Police Accountability Board Notes 12 April 2022

Northants Police Logo




12th April 2022


1. Welcome and introductions


PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Nicci Marzec (NM

Louise Sheridan (LS)

CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

Detective Supt. Natalee Wignall (PSD)

PS Brett McKenna


  • SM 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. Budget Conditions Letter Update

The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner agreed a budget conditions letter with the Chief Constable as part of the budget setting process for 2021/2022.

The Commissioner requires a report outlining progress, at year end in implementation and progress of the matters agreed in this letter.

  • The Chief Constable’s Chief Finance Officer Vaughan Ashcroft referred to the paper submitted in advance of the meeting which provided a progress update in each area of the budget conditions letter.
  • The Commissioner expressed his gratitude for the work that Vaughan and his team are doing and how budgets are being monitored.
  • Budget monitoring has been undertaken throughout the year and reports are included in the Accountability Board on a quarterly basis.
  • The report was taken as read with the Commissioner asking questions on specific areas.
  • In relation to the forecast underspend, Vaughan confirmed that the outturn report will be produced in the coming weeks.
  • The Commissioner expressed his disappointment that the Force had narrowly missed its31st March 2022 recruitment target. He was assured that the required number of staff had been recruited in order to access the central government additional uplift grant and funding but that there had been unexpected attrition and a number of recruits offered jobs who did not turn up on their start dates in the last 3 months of the financial year.
  • The Commissioner was assured by the Chief Constable that there was robust plan in place this year to make up for this and to still reach the target establishment of 1501 officers by 31st March 2023.
  • The Chief Constable offered his apologies for not communicating the shortfall earlier but assured the Commissioner that plans were in place to recruit the additional 24 officers with an extension to the IPLDP and Direct Entry Detective pathways.
  • The Chief Constable advised he will be submitting a paper to address the shortage of detectives to the Commissioner for approval shortly.
  • On the uplift to Neighbourhood Policing, the Commissioner was pleased with progress in this area however as previously discussed, PCSO’s are under establishment and the PCSO review is still to be finalised.
  • Following a lengthy discussion, the Chief Constable with give further consideration as to what resourcing level this needs to be to meet future demand. Ongoing work in relation to demand management will influence this. He will then discuss this with the Commissioner.
  • There was a discussion on the positive reduction in the number of ASB incidents however it was noted that customer satisfaction levels continue to decline.
  • The Deputy Chief Constable confirmed that levels of customer dissatisfaction have stabilised and have started to improve. This is as a result of higher officer attendance to ASB incidents and customer call backs where attendance is not required.
  • The Commissioner asked if the Op Alloy review had been completed and if it had, where was the evaluation.
    The Deputy Chief Constable advised that he is working with Adam Smith from NHS specifically around the training of both Op Alloy nurses and officers along with stronger links into Mental Health Hubs.
  • Within the Budget Conditions letter it was agreed that some investment funding could be carried forward from 2020/21 into specific areas.
  • Most of the areas identified had progressed and the allocated budget had been spent accordingly however there were a couple of exceptions.
  • It was agreed that the Sexual Violence fund could be carried forward 2022/23 and ringfenced for work progressing via D/Chief Supt. Paul Rymarz, subject to approval of a plan by OPFCC.
  • Likewise for a small underspend in Neighbourhood Policing training where courses had been booked for May.
  • The Commissioner was disappointed that the money allocated to the Digital Forensic Unit has not been spent and continues to be a challenge.
  • Whilst the digital device queue has come down substantially, the Commissioner is more interested in how long the device has been with us.
  • The Chief accepted the observations. He has appointed D/Supt Jamie Piscopo and D/Chief Insp. Steve Watkins to lead on the improvements required and has the confidence in them to do so.
  • The new Digital forensic examination vans are expected to arrive in Force mid-April. (Since the meeting it has been established that PDS have not completed the Northamptonshire van and delivery is not likely to be till late May 2022).
  • On Enabling Services – The Commissioner commended the work being done by Assistant Chief Officer Paul Bullen and his team. (Finance doing particularly well and HR showing improvement).
  • There was a discussion about the Estates Board which take place on 13th The Commissioner is keen to get an update on the sale of Corby, Kettering and Towcester Police stations along with a progress report on the joint fleet workshop facility.
  • There was a discussion on the transition from MFSS.
  • The Chief Constable offered his thanks to Vaughan and his team for the tremendous effort they have made to enable us to exit the shared service.
  • The Commissioner was pleased with the work being done on a consistent customer service team approach to victims.
  • It was agreed that as a report on Integrated Offender Management (IOM) and Out of Court Disposals has been requested for review at the May Accountability Board this would be discussed in further detail then.

Assurance statement:

The Commissioner was assured that effective governance and monitoring processes were in place for financial management.

The Commissioner expressed some concerns about Police Officer and PCSO recruitment plans but the Chief Constable assured him that officer plans were on track with a robust plan to achieve the establishment milestones in this year and promised an update re PCSO plans by end of April.

