Police Accountability Board Notes 8th December 2020

Office of Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime CommissionerNorthants Police Logo




 8th December 2020


1. Welcome and introductions


PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Stuart McCartney (SMc)

Helen King (HK)


CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Chief Finance Officer Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)

D/Chief Inspector Lorraine Gordon

Apologies were accepted from ACC James Andronov and ACC Simon Blatchly


  • 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

Draft Budget and capital programme

  • The Commissioner requires a report outlining the draft budget requirements and capital investment proposals for Northamptonshire Police for the financial year 2021/2022.
  • The Commissioner would also like to discuss the national and local funding uncertainties, together with indicative timescales and the impact on the MTFP.
  • Details of the one-year Spending Review for the public sector were announced on 25th Details of the police finance settlement for 2021/22 are expected to be released shortly before Christmas.
  • It is expected that the core grant settlement will be on a flat cash basis, plus our share of budget for the officer uplift programme.
  • The profile of the officer uplift budget has been adjusted by the government to 6,000 officers in 21/22 rather than 8,000 previously advised.
  • If the Force was to follow suit its share of the uplift the resultant impact would be in the region of 19 fewer officers than the current recruitment plan.
  • Vaughan Ashcroft presented the draft Force Budget report and outlined the zero-base budget approach. He also outlined the scrutiny and challenge undertaken in the process.
  • The Commissioner remarked that each year the budget had developed so much that the key points could now be considered and discussed with more clarity and assurance.
  • Regarding the budget, the following were discussed and agreed:
  • Some adjustments to be made by VA to the draft to reflect Regional considerations (which are still under discussion) and remove Darby House catering.
  • The Commissioner approved the 12-month case building request of £242K – the 2020/21 cost would be met from reserves if required and the 2021/22 cost built into the budget and supported by reserves where appropriate.it was noted that this was a one year requirement as the business case made this cost neutral after that time.
  • The Commissioner and the Chief Constable agreed to continue with the recruitment of the 19 police officer posts affected by the changes to the national uplift profile. However, VA to review the recruitment profile in the year as appropriate. The Commissioner agreed to increase the budget for these.
  • A discussion took place on the proposed contingencies, which were all relevant but there are options to how the risks were met.
  • HK and VA will work together following the settlement to determine whether they will be included in the budget as contingencies or whether the risk can be managed from reserves.
  • The Commissioner highlighted the circa £600/£700K of pressures that the Chief Constable had implemented within the 2020/21 financial year recognising that he would need to find savings to meet the costs. This included the additional Superintendents and Information posts and the Custody Contract.
  • It was agreed that the Chief Constable will include these in his savings considerations.
  • There was a discussion about the need to achieve momentum on the disposals within the Estates strategy and both the Commissioner and the Chief Constable advised of their expectations that these would be progressed.
  • The Chief Constable discussed the approach to his savings proposals and the Commissioner asked if another “people only” option was appropriate.
  • The Chief Constable agreed to consider this.
  • In terms of efficiencies, the Commissioner advised that with challenges on the Medium Term Financial Plan, policing need to bridge the gap and cannot keep adding to the costs without building in some efficiencies in the coming years, especially where funding is not increased for inflation and pressures; as is the case for 2021/22.
  • The Commissioner advised he has been considering discussing with the Chief Constable, to look at ongoing efficiencies in the force which could facilitate reinvestment of those efficiencies and embed continuous improvement as part of usual business practice.
  • As a starting point, he suggested 1% of the previous year’s budget to give some context, but this was not fixed and his intention in raising this was to start this discussion where he felt this would enable the force to identify areas for efficiency which could be reinvested.
  • The Commissioner recognised the force may need to consider different ways of doing things or not doing other things and would be prepared to consider and discuss these.
  • The Chief Constable asked if the Commissioner to share this with him in writing which he agreed to do when he had finished his considerations.
  • The Commissioner confirmed his reasons for raising this today was to signal his thinking and he would welcome a discussion with the Chief Constable at their next 1-2-1. It will also likely be included within the annual budget letter.

Action SM to write to the NA once they have discussed the idea of 1% efficiencies in their next 1-2-1 meeting, outlining his requirements in this regard.

  • VA and HK highlighted the draft Capital Programme and advised how the capital financing charges impact on the medium-term financial plan in later years, particularly with short life assets.
  • A workshop has been scheduled in January 2021 where the S151 officers, Paul Bullen, Clare Chambers, Paul Fell and Heather Cowley will discuss all the ICT elements further, the profile and timing of them to determine affordability and deliverability.
  • The Commissioner recognised that the settlement was not yet available and that tax base and council tax deficit information was not yet known; however, HK had advised if needed, this would be managed to and from reserves.
  • The Commissioner advised that after the settlement, he would be going out for the public’s views on the appropriate level of council tax as part of the Precept Consultation – he is mindful of the impact on the public this year and will be looking very closely at their responses. These are expected in mid/late January 2021.
  • The Commissioner thanked VA for the work on the budget report and for how it had developed over the past few years.

