Police Accountability Board Notes 10th November 2020

Office of Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime CommissionerNorthants Police Logo




 10th November 2020


1. Welcome and introductions


PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Stuart McCartney (SMc)

Tom Smith (TS)

CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

ACC Simon Blatchly (SB)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Sarah Crampton (SC)

D/Supt. Richard Tompkins

DCI Insp. Andy Glenn

Apologies were accepted from ACC James Andronov

  • The Commissioner welcomed everyone to the meeting.

2. Previous minutes and action log

  • Minutes of previous meeting were circulated with the meeting papers. No changes have been requested
  • Outstanding actions from the Action Log have been updated.

3. Force strategic priorities performance update

  • The Chief Constable has adopted a suite of performance measures and targets to measure progress against the adopted Force strategic priorities.
  • The Commissioner requested a report/presentation that demonstrates performance against these measures and targets for the performance year 2020/2021.
  • The Commissioner’s expectation is that the Force demonstrate the progress they have made and how they compare with their peers where relevant.
  • The report/presentation should also highlight any risks and concerns.
  • Sarah Calvert provided a presentation of the headline data from September.
  • There has been a large increase in the volumes of crime in particular in relation to the recording of secondary rather than primary crimes. Crime types which have shown the highest increase are stalking, harassment and coercive and control offences.
  • The reported increase is in line with our Most Similar Groups (MSG).
  • Whilst crime levels are increasing, what is reported has a higher chance of being resolved and more victims are satisfied with the service they receive from the Force.
  • SC agreed to share note/presentation which demonstrates how the Force is positively resolving more crime in the last 12 months.
  • 9% of crime is now reported online compared to 12 months ago.
  • The Commissioner asked for a breakdown of the types of crimes recorded online

Action SC to provide a breakdown of the crime types recorded online

  • CC Adderley pointed out that the 9% of crime reported online was additional to the crime reported using more traditional methods. (Improved accessibility = increased crime reporting). He expects the new neighbourhood model to have a similar impact.
  • There was a discussion about secondary investigations following the change in recording rules in relation to secondary crimes.
  • The Commissioner noted that the percentage of crimes being allocated for secondary investigation was 59%.
  • DCC Nickless sited three specific areas of focus as to why this might be; remote working challenges in the IIT, proficiency in the CMU and the significant increase in the number of Stalking and Harassment offences being recorded.
  • To provide reassurance DCC Nickless will brief the Commissioner outside of this meeting

Action DCC Nickless to provide a briefing on secondary investigations to the Commissioner.

  • There was a discussion about the rise in repeat victimisation rate for overall crime. The Commissioner was keen to understand if the Force has a strategy that highlights repeat victims of crime and offers any advanced service or links, in relation to crime prevention.
  • DCC Nickless sited two strands on work that are underway, one of which involves victims of Domestic Abuse. He is satisfied with MARAC and wider MASH element but agrees that an overarching strategy is needed.

Action ACC Blatchly to work with Vicky Martin from OPFCC to shape this work

  • There was a discussion about crime categories and whether these could be simplified to give the community the confidence that Primary Crime is stable.
  • There were discussions about High Tech crime, the use of Kiosks and POLIT.
  • SC moved on to report on other crime types:

Residential burglary: Overall levels are stable. Increase in recent weeks but sustained lower levels. On track to achieve 15% reduction target by March 2021. Will have the biggest reduction in the country on the current direction of travel.

  • The Commissioner commended the Force and welcomed the fact that home invasion rates were down, and detection rates have increased.
  • The Commissioner asked if commercial burglary was on a similar trajectory.
  • The Force confirmed commercial burglary rates are down, and they are looking at a small cohort of offenders to see if involved in both.

RASSO: Offences have returned to more typical levels with Op Antigua in July adding several historical offences.

  • Noting that the Force was an outlier against peers, the Commissioner asked if the Force understands what is causing this.
  • The key driver appears to be an increase in the 16 – 24 age brackets particularly in relation to sexting but also looking into current investigations that could be skewing the data and the impact of the first lockdown.
  • The Commissioner asked for an update on the proposed education post (investment provided in April) and an indication of the volume of sexting occurrences.
  • There was a discussion about schools and the need to join up the education piece at the appropriate point in the school curriculum.
  • There is a need for a more targeted response around cases that are escalating but don’t currently meet the threshold of the multi-agency Reducing Incidents of Sexual Exploitation (RISE) team and to ensure offering the right intervention at the right point.
  • The Chief Constable agreed adding that further work will be undertaken as part of the new Force Strategic Priorities which are being discussed at the Strategic Planning day on 11 November.
  • RASSO will be one of the key priorities and the Chief Constable will set strict and stretching targets along the same lines that the burglary reduction targets were set.

Action ACC Blatchly to speak to Nicci Marzec about educational priorities.

Action SC to provide further breakdown of sexting occurrences.