Having asked for further details on the work to improve ASB satisfaction, the Deputy Chief Constable provided him with some reassurance in relation to work being undertaken to identify causes and improve this situation and the Commissioner commented that he looked forward to seeing improvements in this area.

Overall, the Commissioner was assured and satisfied that most of the conditions in the budget letter had been achieved. There are still a couple of items where further reassurance is required. These will be tracked via the Action log until the Commissioner is completely satisfied.


4. Complaints update

The Commissioner requires an update on the police management of complaints.


The paper should include statistics on the number of complaints dealt with in PSD over the past 12 months and a comparison on the previous 2 years.


It should also include analysis of the reasons for these complaints and outcomes form the investigations, as well as trends in complaints.


The report also should include an update on:


  • Timeliness – assessing and resolution of complaints and comparisons with last year
  • Reflective Practice – Times used and trends in relation to its use, how patterns are monitored, and learning spread across the whole organisation, usage and whether instigated via complaint or management action


  • Detective Superintendent Natalee Wignall, Head of PSD provided an overview on complaint outcome data and trends, timeliness ad reflective practice.
  • The period covered was 1st February 2021 to 1st January 2022.
  • Every expression of dissatisfaction is recorded
  • Of the 863 complaints recorded in this period 443 were resolved by way of Service Recovery.
  • Sarah explained that the increase in the number of complaints received is a result of a change in legislation. This has been seen in all Forces and has been verified with the IOPC.
  • The service recovery rate is currently in the region of 65%. This is good and improved.
  • Emily Evans in the OPFCC is reviewing to see what we can learn from Forces who are doing better. There are few that are but this will be researched.
  • Whilst there has been an increase in recorded complaints, the data shows that the OPFCC customer service team have soaked up a good and increasing proportion of this demand. If they were not in place, all 863 complaints this year would have needed to go to PSD.
  • There was a discussion about complaint resolution timeliness within the Force.
  • Sarah provided an explanation on ‘scoping time’ advising that it can take up to 5 weeks for an assessment to be made.
  • The Commissioner asked for clarification on the timescales, specifically around when does the clock start. i.e. the date the complaint is recorded and sent to PSD or after they have accessed it and determined what they are going to do with it. The DCC agreed to provide this

Action NW to provide more detail on the length of time it takes PSD to fully resolve a complaint and confirm when the clock starts in relation to the statistics in the graphs contained in her report.

  • The Commissioner welcomed the decrease in the number of complaints being resolved in excess of 120 days
  • Once reviewed, the majority of complaint cases are resolved through a reasonable and proportionate explanation, which finds in the main, the service provided by the Force as being acceptable.
  • The Force still finds opportunities to take some learning and identify service improvements from these.
  • There was a discussion on Reflective Practice.
  • The Reflective Practice process enables the Force to deal with performance or conduct issues that falls below the expected standards of behaviour but does not require an Investigation.
  • It can also be an outcome at the conclusion of a complaint.
  • The process encourages those officers to reflect on matters of dissatisfaction raised by members of the public and to learn from them.
  • At this time, Reflective Practice is only available for Police Officers. A new Police Staff process will be implemented within the next few weeks which will introduce Reflective Practice for staff as well.
  • Feedback on reflective learning has been welcomed as a way to manage lower-level matters reducing bureaucracy and to empower supervisors to deal, where appropriate, with minor issues themselves.
  • There was a discussion about overall conduct including Reg 13 notices and gross misconduct.
  • The number of officers being dismissed due to serious conduct issues remains low.
  • Officers are encouraged to challenge inappropriate behaviour.
  • In addition, the Values Programme that was launched in November 2021 provides a range of resources in relation to standards along with information that reinforce positive behaviours and adopt a preventative approach to misconduct.
  • The Force have also implemented performance related pay from April. Officers will only progress through the pay grades if they meet the PDR objectives and all mandatory training is up to date.
  • Adding reflective practice to PDR’s should not be considered as a punishment but to demonstrate that the officer has learned and improved.
  • The Force is also investing in supervisor training with management courses for sergeants starting in May.
  • The OPFCC figures demonstrate the positive impact that the triage and service recovery process has had on complaints that are reported to Northamptonshire Police.
  • There continues to be a solid working relationship between the OPFCC, PSD and Countywide Complains to ensure an effective service is delivered to those who make complaints.
  • The timeliness of investigations remains a focus for PSD and has improved over the past 12 months and in March 2022 there was an agreed increase in staff of 1 and a half posts, which will have a positive effect on the timeliness of future investigations.

Assurance Statement :

The Commissioner was pleased to receive this report and commented positively on the increasing levels of service recovery.  

Overall, the Commissioner is satisfied that PSD provide a robust approach to matters in their remit, but he did have some concerns relating to the timeliness of PSD investigation and requested further information to be supplied to his office.

5. A.O.B

  • The Commissioner asked for an update on the Emergency Service Cadet review.
  • The Commissioner reminded the Chief Constable that he has £100k set aside to invest and expand the cadets. This money will be invested elsewhere should a satisfactory resolution to the review not be forthcoming.
  • The Commissioner left this with the Chief Constable.