Police Accountability Board Notes 13th October 2020

Office of Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime CommissionerNorthants Police Logo




 13th October 2020


1. Welcome and introductions


PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Helen King (HK)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Stuart McCartney (SMc)

CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

C.Supt Ash Tuckley (AT)

C.Supt Mick Stamper (MS)

Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)

Apologies were accepted from ACC James Andronov, ACC Simon Blatchly and Paul Bullen

  • 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. Budget conditions letter update

  • The Commissioner agreed a budget conditions letter with the Chief Constable as part of the budget setting process for 2020/21.
  • The Commissioner requested a report outlining progress on the matters agreed in the letter.
  • Additional information was requested in relation to Neighbourhoods and Rural Policing as well as ASB.
  • Having read the report the Commissioner commended the methodology and the robustness that both Vaughan Ashcroft and Helen King bring in assisting the Chief Constable to track progress across each section of the Budget letter.
  • There has been solid progress on the ‘Uplift’ recruitment and the Commissioner is satisfied that the Force is on track.
  • The Commissioner has allocated £1.5m to the Chief Constable to use in support of his operational priorities. (This includes £400k received from a successful Special Grant bid in April 2020).
  • The Commissioner expressed some concern that only £480k of the £1.5m has been spent and asked for reassurance, that confirmed expenditure against his allocated investment and the Special Grant, will be delivered before the end of this financial year; particularly in relation to the growth of the Dog Section and improvements to the Digital Hub.
  • The Force confirmed that growth in the Dog section is on track. The Digital Hub work is more complex with significant impacts on a large number of areas of the business. Progress is being made in this area and will continue.
  • The Commissioner articulated that at the very outset, when allocating the Investment Funding, his focus was on making a positive change to Local Policing. The Special Grant funding provides an opportunity to accelerate these improvements to ensure harder to reach rural communities feel more supported.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed that for the next Accountability Board in November he would have a draft of the new Neighbourhood Policing structure.
  • There was a discussion on improvements to the Force burglary rates, which show a 30% reduction thus far.
  • The Commissioner was keen to ensure that the Force is joined up with the work being delivered by the successful bid of £1.4m from the Safer Streets Fund
  • Paul Fell provided a brief overview of the funding allocation and confirmed that both LPA Superintendents and Chief Inspectors are aware. Funding will provide target hardening, extension to the CCTV network and in the region of 150 alley gates to reduce/prevent burglaries and drug dealing. (£550k Northampton, £545k in Wellingborough and £270k in Kettering).
  • Work needs to be completed by 31st March in line with the grant conditions.
  • There was a discussion about Force attendance rates to burglaries. The commissioner requested confirmation of the most up-to-date attendance rates to ensure there has been no drop off in the service provided.
  • The Chief Constable advised it was around 96% 5-6 weeks ago.

Action – Most recent burglary attendance rates to be provided to SM for clarification

  • The Commissioner was concerned that progress on plans to deliver greater operational interoperability between the Police and the Fire Service were not as advanced as he expected.
  • Both Chiefs have agreed the ‘Enabling Service Vision’ document and Paul Bullen has a detailed Integration Plan. Work is underway to remove barriers and obtain buy in below the rank of Chief Officer.
  • There was a discussion about missing people. The Commissioner advised that he had met with ACC Blatchly, Chief Fire Officer Dovey and Assistant Chief Fire Officer Hallam to discuss opportunities for NFRS to help reduce the demand Missing People place on policing.
  • The Chief Constable welcomed the initiative but stressed any integration at a tactical level will need to be considered in terms of ‘who owns the risk’ along with any cross over of roles. The Police Federation and the Fire Brigade Union will also need consulting.
  • The Commissioner acknowledged the Chief Constable’s concern but with the extra demand on policing because of the pandemic, coupled with increased mental health issues he is keen to explore how NFRS could assist in cases where there is a genuine concern for the welfare of a vulnerable missing person.

Action – ACC Blatchly and Paul Bullen to continue to explore potential options and opportunities along with the appropriate legal guidance.

  • There was a discussion on Qlik (a data visualisation tool) which continues to be developed at pace. DCC Nickless provided some good examples of where it is delivering a better service.
  • DCC Nickless agreed to share the ‘Vision Paper’ he is working on, along with some proposed additional training for staff.

Action SN to share Vision paper on Qlik with SM

  • There was a discussion on VCOP and victim care.
  • The Force is working with Voice to ensure a joint service provision and, that victims of crime are receiving regular updates.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed that D.Supt. Caroline Marsh is working on establishing what the standard of customer service should be so that victims know what service to expect. The Force can then measure how it is delivering on that service.
  • VCOP is relatively new and the Chief Constable is keen to ensure that the Force get it right.
  • There was a discussion about victims of domestic violence.
  • The Commissioner asked about the volume of conditional cautions issued under Project PIPA and any evidence that this tactic reduces reoffending rates or makes victims safer.
  • The Chief Constable advised that this is currently under review and he will have a report next week. He will discuss with the Commissioner upon receipt.

Action – NA to discuss the performance review of Conditional Cautions under Project PIPA with SM.

