Following our Ending Gang and Youth Violence (EGYV) and information sharing workshop early in 2015, we have been working with the Margate Task Force to support its transformation and information sharing ambitions.

Margate is a coastal town in Thanet, Kent, and contains two of the most deprived wards in the South East of England. The two wards, Margate Central and Cliftonville West, along with adjoining areas of Thanet, experience a highly transient and diverse population with an annual residential turnover of close to thirty percent. As a result, people living in the areas can face multiple layers of risk and vulnerability.

The disadvantage the residents of these areas experience can include worklessness and living in old housing stock that has been converted into poor quality, multi-occupancy accommodation which is often privately owned, managed remotely and is subject to selective licensing. They also face challenging inequalities in health with life expectancy in the areas being significantly lower than elsewhere in both the district and the county.

Margate Task Force (MTF) is a multi-agency, co-located partnership which brings together representatives from police, fire and rescue, public health, county council trading standards and community wardens, social services, Jobcentre Plus, NHS, district council housing providers and environmental services, addiction services, community safety, probation, youth offending services, domestic abuse support services, community volunteers and troubled families and early intervention teams.

Co-located within Thanet District Council offices, Margate Task Force aims to integrate housing and environmental regeneration with wider multi-agency approaches to tackling socio-economic problems in the area. Information sharing between its partners is a crucial element to the effectiveness of this.

The task force is distinct from other multi-agency teams in that it delivers ‘front end’, fast-track, joint interventions at street level on a daily basis. However, by working across a number of agencies it also aims to transform the way public services are delivered to make them more responsive, visible and joined up – an ambition in which information sharing between its partners has a vital role to play. 

Margate Task Force and its partners are working to address a number of challenges through better integration of service delivery and an improved, shared understanding of risks, needs and pressures.

Key challenges related to the support provided by us include:

  • Improving links between the task force and local health practitioners and providers, in particular mental health.
  • Ensuring geographical risk factors, such as known locations of vulnerable people, gang activity and drug or alcohol provision, are taken into account by agencies placing young people and ex-offenders into the area.
  • Reducing the levels of missing young people, including those who are missing from the area as well as those who are found in the area from a home outside of Margate or Kent and who are often linked to urban gangs and county lines drug activity
  • Tackling the rise in the use of cuckooing tactics in which urban gangs prey on vulnerable young people and adults to enable local drug dealing activity.
  • Quantifying the impact of the task force model (early intervention, streamlined referrals, joint working etc.) on the wider public sector budget. 

As set out in the task force’s successful Transformation Challenge Award submission, MTF aims to transform local public service delivery through a focus on implementing shared commissioning and joint case management. This approach aims to:

  • Radically improve quick time information / data exchange and develop joint strategic assessment based on threat, harm and risk in an integrated services environment.
  • Improve proactive identification and needs assessment of vulnerable children, youth and young adults, and implement rapid referral to appropriate social care providers.
  • Develop community stewardship in micro-locations of most complex need, reducing long-term agency demand. 

We have been supporting Margate Task Force to develop stronger links with local mental health sector, initially through the delivery of a workshop that brought together partners of the task force with mental health practitioners.

This approach helped to identify common goals and cohorts, agree shared priorities and uncover opportunities to share information in order to improve the services and outcomes for service users. Overall awareness of the local challenges which agencies face was also highlighted through this workshop.

Another area of our work has focussed on capturing and sharing learning from existing information sharing practice already employed by the task force, particularly:

  • Margate Task Force’s community outreach and needs assessment focused Street Weeks;
  • Multi-agency Neighbourhood Responsibility Panels – a case conference style meeting set around the needs of an individual participant; this innovation will be applied in schools as family support panels generating much earlier joint assessment  and interventions;
  • Multi-agency risk screening for care and probation placements.

Over the coming months we hope to work with Margate Task Force to support its development of information sharing arrangements linked to coordinated risk assessments for young people, in particular those in or leaving care, the consideration of risk by placement agencies and the provision of support services for vulnerable young people.