  • The Commissioner is keen to support in this area and offered additional investment or resources should the Force need it to understand why it is an outlier in this regard.
  • DCC Nickless welcomes this support. and agreed to consider how it analyses crime types that are an issue in order to gain a better understanding of these

Knife crime: Levels remain high, but threat and possession outweigh the Use of knives. An NCQRS algorithm pilot will provide greater understanding of why the Force is an outlier nationally. Early indications suggest under recording levels in other Forces with some showing 70% under recording ours showing 12% so better when making comparisons with other forces.

Action – The Commissioner requested further information in relation to those who use a knife versus those who carry a knife. He would also like to see where the offences are occurring; in a domestic situation or on the street.

Killed and Seriously Injured on our Roads: Volumes remain low in 2020. Very good national ranking and in line with our MSG

  • The Commissioner commended the work the Force had done to improve road safety and reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured.
  • There was a discussion about the length, type and quality of roads in the county.
  • Simon Mills at the County Council keeps the data that outlines this type of information
  • PF raised an issue on behalf of the NSRA regarding an issue with data sharing between the Force and Kier WSP that informs Department of Transport data.
  • DCC Nickless agreed to pick up with Supt. Tom Thomson to understand and resolve.

Action SN to resolve data sharing issue with NCC

Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: The return of schools has seen an increase in reports however most reports are still from officers not partners. Child neglect is a growing concern with police increasingly using S46 powers to safeguard vulnerable children.  High risk missing children is also on the increase as are ongoing concerns about sexting offences between young people.

  • There was a discussion about MOSOVO visits. The Commissioner welcomed the reduction in outstanding visits from last year.
  • DCC Nickless provided an update on the Chief Constables target and D/Supt Tompkins was able to add further clarification.
  • MOSOVO team is being increased – 4 new officers out for advert.
  • DCC Nickless to review case loads and post lockdown visit schedule to provide the Commissioner with reassurance re performance against the Chief Constables target.

Action SN to review MOSOVO visit schedule against the Chief Constables target and provide update and reassurance to the Commissioner as to when the Force will be at levels of outstanding visits that meet this.

  • The new Chief Technical Officer starts imminently and will conduct a detailed review of siloed systems and what can be done to bring data sources together in a more meaningful way.
  • MOSOVO team is being increased – four new officers out for advert which is good news.

Serious Organised Crime: There has been sustained higher levels of fraud and cybercrime. In addition, serious violence is increasing (national trend also upwards) mostly linked to OCG and gangs.

  • There was a discussion about cyber related offences and the types of offences which cause the most harm.
  • Kiosks are now being used more effectively but there are still a high number of outstanding high-tech devices to be reviewed. This has reduced significantly, however.
  • D/C Insp. Ally White now in charge of this area providing greater focus with his SIO experience and in terms of evidence presented in court.

Action DCC Nickless to provide the Commissioner with a detailed breakdown of SOC cyber offences.

 Action LS to arrange for the Commissioner to re-visit the High-Tech Crime Unit.

Vulnerability: Stable volumes at higher level. Mental Health related incidents account for 6.3% of all incident demand. During lockdown use of S136 powers much higher.

  • The Commissioner wanted to know what work has been done to understand why we are an outlier against peers in this area.
  • SC agreed to investigate the data in more detail to better understand the increase.

Action – SC to review data and provide update to the Commissioner on why the Force might be an outlier with it’s peers relating to the increases in the use of S136 powers.

Response times: Average Grade 1 response times are slightly above the 11-minute target but showing some signs of recent improvement. Time to dispatch on Grade 2’s is increasing on both LPA’s. There has been a small improvement in visibility of neighbourhood teams, but this is still below target.

  • There was a discussion about response times and the disparity of visibility of officers across the LPA’s.
  • Factors impacting response times are being reviewed and include crewing strategy, prisoner handling at weekends, resources in the FCR and overall leadership. All may have varying impacts.
  • C/Supt. Ash Tuckley is due to present on this at FSB on the review he will be undertaking which will conclude early 2021.

Action – PF to liaise with the Force to schedule an update on Response times and visibility at a future Accountability Board.

Outcomes and Criminal Justice: Positive outcomes are improving although the Force remains an outlier in key indicators.

  • The Commissioner is keen to support the Force through the work being done with the Local Criminal Justice Board (LCJB).

Victim satisfaction: Improving trend with overall satisfaction levels showing an increase in all crime types.

  • The Commissioner was particularly pleased to see this and thanked everyone involved.

Assurance Statement – Performance update paper and presentation

 The Commissioner received the most recent performance update from the Chief Constable.

 The Commissioner acknowledges the Force is progressing in relation to vision and leadership and there are areas concerning HMICFRS findings from the last inspection programme where the Chief Constable assures him progress is being made. This is positive and foundations are laid for performance improvements. The Commissioner is confident that hard work is underway to make these improvements.

 The Commissioner recognises and is assured, that changes the Force have made are having a positive impact in some areas; particularly in relation to burglary which has been reducing over the past 12 months. In addition, expressions of Service satisfaction from victims of crime shows ongoing improvements, with very high levels in some categories.