  • There was a discussion about the Commissioner’s Emergency Service Cadets review. The Chief Constable confirmed he has a meeting in the diary with CFO Dovey and CEO Richard Henderson for EMAS to agree the contribution of each organisation.
  • The Commissioner confirmed he is supportive of the Cadets and is keen to invest if it can be expanded and go forward with a focus on prevention rather than recruitment.
  • Collen Rattigan agreed to provide a paper at the next quarterly update.(Jan 2021)
  • There was a discussion about issues with file quality and work being undertaken to rectify this.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed crime skills training continued throughout the summer period. A weakness in the quality of files submitted to CPS has been identified. As a result, a business case has been submitted to establish short-term posts for Evidential Review Advisors to coach mostly young in service officers through the submission process.
  • In parallel, the FP25 team are reviewing the Justice department to identify any process changes that will ensure the Force is fit for the future.
  • PACE Inspectors are embedded and working with Custody Sergeants to ensure the appropriate use of bail and out of court disposals.
  • The Commissioner talked about his recent visit to the CJD and his observation that a lot of time was spent redacting information in case files. He asked if the scope of the FP25 review could include looking at any solutions or efficiencies offered by technology.
  • The Commissioner acknowledged the work the Chief Constable has done to improve the process with officers owning their own crimes and reducing the number of handovers. Feedback from the Magistrates Courts confirms they are starting to see the benefit of these improvements.
  • C Supt. Mick Stamper provided an update on the current position in relation to Neighbourhoods and Rural as well as ASB.
  • 20 additional Police Constables have been allocated in to four priority areas. 10 in Northampton, four in Kettering, three in Wellingborough and three in the Rural Crime Team (countywide). All officers will be in their new posts by 30 November.
  • In addition to the growth in the Rural Crime Team, a sergeant has been selected to line manage the rural crime team and drive a programme of engagement, prevention and enforcement activity
  • The LPA tasking process drives the activity of the Neighbourhood policing teams. This revised approach ensures that NPT activity is concentrated on fighting crime.
  • There was a discussion about Operation Abrade which ends today (13 Nov). Over 130 warrants have been executed, all led by neighbourhood teams. This type of enforcement will continue but under different names.
  • The Chief Constable commended the work led by C.Supt. Stamper including the work done to understand the void that remains when key players are arrested and disrupted including work being done with schools, CIRV and local partners.
  • Rural teams will be bolstered with the planned purchase of an engagement trailer and the investment in motorcycle off road capability.

Action – C.Supt. Mick Stamper to send through information on planned high visibility Ops planned when the timetable is completed.

  • In terms of improvements to the Rural Crime Team, they are now included in local tasking, a QLIK app is being developed to show rural crime, and the rural strategy has been updated.
  • There was a discussion about ASB
  • Significant increase (58.6%) between January – August. Largely due to members of the public reporting Covid-19 breaches.

4a. Budget Condition Letter Assurance Statement.

The Commissioner thanked the Chief Constable for the quality of the report received.

 He sought clarification and assurance on some of the content in order to gain clarity on some additional work that is underway. The Commissioner was assured in relation to the robustness of the budget monitoring arrangements that were in place and noted that this had improved significantly in recent years.

The Commissioner could see progress being made in many areas relating to the budget conditions letter and overall was assured on this. He was particularly pleased that additional resources would be in place in some neighbourhood policing teams and the rural crime team by the end of November 2020.

The Commissioner still required some additional information about how the Chief Constable saw the future of neighbourhood policing in the County and the Chief Constable is producing a paper specifically in relation to this in the next 8-12 weeks.

 he Commissioner expressed some concerns that progress on plans to deliver greater operational interoperability between Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service were not as advanced as he expected.

He was conscious that there was a governance structure in place to oversee this but required some additional reassurance on the speed of progress on this work and asked for a joint paper to be brought to this meeting in December 2020.


4a. Mid-term budget position


This report was presented in two parts: A mid-term budget update and a presentation on the early considerations and scenarios for the Medium Term Financial Plan

  • The Commissioner requires a mid-year financial outturn report for the financial year 2020/2021 for the period 1st April 2020 to 31st August 2020.
  • Vaughan Ashcroft gave an overview of the financial monitoring report and explained that the forecast outturn showed an £879K Force overspend as set out in the report.
  • The Commissioner gave the clear line that any overspend on the Force budget this year will be taken from the Force’s budget in 2021/22.
  • VA outlined the covid costs and grants, and the additional set of covid grants for lost fees, charges income, and additional enforcement costs for which returns are due by 21 October 2020.
  • The returns will be shared with the OPFCC prior to submission, as they require the Commissioner’s sign off.
  • The Commissioner scrutinised and challenged some of the information including overtime.
  • VA explained how some profiles were changing. He also shared the Commissioners concerns around Estates and costs in excess of the budget.
  • VA then outlined the additional work he has asked for in that area.
  • The Commissioner and the Chief Constable discussed the impact of the additional superintendents and other costs on the outturn and how they would impact the MTFP moving forwards.

Mid-term budget position Assurance Statement.

The Commissioner noted the Force response to COVID 19 had placed some additional financial pressures on the Force.

The Commissioner also noted that this was the case in the Chief Constable’s decision for the need to strengthen the leadership of the Force through the introduction of additional Superintendent posts. He noted the contents of the paper and the potential forecast overspend position. Staffing and overtime costs were placing some pressures on the Force budget this year and the Commissioner recognised the efforts being made and processes put into place by the Chief Constable to effectively manage these.

As with the budget conditions letter paper, the Commissioner was reassured by the robustness of budget monitoring processes that were in place, the responses he received to questions raised and stated that these had seen significant improvements in recent years.

The Commissioner articulated that there would, in the case of an overspend on this year’s Force budget, be a requirement to carry that forward into the next financial year

4bMTFP scenarios and assumptions

  • The Commissioner received a presentation on MTFP scenarios and assumptions from HK, NA and VA to spark discussion and inform the wider financial context and budget process.

5. A.O.B

  • No further business was raised.