Agenda and minutes

Housing, Community Safety and Community Engagement Scrutiny Commission - Thursday 14 December 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Ground Floor Meeting Room G02A - 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH. View directions

Contact: Amit Alva  Email:

No. Item



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    To receive any apologies for absence.


    Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Esme Hicks and Ina Negoita (Co-opted member)


    Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Ellie Cumbo and Councillor Victoria Mills.


    Councillor Ketzia Harper was present as a substitute for Cllr Esme Hicks.


Notification of any items of business which the chair deems urgent

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    In special circumstances, an item of business may be added to an agenda within five clear working days of the meeting.


    There were no items of business which the Chair deemed urgent.


Disclosure of interests and dispensations.

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    Members to declare any interests and dispensations in respect of any item of business to be considered at this meeting.


    There were no disclosure of interests and dispensations.




Draft Homelessness Strategy for Southwark

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    To receive the draft homelessness strategy for Southwark from Councillor Helen Dennis, Cabinet Member for New Homes and Sustainable Development, supported by officers. (Report to follow)

    Supporting documents:


    The commission had invited partner organisations listed below


    ·  Melu Mekonnen Senior Housing Liaison Officer/Housing Lead Guys

    And St. Thomas' Hospital Homeless Health Team


    ·  Eamonn Egerton Outreach team St. Mungo’s Southwark SPOT & SPOT Navigator Manager


    ·  Sally Causer: Director Southwark Law Centre: Chair Southwark Homeless Forum

    Sally then addressed the commission on the following points of discussion


    ·  Consultation of the draft homelessness strategy; financial pressures on the council

    ·  Homelessness forum having difficulties in accessing the homeless service at Bournemouth Road; 30% of callers getting through to the service that are the most vulnerable rough sleepers.

    ·  Need for Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) to be carried out before the decisions on the post-pandemic operation of the service

    ·  Need for partner agencies to have separate escalation process and telephone numbers to book appointments for the most vulnerable people

    ·  Security procedures of the strategy on page 61, asks vulnerable people to speak through the foyer, between two closed doors guarded by a security guard; not the best approach on dealing with cases such as domestic abuse.

    ·  Importance of the Southwark Law Centre in tackling the roots causes of homelessness, providing referrals to and from partner organisations such as Guys’ and St. Thomas’ Hospitals NHS and St. Mungo’s, Southwark SPOT and also providing specialist immigration advice.

    Melu then addressed the commission around the following themes


    ·  Guy’s and St. Thomas Hospitals had 458 referrals from September 2023 till November 2023, shared between Southwark Council and Lambeth with regards to homelessness, majority referred to Southwark Council;

    ·  Joint protocol with housing options team at Southwark Council not working successfully; lack of any contact, lack of timely response, lack of overall engagement and lack of a dedicated Hospital Discharge Housing Officer ( previously Lorene Hartley) since the pandemic.

    ·  Current situations with referrals involves emailing a large/random group of officers’ emails resulting in a loss of time and resources for the council.



    Eamonn then addressed the commission on the following topics of discussion


    ·  Average of 42 people, on a single night figure; most vulnerable and complex needs support are most important; winter strategy from council is strong which if applied throughout the year would help reduce homelessness on a greater scale.

    ·  Urgency needed and issues with lack of IT Infrastructure, same day assessments take 4 weeks, documentation and paperwork processes 20 years old (from personal experience)

    ·  Need for strengths based assessments to gauge opportunities for housing within councils processes; Accountability issues between departments of Southwark council, Housing people during winter period and eviction of rough sleepers from 4-5 January creating a bigger homelessness problem

    The commission then asked questions around the following points


    ·  Ex-offenders returning to Southwark;

    ·  Lack of detail in the draft homelessness strategy

    ·  Support needs for homeless people and associated factors such as drug and alcohol dependency between (2%-3%)


    Eamonn informed the commission, there are systems in place for ex-offenders to get help with accommodation, however, pressures on the housing market affects them equally as well. All such matters rely on good officers willing to help the vulnerable.


    Melu informed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Interview with Borough Police Commander for Southwark

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    To interview Chief Superintendent Adjei-Addoh on


    • All policing matters, initiatives and programmes
    • Changes or plans as a result of the Baroness Casey Review
    • Approach of the Local Police towards mental health issues/cases in the public.



    The commission then received a presentation (attached to minutes) from the Borough Command Unit (BCU) Commander Sebastian Adjei-Addoh and Acting Chief Inspector Aaron Barnes on the following points


    ·  London MET undergoing reform; Baroness Casey report highlighted key issues; Policing in community and feedback from residents

    ·  Increase in inspectors in neighbourhood policing, officers, sergeants and Inspectors; Modelling of PCSO’s in wards; stronger policing uplift wards

    ·  Structure of policing and Neighbourhood teams; Safer schools and Partnership function have Borough Command Units

    ·  Key challenges- robberies and theft snatches, Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) and drug dealing; Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG); Homicides and rape investigations pulling resources assigned to ASB.

    ·  Systemic issues within the National Policing Service (NPS) such as racism, misogyny and homophobia

    ·  Stop and search pilots through intelligence, respect and information; Trust and confidence improvement plan in the community

    The commission then asked questions on the following topics


    ·  Leadership on the usage of Tasers; lack of accountability due to restructuring and redundancy of Borough Commanders positions’; down from 32 to 12 BCU Commanders.

    ·  Rise in violent mugging on school children and young people, Trauma Support Unit to involve feedback from experiences of young people

    ·  Triage of mental health issues with regards to contacting emergency services

    ·  Baroness Casey review findings suggest if improvements are not achieved, it could possibly mean an inevitable breakdown of MET police into national and London Police units.

    BCU Commander Sebastian informed the commission that the MET now has process for mental health issues encountered in policing and self-harm cases. It has been agreed by the Police Commissioner that mental health cases are to be referred to partner agencies and not deal by the MET police, as it’s a huge drain on resources. MET is working with partner organisations to provide the right support and help. However, when there is a danger to life, police do intervene. Stop and Search process are also being reviewed. There are horrific case of people being stabbed for no reason and violent robberies. One hundred officers are based in Walworth focusing on violent crimes. MET police highly committed to tackling youth violence and crime.


    The commission learnt from BCU Commander Sebastian that the individual mental health cases can vary, requiring support from NHS and/or partner organisations and/or the police. On suicidal cases, it can vary from individuals having thoughts about suicide to individuals jumping off a bridge, the latter would need police intervention as it’s an immediate threat to life. On the possible breakdown of MET police into smaller London Units, there is a need for urgency for the new MET Police for London, if not, the Police Commissioner for London believes there could be radical changes.


    The commission the asked further questions on the following themes


    ·  Possibility of a Police Oversight Board for accountability; posters in the local areas showing local police contacts.

    ·  Operation Nightingale

    BCU Commander Sebastian informed the commission that the MET is accountable to Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) which conducts its own scrutiny, but we are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Proposed Work Programme 2023-2024