ACTION: Work will continue between now and the next accountability Board on the finalisation of budget proposals.

4. ICO Intervention

  • Northamptonshire Police have been working with Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for some time in relation to its compliance with Freedom of Information (FOI) and Subject Access Requests (SAR) and more recently following a voluntary ICO audit.
  • The Commissioner requires a formal report to provide an update on the engagement with ICO, relating to the voluntary audit, compliance rates with dealing with FOI and SAR requests and an outline of the plan to deal with and address any issues identified.
  • D/Chief Inspector Lorraine Gordon confirmed the Force engaged in a voluntary ICO audit in July 2020.
  • The audit took place over a four-day period from Monday 20th July 2020, during which the Force was assessed against three core areas: Governance and Accountability, Records Management and Training and Awareness.
  • The report from the audit identified several areas where work was needed to achieve compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA18) and other data protection legislation.
  • The ICO are due to return to Force w/c 11th January for an interim progress review, during which they are expecting to see significant progress against urgent and high-risk actions, with a further audit review scheduled to take place in May 2021.
  • All 93 actions identified have been assigned business leads and progress is monitored via the dedicated team assigned to the plan. Governance is provided through the Information Assurance Board chaired by DCC Nickless.
  • An Information Asset Register (IAR) has been created to help the Force understand and manage their information assets and the risks related to them and a training plan specifically focussed on managing information, will be uploaded and managed, via the newly developed HR/training tracking system.
  • The Force has also improved the content of its privacy notice, made it available in different languages, in an easy to read format and available as a printed version. Publication of the notice has occurred both internally and externally to promote transparency.
  • There was a discussion about the Management of Police Information (MoPI) legislation
  • The MoPI Code of Practice defines policing purposes as: (a) protecting life and property; (b) preserving order; (c) preventing the commission of offences; (d) bringing offenders to justice; (e) any duty or responsibility of the police arising from common or statute law.
  • As a direct consequence of the ICO action plan, the Force is also reviewing and improving it compliance to MoPI ensuring that the material retained is appropriate, relevant and helps inform/identify risk providing a more efficient and proficient service to public.
  • A business case has been agreed to provide an uplift of 4.8 police staff posts to the team. The vacancies are currently being advertised.
  • These additional posts will complement and professionalise Northamptonshire Police’s capability to process information and allow the Data Protection Officer to prioritise the strategic responsibilities aligned to the role.
  • Additional resources have been seconded into the unit as a temporary measure. These include officers and staff who are currently on restricted duties. These will be retained until the new staff are recruited and a handover of responsibilities can be completed.
  • NCALT training for Inspectors and above is being reviewed and strengthened by Paul Bullen’s team.
  • D/Chief Inspector Gordon provided assurance that the Force is in a strong position to give positive updates to the actions identified when the audit team return in January.
  • ICO Action Plan is on target to complete approximately 50% of the urgent/ high risk actions and demonstrate progress against the others.
  • The practice recommendation action plan for FOI/ SAR’s has agreed to achieve 75/80 % ‘in time’ compliance by April, and 90% ‘in time’ compliance by June 2021.
  • The Commissioner complimented D/Chief Inspector Gordon and her team on the progress achieved and the focus she has provided to improve the Forces compliance in this area. He looks forward to a further update on progress made next year.
  • CC Adderley added his thanks. He is confident the Force have and continue make significant progress and is incredibly grateful for the hard work that has been undertaken.
  • There was a discussion about the volume of SAR and FOI requests received and the increased demand placed on the Force as a result.
  • The Commissioner was interested in spurious ones; adding that whilst the legislation is well meaning, it is a major distraction with some people using it for disingenuous reasons.
  • CC Adderley added his thanks. He is confident the Force have and continue make significant progress and is incredibly grateful for the hard work that has been undertaken.
  • There was a discussion about the volume of SAR and FOI requests received and the increased demand placed on the Force as a result.
  • The Commissioner was interested in spurious ones; adding that whilst the legislation is well meaning, it is a major distraction with some people using it for disingenuous reasons.

Action – LG to provide numbers of spurious FOI’s and SAR’s since change of legislation

Action – SM to consider writing to parliament when information received.

Assurance Statement:

 The Commissioner recognised that progress had been made in this area.

 The Commissioner sought additional reassurance that progress was continuing in terms of performance and resource recruitment and received this from the Chief Constable.

 The Commissioner agreed that this was an important part of the business in relation to transparency and was provided with reassurance that plans were in place and on track to deliver and demonstrate good progress to the ICO when they revisit in January 2021.

5. A.O.B

  • No further business was raised.

