the additional workload in some areas compared to previous years be noted.
iii. That officers be thanked for the work that they have done during a difficult time during the pandemic and lockdowns where guidance was rapidly changing, whilst implementing enforcement and giving advice to businesses and residents.
iv. That the public and all councillors be consulted on policies to update the Council’s enforcement policy and reporting back of steps taken to enforce as well as promoting activities which will encourage positive behaviour and reduce harm before enforcement is required.
v. That work be undertaken with North Yorkshire Police and Safer York Partnership to develop a holistic approach, involving the Communities Team, and Ward Teams, Business Improvement District, Retail Forum, traders’ associations, landlord associations, parish councils and town council, residents associations, schools and other bodies to ensure a city wide approach to show the collective work of statutory officers and partners to tackle enforcement issues, with clear performance reporting showing the distinct work of the Council’s enforcement teams.
vi. That a communications plan be developed which reminds residents of the work that is done by the team, and how to contact them to request help, or provide information which can assist with enforcement.
vii. That a report on the outcome of mobile CCTV camera use to tackle fly tipping be brought to a future decision session.
viii. That an investigation of enforcement issues on construction sites be undertaken.
Reason: To ensure enforcement activity undertaken in 2020-21 has been reviewed in accordance with the Council’s enforcement policy and approve a review of the policy, with appropriate consultation with the public and businesses, in 2022.
The Executive Members considered a report which enabled them to review the formal enforcement action undertaken in 2020-21 by:-
· Public Protection (Environmental Health, Trading
· Standards and Licensing)
· Housing Services
· Community Safety
· National Trading Standards Regional Investigation and
· National Trading Standards eCrime teams
The Head of Public Protection, Head of Community Safety and Housing Standards and Adaptions Manager were in attendance to present the report and respond to questions.
Key points raised during the presentation of the report included:
· Actions such as prosecutions in 2020-21 had been more limited because officers were deployed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
· Crown Prosecution Service guidance had advised that alternatives to proceeding with prosecution be taken wherever possible due to pressure of Covid.
· The report asked the Executive Members to approve a consultation with the public and businesses to examine enforcement policies, determining which areas need prioritising and how measures introduced during the pandemic, such as Covid Marshals, can be utilised in the future.
In relation to Community Safety enforcement, officers noted:
· The Neighbourhood Enforcement Team covered three geographic areas and tackled environmental crime, low-level anti-social behaviour, domestic noise nuisance, fly tipping, dog fouling, nuisance begging, selling or busking and street urination.
· The Domestic Noise Patrol Service ran between 9pm and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights.
· Enforcement was seen as the last approach, with behaviour change sought first by the team.
· Staff illness and absences due to the Covid-19 pandemic had stretched resources and there had also been an unprecedented number of calls regarding noise nuisance.
In relation to the Housing Standards and Adaptations Service, it was noted:
· Housing had been especially relevant in recent years during the pandemic, as they had become places of work and refuge, as well as homes.
· Activities performed by the team included Licensing Scheme for Houses with Multiple Occupation and complaints from tenants, which had to be responded to differently during the pandemic.
· A number of successful funding bids were made to Government, including funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy of £100,000 for pilot work on minimum energy efficiency standards and the (then) Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government of £162,000 to enable 128 enforcement officers to be trained across the region.
Comments from Executive Members and responses from officers included:
· As part of the policy review, it was suggested to compare the number of enforcement actions taken against the number of complaints received in order to measure the success rate of efforts to present the need for enforcement.
- Officers stated that this could be achieved and was already being done in some areas e.g. idling.
· In order for enforcement action to be taken against people littering or allowing dog-fouling, officers had to physically see the act taking place, which made enforcement difficult. Officers encouraged people in the community to inform Community Safety with any information that may help to prevent these.
· Planning enforcement issues on construction sites often overlapped with public protection concerns, and it was suggested that the review ... view the full minutes text for item 26