Agenda item - Field Officer Service : Progress Report

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Agenda item

Field Officer Service : Progress Report

A report of the Executive Director of Neighbourhoods, Communities and

Housing (copy attached)


RESOLVED: To note the recommendation of the Report as follows:


To note the work and progress of the new Field Officer Team during the first six months of operation, and request that future reports include detail on the options for an awareness raising campaign for residents.




9.1       Annie Sparks – Regulatory Services Manager presented a brief summary of the report and outlined the business case that was initiated on 22nd January 2019.  She confirmed that it had been agreed that there would then be a further update within the first 6 months. She highlighted the new agreed hours of 12 noon – 8pm for the service.


9.2       Councillor Ebel asked about the timeline to increase the service to 7 days per week and also asked about the volunteer-led beach patrol.


9.3       The Regulatory Services Manager replied that there was a planned launch over the next few weeks that was going ahead in conjunction with the Communications team.  She confirmed that councillors would be notified about this.  This would also link in with Pride weekend.  She confirmed that they could talk about the future of the volunteers service and an effective communication exchange on these matters going forward.  At the moment the service is being run during the day, but the evening could also be targeted.


9.4       Councillor Bagaeen commented on the importance of the planning enforcement work carried out by this service, so that the joined-up delivery service was fantastic.  He queried the one council approach on this, since other councils like Bristol focussed on homelessness.


9.5       The Regulatory Services Manager replied that in terms of one council, they regularly reviewed the services that Field Officers – FOs are delivering on behalf of other substantive services and that they needed to use their resources more effectively.  She confirmed that there was an understanding of the trends and issues that are being dealt with by different teams and that they could bring enforcement powers and join these different elements up.  She stated that they had talked about the term “silo’d working” to ensure that areas are joined up and delivering what communities really need,


9.6       Councillor Bagaeen asked if there was a culture of “silo’d working”?


9.7       The Regulatory Services Manager replied that there was and that the team was getting better at working across all services and confirmed that they were one of the first teams to use tablets in the field in order to share information including sharing with the police, fire and other partner agencies.


9.8       The Executive Director – Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing stated that silo’d working is about working with people and that the FOs aim was to find a solution for a problem within the correct department.  She highlighted the fact that at the PR&G Committee in May, the Customer experience strategy for FOs was explained and that one of the best things that the team did was to take responsibility for dealing with each case and that new technology had been required for this.  The team aimed to give the resident an answer that made sense to their problems.  The Chair added that this was a lot for a new councillor to take on.


9.9       Councillor Clare asked if the LAT – Local Action Team in her ward of Brunswick Adelaide could have a meeting with the Field Officer team in order to have a face to face contact with a designated officer.


9.10      The Regulatory Services Manager replied that they were looking into LATs and understanding the needs of different action teams. She confirmed that it was important to bring things together and that they had already had meetings regarding the Brunswick festival and that officers would be there to respond.


9.11      Councillor Powell thanked the FO team citing paragraph 3.6 of the report and she asked about the challenges every day and was keen to know how the team could be supported on this.


9.12      The Regulatory Services Manager replied that they were very pleased with the skillset across the team that included planning enforcement and regulatory services and how much patience the FOs had in dealing with matters. She confirmed that they were not receiving repeat complaints and that the team were prepared to go out at different times including evenings in pairs so that they could learn from each other, at present.  She also confirmed that they were meeting the policing team in order to network and understand their work.  She confirmed that external trainers were brought in sometimes and that FOs also learned by shadowing each other.


9.13      Councillor Moonan asked the officer to give a flavour of the real satisfaction of the FO job.


9.14      The Regulatory Services Manager replied that one of the Field Officers with her could answer and he gave an example of dealing with a complaint regarding tagged graffiti in the Hanover area, where they had managed to liaise with the freeholder of the building and got the graffiti painted over and that it now had remained graffiti-free.


9.15      The Chair stated that she felt it was important to speak face to face with customers and that this was better done in person, rather than over the phone, since problems could therefore be picked up on and de-escalated before they developed.


9.16      Councillor Simson stated that she had been supportive of the FO team since Day 1 and that she was sure that the service would improve and that there would be new work.  She stated that she felt there was one area that was missing, since Housing Associations had a lot of problems and that there was a missing link between them and the council at present and that she hoped the FOs could link the two.  She also felt that environmental improvement was important for the team to link into, but she stated that she felt people were still confused about how they could link in to the FO team.  She confirmed that she had taken part in a walkabout with members of the FO team and was still confused about which areas were possible for them to engage with and which areas were not.  She was pleased that the areas of fly tipping and noise response had been taken on board and requested that more walkabouts with the FO team were taken up.


9.17      The Chair raised the issue of the Customer Survey deadline which had now been extended to September, since she felt that the FO team had a useful role to play in this.


9.18      Councillor Ebel proposed an amendment to add a sentence to paragraph 2.1 “to note the work and progress of Field Officers and future reports”.  She stated that not many residents had been aware of the FO team and that since the FOs focus on inspections – such as what to do if residents had a noise complaint.  She confirmed that to be able to operate effectively she requested an awareness-raising campaign.


9.19      Councillor Clare agreed there was a need to raise awareness since in her ward they needed more public awareness about the FO team.


9.20      RESOLVED: To note the recommendation of the Report as follows:


To note the work and progress of the new Field Officer Team during the first six months of operation, and request that future reports include detail on the options for an awareness raising campaign for residents.




Supporting documents:


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