Chief Officer Paul Bullen, ACC James Andronov, CFO Darren Dovey and ACFO Shaun Hallam joined the meeting.

6. Interoperability Update

  • Following a meeting in March 2020, the commissioner has agreed a programme of work relating to interoperability with the Chief Constable and the chief Fire Officer.
  • A key ambition of the Commissioner in taking responsibility for the governance of Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) as well as Northamptonshire Police (NP) was to create efficiencies and better service to the public of Northamptonshire.
  • The Commissioner requested a joint paper and presentation from the two Chief Officers to update on progress in relation to the agreed streams of work.
  • There is a statutory duty to collaborate for the three (Police, Fire and Ambulance) emergency services. This means that the services should be actively seeking opportunities to work together to deliver more efficient and effective public services.
  • The Commissioner has set his expectations within the Police and Crime Plan and the Fire and Rescue Plan, to create efficiencies to be reinvested into frontline services.
  • Key areas of focus include: Enabling Services, shared Estates, Shared Prevention Approaches and Interoperability.
  • On 13th October, the Commissioner briefed both NP and NFRS to explore the benefits of NFRS supporting missing persons. This was added to the programme for the Interoperability Board.
  • ACC Andronov provided a report which outlined the progress made in bringing the two organisations closer together from an operational perspective.

Tri-Service Role

  • Initial discussions have been had and further work is now being done to research across the sectors (e.g. Hampshire) to see how this model is developing.

Joint Community Safety Activity

  • Work on a Joint Arson Reduction Strategy is almost complete linking arson offences with serious and organised crime.

Tri-Service Emergency Service Volunteers

  • All three agencies have agreed at the Inter-Ops Board to pursue this joint initiative, in the form of Northamptonshire Emergency Services Volunteer Scheme (NESV).
  • Early discussions have highlighted how each organisation uses volunteers differently and recognises the benefit of bringing them together.
  • The impact of Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions have created several challenges, not least in the number of people prepared to volunteer.
  • Vetting processes and requirements for each organisation are different. NFRS and EMAS volunteers require only DBS checking whilst police volunteers require fuller security checks. This is being worked through.

Joint Command Facility

  • The Commissioner has set a clear ambition to consider the opportunity for a single Emergency Control Room for Police and Fire in Northamptonshire encompassing all joint management and incident/response coordination.
  • Both NP and NFRS have decision-points approaching regarding future control room infrastructure.
  • Agreement has been reached to scope out the feasibility and cost implications of a Joint Control Room and the Commissioner has been explicit.
  • At the start of the update the Commissioner made it clear to both organisations that he intends to make a Joint Control Room a Manifesto Commitment, particularly considering the lessons learned from the Grenfell Fire and Manchester Arena Bombing incidents.
  • The Commissioner was clear that he will not be approving any expenditure on Control Room upgrades or contract renewals until he has seen a business case for a Joint vision including a dedicated resource to ensure this work is progressed.

High Risk Missing People

  • Initial scoping into possibilities has been undertaken which has identified opportunities where NFRS may be able to support NP in searches for missing people.
  • NFRS already have operational guidance in place to support Very High-Risk missing persons through the use of drones, NILO’s and crews if required.
  • Opportunities have been identified under ‘The Golden Hour’ – urgent mobilisation of resources to support the immediate phase of a search.
  • There are also opportunities to support a ‘delayed response’ for substantial or complex searches over a longer timescale (hours into days).
  • CFO Dovey provided two examples from this weekend where crews in Wellingborough had assisted in the search for high risk missing persons.
  • The Commissioner commended the work that is going on in the background and encouraged both Chief’s to proactively push on with this work.
  • Whilst the Commissioner recognised the BAU work he would like to see accelerated delivery of the interoperability agenda. Community safety and vulnerability are real areas of opportunity in his ambition to give a better service to the people of Northamptonshire.
  • CC Adderley would like to see a matrix for areas that are working well together and some that we would want to explore further to identify the issues of liability and ownership between both Services.
  • The Commissioner agreed that a document setting out all the tactical and strategic elements and which clarifies any ambiguity around responsibilities would be welcomed. This should also include the Joint Control Room.

Action – SH and JA to produce a template that identifies all the different streams of work that are being undertaken relating to operational interoperability. This work can be progressed through the Interoperability Board rather than Accountability Board.

Assurance Statement:

The Commissioner welcomed the report from both Chiefs. He expressed his gratitude for the progression of the work relating to shared enabling services.

The Commissioner recognised and commended the work that was taking place in the background on the operational interoperability agenda but encouraged the Chief Fire Officer and Chief Constable to progress this work further, given that there are some areas where they have already agreed in principal with him, that they wish to explore.

 The Commissioner remains convinced that there are areas in this agenda that provide a real opportunity for the provision of enhanced service to the public. The Commissioner expects work in relation to proposals for a shared Police and Fire Control Room to be developed rapidly.