 The Commissioner remains concerned that the Force is an outlier in some cases with its most similar group of Forces and nationally in some areas, notably knife crime and RASSO.

 He seeks additional assurance the Force properly understands why this is the case and has an operational plan to fully understand this and address the issues identified.

The Commissioner has made the offer to support a better understanding of this with some additional funding or resource if required by the Force.

4. Domestic Abuse

  • Annually the Commissioner requests an update specifically relating to domestic abuse.
  • The report should cover the levels of recorded incidents and crimes over a three-year period and include the rates of positive action and victim satisfaction.
  • The Commissioner requested a commentary on how the Force is tackling this type of criminality as well as how it supports victims.
  • At the meeting, the Commissioner would like to discuss what work is underway to tackle future domestic abuse in the county.
  • D/Supt. Richard Tompkins provided an overview.
  • The number of incidents has remained relatively stable over the last three years although the Force saw a significant increase each month from March 2020 onwards, peaking in August 2020.
  • Overall 10% increase in volume of incidents which is in line with, but above the national picture.
  • D/Supt Tomkins suggested that this increase demonstrate a degree of confidence in reporting DA in Northants particularly given the focus on local awareness raising of the issue. The Force continues to be robust in asking people to report DA.
  • High risk incidents have stayed static and the increase has almost exclusively been at the lower end of the risk and harm spectrum coupled with a large increase in behavioural crimes of stalking and coercion and control being recorded.
  • The Commissioner requested a more detailed breakdown of DA crimes to include social media linked occurrences. He felt this would provide a better understanding of the problem (Physical versus online abuse).
  • The Commissioner welcomed the increased conversion rate from incidents of DA to crimes. From a crime recording and ethical point of view it is positive that the Force has increased its conversion rate in this regard.
  • This led to a discussion on what victims want from the police when reporting DA and how we ensure any action taken is proportionate.
  • There was a discussion about reducing occurrences and whether police action/intervention make victims feel safer.
  • There was a discussion on how you move a victim to ‘survivor status’. Work with Voice, the MARAC, Project PIPA and signposting to give choice, space and time to think were all cited as important examples of this.
  • There was a discussion about lower level incidents which are much harder to prosecute. Coupled with the delays in courts and the need to take advantage of increase use of Out of Court Disposals.
  • A positive action is not always ‘Arrest’ therefore additional investment in alternative pathways and use of the MADRA (Multi Agency Daily Risk Assessment) is key.
  • The Force is also conducting a pilot in telephone resolution for lower risk incidents.
  • The Commissioner asked about the increased number of cases where there are evidential difficulties.
  • D/Supt Tomkins explained these were cases where the victim refused to provide a statement or there are no injuries or evidence to prove the offence. In these cases, the CPS is reluctant to offer a charging decision. This is where Conditional Cautions are used.
  • Where there is a high level of injury CPS are supportive. Also, victims are more likely to be supportive.
  • D/Supt Tomkins was pleased to report that his team has increased from two D/Sgts to five with one more post to recruit.
  • In addition, Dip samples are driving up performance so coupled with a bigger team his expectation is that overall outcome rates will continue to improve.
  • On average the Force receive between 1000 and 1,200 reports of DA each month. Typically, 120 of these would be classed as high risk.
  • The Commissioner would like to offer the support of Vicky Martin in the OPFCC to better understand the lower risk cases and those uncovered in secondary investigations to understand what the problem is if on the previous x number of occasions, the victim didn’t call the police.
  • This was welcomed by D/Supt Tomkins.

Action RT to provide breakdown to the Commissioner of DA cases which were virtual online matters against physical face to face abuse.

Action NM to update Vicky Martin on Symposium idea led by OPFCC and discuss partnership approach with ACC Sturman to include Adult services, Vulnerable adults and younger couples who could be at the start of damaging relationships that could continue for the rest of their lives.

  • There was a discussion on victim satisfaction and what is being measured.
  • There was a discussion about success measures for the MARAC.
  • A steering group meets quarterly and actions are tracked and checked at each meeting to ensure they are followed up. Partners need to be involved as much as possible as the MARAC is not a case management function purely an information sharing partnership to assure each other they have the right things in place, although Det Supt Tompkins made the point that there is follow up on agreed actions at MARAC.
  • There was a consensus that policing cannot solve DA by itself and the Commissioner is keen to influence how other partners can support but this relies on the Force having a clear understanding of its part in the process.
  • The Commissioner offered support if the Force need any short-term investment to look at the number of incidents, why they are going up and what the Force want to do about that.

Assurance statement – Domestic Abuse paper

 The Commissioner received this annual update in relation to domestic abuse. He was assured that the Force overall had a good response to domestic abuse, a fact borne out in some respects by the satisfaction levels of victims of these crimes.

 As discussed at the meeting, the Commissioner felt that there was a need for greater understanding and insight about what services victims expect or require; when contacting the police to better meet victim needs at the point of contact.

5. A.O.B

  • No further business was raised.