Worcester City Council is working with partner agencies who support rough sleepers to implement recommendations made in an independent review into the death of a rough sleeper in the city. 

The independent review into the death of 74-year-old rough sleeper Cardon Banfield, who died in 2016, was published in May last year and made 10 recommendations for improvements to rough sleeper services in the city. A progress report on those recommendations will be considered by the Council’s Communities Committee on January 30. 

The report sets out how the City Council has worked with the agencies who were involved in the review – St Paul’s Hostel, Maggs Day Centre and the YMCA – and other partners to put the recommendations into practice. 

Councillor James Stanley, Chair of the Communities Committee, said: “No one can fail to be moved by the tragic death of Mr Banfield and it is a matter of the deepest sadness that we have seen the deaths of other rough sleepers in Worcestershire in recent months. 

“Worcester City Council commissioned the independent review into Mr Banfield’s death to establish if there were lessons that could be learnt. The review identified a range of areas where improvements could be made by all the partner agencies who work to support rough sleepers in the city. 

“The City Council and its partners have made good progress on putting those recommendations into practice. We have not met all the timescales proposed in the review, because it’s more important to get this right than it is to stick to a rigid timeframe.  

“The changes that we and our partners are making will be long lasting and bring a genuine benefit to rough sleepers in the city. 

“Anyone who spots a rough sleeper on Worcester’s streets can report them via the Streetlink service on 0300 500 0914. You can also download a Streetlink app for your smartphone.” 

One of the main developments in Worcester has been the launch of a new outreach service to help rough sleepers. Operated by Maggs Day Centre, the Maggs Outreach And Transition Service (MOATS) was launched thanks to a £280,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The successful funding bid was prepared with input from the City Council. 

Other changes have included the introduction of regular early morning street walks to identify spots where people are sleeping rough and fortnightly local intelligence meetings. The latter bring together officers from all the partner agencies and the police to discuss individual rough sleepers and develop action plans to help and support them. 

This winter has seen two Rapid Response Officers (RROs) working in the city to engage with entrenched rough sleepers, providing them with support and pointing them to services that can help them to come off the streets. The RROs work outside of core hours to enable faster responses to referrals from Streetlink during the coldest months of the year. The City Council successfully bid for Government funding to employ the RROs. 

The report to the Communities Committee gives an update on the implementation of each of the recommendations made in the independent review. 

1. Audit of skills and knowledge for frontline staff. Target date: June 2019. Progress: Work on this is on target. A training audit questionnaire has been sent to all partner agencies and responses are due to be received by the end of January. A city-wide training schedule will then be put in place. 

2. Development and implementation of a protocol for working with individuals who are transient, including an ‘alert’ system. Target date: November 2018. Progress: Work on this is completed but remains under review. All agencies within Worcestershire are now using the national Housing Jigsaw Alert system. Sharing information between different counties is more challenging, as each rough sleeper has to give consent for their information to be shared. The City Council will be consulting West Midlands Safeguarding Adults Board and London councils to establish best practice on this issue. 

3. Identify a system that the public can use to report rough sleepers. Target date: November 2018. Progress: Work on this is completed. The national 24/7 Streetlink service on 0300 500 0914 (also available as a smartphone app) is being used and promoted to the public. 

4. Launch of a targeted publicity campaign. Target date: November 2018. Progress: This objective was achieved within the timescale and work is continuing. The City Council regularly promotes the Streetlink service to residents and has made information available on its website. The Council is a partner in the Worcester Cares campaign, which also promotes Streetlink and raises awareness of rough sleeping. 

5. Introduction of regular welfare checks on rough sleepers across the city. Target date: August 2018. Progress: Work is completed. Regular welfare checks were introduced in May 2018 by the Maggs Outreach And Transition Service (MOATS) operated by Maggs Day Centre. Fortnightly local intelligence meetings are also held with all agencies involved with rough sleepers, to share information and develop support plans. 

6. Develop service transition guidelines developed to inform future decommissioning and commissioning. Target date: November 2018. Progress: In progress, not completed yet. The contract for the City Council’s Single Persons and Childless Couples Prevention Service (currently provided by CCP) will be re-tendered later this year. This forms part of the Council’s current budget-setting process, and these guidelines are being developed as part of that process. 

7. Undertake an audit of a sample of rough sleepers case files across the county to analyse record keeping. Target date: February 2019. Progress: Started, but unlikely to be completed on target. An exercise had already been undertaken in December 2017, however a further programme of work has been undertaken to analyse data and review the customer journey for rough sleepers. Completion of this has been delayed, but the issue is set to be picked up the multi-agency task and finish group (see 10 below) at their next meeting.

8. Worcester City Council commit to launching any further reviews as soon as possible following the death of an individual. Target date: immediately. Progress: Complete. The City Council is committed to undertaking such reviews in a timely fashion in the interests of openness and transparency, and also to identify whether there is any learning for the Council or its partners to prevent such situations recurring. 

9. Development of a procedural document outlining the processes that will be followed in the undertaking of a rough sleeper death review, to be agreed with partner agencies. Target date: August 2018. Progress: Completed, but due to be reviewed. The national Homeless Link guidance will be used for any reviews that are required. The City Council and its partner agencies will review this guidance to establish if it is robust and provides a suitable basis for reviews, or whether a bespoke process should be developed.  

10. Set up a multi-agency task and finish group to translate the above recommendations into an achievable action plan that is reviewed regularly. Target date: August 2018. Progress: The agencies were already meeting regularly and monitoring progress on the implementation of the report recommendations. The group held its first formal meeting in October and includes all the agencies that were involved in the review as well as Worcestershire County Council and CCP, the City Council’s Single Persons and Childless Couples Prevention Service provider. The group will meet on a quarterly basis until all the recommendations have been implemented. 

Read the report to the Communities Committee.