An update on matters relating to the delivery of services within the portfolio of services delivered by the Chief Fire Officer, (Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service), and within the remit of the Gloucestershire County Council Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee, (Trading Standards, Civil Protection and Coroners Services).
The committee received a detailed overview of matters relating to the delivery of services within the portfolio of services covered by the Chief Fire Officer, (Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service), and within the remit of the Gloucestershire County Council Adult Social Care and Communities Scrutiny Committee, (Trading Standards, Civil Protection and Coroners Services).
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Key messages highlighted by the report included an update on the performance of the Trading Standards Team, where it was confirmed that: -
1) The Trading Standards budget remained on course. The previously predicted underspend on legal services, a direct consequence of suspended activity throughout the pandemic had been diverted to increase temporary staffing levels and overall operational capacity.
2) In addition to the work in delivering statutory functions in relation to food standards, a second officer had been engaged on a temporary basis to carry out inspection work in relation to product safety focussing on items sold through second hand and antique stores.
3) Inspection figures for high-risk food premises remained below quarterly targets.
4) The measurement of scam and doorstep crime victims expressing they felt able to withstand future attempts was lower than the target figure of 53% - a decline against previous quarters. Further analysis was ongoing to consider the number of referrals relating to active scam victims and the number of individuals already engaged and responding to mass mail scams.
5) The Trading Standards was at an early stage of engagement with Gloucestershire Police, Victim Support and other voluntary sector organisations with a view to establishing a multi-agency approach to victim support which will enhance capability of all agencies to support individuals.
Referring to some of the more irregular and out of hours tasks presented to Trading Standards, one member questioned whether it might be an option to review and extend the operational hours of the team to include evenings and this was noted.
Another member enquired if a visit by the Trading Standards Officer to the Forest of Dean might be arranged to assess the conditions of free roaming sheep in parts of the District. It was agreed a visit would be arranged later in the year. Action by – Jo Moore
Civil Protection Team (CPT)
Reporting on the performance of the CPT it was confirmed that the team continued to support the countywide response to Covid-19.
The CPT had agreed a 2 year project plan (in October 2020) to strengthen the business continuity framework across the organisation (GCC). Work was ongoing with all the service areas across the County Council to develop ‘fit for
purpose’ business continuity plans to support the continued delivery of critical service areas in the event of possible disruptions to services including, power outages, loss of fuel, loss of building, loss of IT, loss of staff.
It was explained that the principle objective for the Coroner Service Team in 2022 will be to assist the Senior Coroner address the backlog of cases resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic. Following an updated risk assessment completed in collaboration with AMPS colleagues, the Coroner Court was now fully open for the hearing of Coronial inquests and the service recently conducted their first jury inquest following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
The principle risk to the service remains the availability of pathologists to complete post mortem examinations. Timely examination of the deceased is an essential initial step in the Coronial investigation process and remains an issue at both local and national level.
Responding to questions, it was noted that legislation in relation to the frequency and use of fireworks was a complex issue and maybe not within the remit of the committee to scrutinise. It was suggested members might want to lobby local MP’s on the matter and for members of the Civil Protection and Trading Standard Teams to be invited to committee meetings in May and July to give a more detailed insight into some of their work. Action by – Chief Fire Officer.
The report was noted.