Covid 19 response teams: Briefing Note

Three teams have been set up to work in communities with businesses, communities, and the voluntary and community sector to reduce levels of Covid cases across the county.

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Covid 19 response teams: Briefing Note

Three teams have been set up to work in communities with businesses, communities, and the voluntary and community sector to reduce levels of Covid cases across the county. Each team have their own defined areas of reactive and proactive responsibility and work together to ensure effective and efficient actions are put in place.  The work of the team will adapt rapidly to the change in restrictions nationally and locally, to ensure clear understanding within the community.

Community Spike Outbreak Management Group (CSOMG)

This group meets weekly to plan how best to respond to geographical areas showing to or exceeding in positive cases which have been identified by Public Health Outbreak Control Team/PH intelligence team and identify actions for the teams.

The three teams are:


1.     Community Protection COVID-19 Compliance Team

Context: Community Protection (CP) services provide strategic and operational response to local COVID-19 outbreak management and are responsible for regulation and enforcement of relevant Health Protection, Public Health, Health and Safety and Environment Protection Legislation.

The Role: COVID-19 Compliance Team provide the initial response to reported concerns about COVID-19 compliance or risks referred by the CP service. They provide advice and guidance to business to promote better compliance with current legislation as well as facilitates business diversification.

  • Reactive: Requests are received from many different sources including, Police, outbreak control teams, Neighbourhood Wardens, and direct referrals from the community hub. Reports are received from members of the public but to help demands on the service and wherever possible, requests are channelled through the community hub first.
  • Proactive: The team also lead and undertake planned interventions as well as react to reports. The CP service has a number of specialist teams which will provide an enhanced COVID-19 response in relation to local outbreaks, workplace health and safety, nuisance, and Anti-social behaviour. Some enforcement actions will need to be escalated to the specialist CP teams as and when necessary.

Powers: The CP service teams have a range of enforcement powers and tools to deal with non-compliance issues associated with current restrictions:

  • Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN’s)
  • Prohibition Notices
  • Improvement Notices
  • Abatement Notices
  • Community Protection Notices
  • Directions to close premises, events, or public places
  • Criminal Proceedings

The Team: The team has been established to provide a dedicated resource within Community Protection services. It comprises of a Community Protection Manager, 3 Team Leaders and 18 COVID Compliance Officers. The team operates across 3 areas – North, East and South and all cover Durham City Centre.

The Community Protection Teams and COVID-19 Compliance Teams work a split shift rota and subject to business needs may work from 08:00-00:00 7 days per week.

Reporting mechanisms:  There is a ‘Compliance Cell’ reporting into the Tactical Group of the Resilience Forum. This includes representatives from the Council’s COVID-19 Compliance Team, Police, Fire Service, University etc. Meetings are held weekly, and intelligence is shared as well as an agreement for a strategic approach. The COVID-19 Compliance Team report into the LRF Compliance Cell and the Compliance Cell report to the Health protection Assurance Board.

2.     COVID-19 Community Champions Programme (Volunteers)

Context: The COVID-19 Community Champions is a volunteer programme developed to ensure that we have open communication channels between the public sector and trusted individuals living in our local communities. It sits within wider County Durham Together remit.

The Role: Champions share relevant and timely information with the wider communities as well as share feedback from communities (what’s working well, what people think could be done better and what questions people are asking). There are 2 roles that volunteers can pledge to take on:

  • Champions – Supported to share information that suits their own availability, circumstances, networks and community needs.
  • Champions Plus – Allows those active in their community or those wanting to do more to become actively involved, again in a way that best suits individual and community circumstances.

The Team:  There is a volunteer Coordinator who supports and guides the work of approximately 77 people (41 Champion and 36 Champions Plus) who operate across three geographical locality teams – North, South and East.

In addition, the COVID-19 Community Champions Programme Lead is responsible for programme development as well as supporting Champions to establish links in localities with partners such as Police, COVID Awareness Officers, Neighbourhood Wardens, AAP’s, and VCS as well as many other partners.

3.     COVID-19 Awareness Coordinator Team

Context: It was identified that there was a need for coordination work in communities with internal and external front line service providers, elected members, communities, and the voluntary and community sector to reduce levels of Covid cases across the county.

The Role:

  • Develop a planned clear response to spikes in an area
  • Liaise with local VCS organisations, councillors, AAPs, businesses to ensure messages are being clearly understood in the area
  • Use the Communications Toolkit which will contain a range of key messages, materials with guidelines of where they can be deployed to share key messages in a timely and appropriate way.
  • Liaise with service managers to deploy front line resources such as park wardens, etc.
  • Work directly with Covid 19 Community Champions, Compliance Team, CP Team, Neighbourhood Wardens, Police, AAP’s, VCS, community venues and faith groups
  • Empower others to take individual and shared responsibilities for preventing the spread of the infection through education, access to information and clear understanding.
  • Develop simple education tools to ensure which can be delivered to front line staff and those working in the community.

The Team: The team sits in the Partnership and Community Engagement Team, Neighbourhoods and Climate Change and comprises the Partnerships and Consultation Team Manager, Consultation and Prevention Officer and 6 COVID Awareness Officers. The team are geographically/locality based but are able to support, as a wider team, at a county level when necessary.  Whilst mainly office based, the team will work in the community to support the Community Champions and will work evening and weekends to respond to emergencies.

Reporting mechanism: The COVID-19 Awareness Team reports into LRF Community Cell and via Community Cell Report to Health Protection Assurance Board.

Other key roles

The Police role in terms of coronavirus enforcement is more focussed on dealing with issues identified by members of the public, especially in respect of unnecessary travel, gatherings in open public places, social gatherings in private residences, wearing of face coverings in relevant premises etc.

For more information about the work of the teams contact:

Community Protection COVID-19 Outbreak and Compliance Team

COVID-19 Community Champions Programme (Volunteers)

COVID-19 Awareness Coordinator Team

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