Claire Hardy, Senior Practitioner (Crime & ASB), City Wide Operations, Public Protection & Licensing Directorate, Westminster City Council
Westminster City Council began using E-CINS in 2014 predominantly as an ASB Case Management System. Initially utilised by three case workers to manage problematic people and premises, the council recognised that it needed to improve the way it was tracking prolific offenders, including transient street population and make E-CINS part of the process.
Claire Hardy was at the forefront of improving Westminster’s workflow process for ASB. Claire said ‘We were using a myriad of spreadsheets to manage prolific offenders. We were having to cross reference and analyse all of the information and it was just so disjointed.
‘We had set up geographical-based partnership meetings to focus on ASB with police colleagues, business improvement districts and associated agencies to tackle localised ASB hotspots, but there was an inability for partners to share any data other than using email. This meant that cases and personal information was being saved on different people’s desktops or in email inboxes.
‘We couldn’t see the full picture or receive live updates and there were concerns around data security. The good thing was that we had carried out all the groundwork and had all the partners in place; we had structures with regards to meetings and forums but there was no shared space to operate other than face to face meetings.
‘With austerity measures came dramatic financial cuts and resourcing issues across the ASB partnership, leading to delays in the Partnership’s ability to address key problems which in turn increased the negative impact of ASB on victims.’
Improving processes and remote working
In September 2018, the Public Protection and Licensing Directorate was reformed, changing focus from a thematic disciplined approach of working in silos to an effective neighbourhood working model (ENW). This new ethos meant that rather than 20 different disciplines visiting one victim independently, they could send in one officer, trained in multi disciplines and who could take away all of the information from the case and disseminate this to others.
These multi-discipline officers have the knowledge and awareness of how other agencies can help with resolving issues and so are best placed to know where to signpost or refer cases and who to escalate them to in the case of high risk or priority cases.
Claire’s role has included the implementation of the ENW model in ASB, harnessing the wider ASB partnership within Westminster to all work together to have common outcomes. The Borough still holds Case Conferences, but by utilising E-CINS they can ensure that updates are carried out around the clock, not just when police are working day shifts. This relieves the stress and pressure on officers not receiving updates and responses and means they can track individual officer’s management performance and address blockages such as emails going dead with no responses.
“By utilising E-CINS [the Borough] can ensure that updates are carried out around the clock, not just when police are working day shifts.”
Claire said ‘As E-CINS is accessible remotely officers can upload information on their i-pads when out on the street so they are actively addressing live operations. As they already have the information about the cases they are working on in front of them they can easily update cases giving everyone real-time information.’
Encrypted referral and triage process
The council’s new way of working has led to them being able to dispense with spreadsheets and Claire trains officers to not just use E-CINS for ASB Case Management but to also use it as an intelligence gathering tool. Claire said, ‘We have controlled the process by getting everyone to send in all of their referrals via Empowering-Communities’ Encrypted Referral Form and Triage Management Platform, EC-Connect. This has enabled us to open up the reporting and referrals to a wider partnership that includes Councillors who can refer information in from their constituents.’
“We have controlled the process by getting everyone to send in all of their referrals via EC-Connect. This has enabled us to open up the reporting and referrals to a wider partnership that includes Councillors who can refer information in from their constituents.”
ASB Case workers triage all referrals in accordance with identified criteria to either the Police, Neighbourhood Coordination Meeting or ASB Case Management Meeting ensuring the correct teams are involved, timely notification of partners and a standardised response across the Borough.
Claire said ‘By creating a referral management desk which we use together with E-CINS, we are gathering intelligence and managing cases around local problem-solving, rough sleepers, problem locations and police / council / housing intelligence.’
‘EC-Connect is being used to measure baselines for cases coming in, ensuring that cases are triaged correctly and that intelligence is actually recognised as intelligence and acted on in an appropriate manner.
‘The information we collect includes victims, noise pollution and persons fearing for their safety and the process for reporting these issues is simplified as an ASB officer only needs to put in one referral and the case will be referred through to the most appropriate service such as Victim Support. Police can then lift this intelligence and upload it straight to the Police National Computer.’
Engaging partners and standardising processes
Westminster City Council is standardising its processes with regards to how to use E-CINS by utilising its e-Learning capacity. All users, internal and external agencies and anyone who is operational knows how to contact anyone they need to and understand how to message or task them through the E-CINS platform ensuring everything is managed securely within the system. Claire was instrumental in engaging with and signing up partners: ‘We have many partners within Westminster City Council who we have built up good relationships with over time. At the start we identified everyone we would ever want to work with, from Criminal Justice to Registered Social Landlords, Home Office, Immigration, Enforcement, Police and others.
‘We set up a series of face-to-face half-day ASB Workshops to get everyone together to float the idea of bringing them on board and engage them in the idea of making this a new way of working that would benefit everyone. We had 63 representatives in attendance from 74 different internal and external agencies, teams and disciplines and we focused the sessions on six different areas of business – mental health, problem solving, street population, legislation, youth and residential.
‘We mixed up the different teams around the table and discussed as a collective how best we could work together and how the model would work using E-CINS as the basis of the process. The workshops led to us getting agreements with partners and we identified ASB SPOCS and SPOCS from Mental Health and Probation, Youth Offending Team, Children’s Services and the full teams of the NPT, Gangs Unit, Integrated Street Unit and Schools’ Police Officers.’
Working with Schools
Claire has worked together with the Schools’ Police Officers to greatly improve the communication with and intelligence around Westminster’s Primary, Secondary and College Schools. A Senior Schools Officer has uploaded images of all of the individual school uniforms on to E-CINS so that all partners can view and identify the uniforms and which school they relate to. This is particularly useful to the Safeguarding Teams.
Westminster has a dedicated Schools Team who are currently working with individual schools to create schools cases that would allow Safeguarding alerts from the Schools Officers to be sent to schools via E-CINS. This will help to build up intelligence about individual children and provide specialist support in cases such as children who are siblings of gang members. The Schools cases would be linked to profiles that will create automatic alerts to the wider multi-disciplinary network in case of safeguarding issues.
“A Senior Schools Officer has uploaded images of all of the individual school uniforms on to E-CINS so that all partners can view and identify the uniforms and which school they relate to. ”
Strategic Operational Deployment
Westminster City Council is making extensive use of E-CINS’ in-built mapping functionality which is helping them better understand problem areas from a multi-discipline perspective and enabling them to concentrate resources, saving time and money. Claire said ‘E-CINS is providing us with the intelligence that has always been missing, and now we are using the reports and the geotagging to map we are able to improve our strategic operational deployment too.
‘The mapping functionality effectively enables us to deploy our resources to where the intelligence is pointing us. Previously we would have had to wait around three months for that level of data as we would have needed to request it from a range of departments such as planning, licensing, environmental health etc, who all carry separate data on separate databases. E-CINS brings all of the multi-discipline intelligence into one place giving us an overarching report of all cases being managed and all profiles and premises related to it throughout the life of the case.
“The mapping functionality effectively enables us to deploy our resources to where the intelligence is pointing us. Previously we would have had to wait around three months for that level of data”
‘Community Protection Notices (CPNs) are a tool we use to address ASB from street population to Pedicabs and more. The E-CINS mapping functionality is helping us manage CPNs by enabling us to create a polygon shape of the footprint where a case is live. When an Officer serves a CPN, it is uploaded to an E-CINS report. The officer can record the location of where the notice was served, by pinpointing the area on the map; upload the paper statement of service, upload a scan of the notice and any supporting photos, add all of the information to the report and attach it to the individual’s profile. When that case is viewed it will show the footprint polygon on a geographical map of every single point of every notice that has ever been served there, providing a cluster hotspot. This shows us exactly where problems are and saves police time and resources by enabling them to target ASB hotspots more strategically, focusing on priority areas.’
Westminster City Council worked with British Transport Police to apply the WCC bespoke CPN process for street population ASB issues around Leicester Square Tube station, that has led to a reduction of 29% in community complaints to BTP from February to date and the site remaining clear of all street population ASB since June 2019. BTP has now rolled out the Westminster City Council CPN methodology to all other stations within the Borough and have successfully applied the process to addressing street population issues in Manchester too. BTP is utilising the partnership E-CINS platform for this with their partners (See page 11)
The next stages for E-CINS within Westminster include training Environmental Health Officers and City Inspectors, embedding E-CINS into the Effective Neighbourhood Working teams, adapting ASB legislation to address multi-disciplinary non-compliance of business premises that Officers can case manage within the E-CINS forum rather than doing independent entries on databases. The step after that is to bring in Licensing Police Officers to tackle more prolific offenders such as night-time economy in Leicester Square and Soho and they will also be looking to manage non-compliant multi-agency partnership work on E-CINS.
Summarising what E-CINS has helped Westminster to achieve, Claire said “Now we have dedicated teams using E-CINS and they are aligned properly, the benefits of the system to us are twofold, one – everyone can see a live update of the case they are involved in rather than waiting for a case conference or the task being forgotten about in someone’s inbox and secondly, we are now able to start running reports identifying our own ASB baselines and datasets, and trawl our own intelligence which is as valuable as what is held on the police national database.
‘When training people I make a point of helping them to understand how easy E-CINS it is to use and how to learn from and share best practice. I encourage the officers to take an active part in developing the site and E-CINS methodology to make it as easy as possible for the Westminster ASB Partnership to collaborate. I literally see their eyes ‘ping’ and say oh my goodness, it can do that!’
“E-CINS is providing us with the intelligence that has always been missing, and now we are using the reports and the geotagging to map we are able to improve our strategic operational deployment too.”