Police Accountability Board Notes 8th September 2020

Office of Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime CommissionerNorthants Police Logo




 8th September 2020


1. Welcome and introductions


PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Helen King (HK)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Stuart McCartney (SMc)


CC Nick Adderley (NA)

ACC James Andronov (JA),

ACC Simon Blatchly (SB),

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Supt. Dennis Murray (DM)

D/Supt. Paul Rymarz (PM)

Apologies were accepted from DCC Simon Nickless (SN) and Paul Fell (PF)

  • The Commissioner welcomed everyone to the meeting.
  • The Commissioner advised the Chief Constable that an Overall Assurance Statement will be formally added to all Accountability Board minutes. These statements will be collated and used in future reports to the Police, Fire and Crime Panel.

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. Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO)

  • The Commissioner requested a report relating to recorded offences of sexual violence in the County in order to provide a clear understanding of the level of offences and any trend analysis.
  • The Force was also asked to provide a plan to tackle recorded levels of sexual violence both now and in the future.
  • D/Supt. Paul Rymarz provided a detailed overview of the current volume of RASSO.
  • The number of offences continues to rise and is undoubtedly compounded by Operation Antigua, a large investigation into non-recent sexual offences as well as legislative changes and improvements to crime recording.
  • Valuable insight into the current levels of sexual offences was presented using Qlik, a data analytics platform which is used to create interactive guided analytics applications and dashboards.
  • There was a discussion about current levels of sexual violence which whilst higher, the vast majority of offences reported actually occurred many years ago.
  • Analysis has shown that for rape crimes recorded in the past 12 months show only 38% occurred in 2020.
  • Non recent offences span 60 years with 24% taking place between 1960 – 2009 and 38% taking place between 2010 – 2019.
  • Whilst the proportion of non-recent (over 6 months at the point of recording) presents significant investigative challenges due to the lack of forensic evidence, it demonstrates that trust and confidence in Northamptonshire Police is high in responding to the reports.
  • There was a discussion about trends over the past three years.
  • There are significant challenges in that in nearly 50% of cases the victim is not supportive of police action against the suspect and in 70 – 80% of cases, the offender was known to the victim. (partner/ex partner/family member/acquaintance)

Action – The Commissioner is keen to understand why 50% of victims are not willing to support police investigation and asked for more information as to whether this relates to historic or recent cases. Also keen to understand if there is anything more that VOICE could do to support victims – PR to provide information

Action – The Commissioner would like a review of the most recent recorded cases 38% occurring during 2020) to be reviewed against other Forces in our most similar group (MSG) to ensure that the Force is not an outlier in this area. The Commissioner further requested that Tom Smith from the OPFCC be involved in this analysis.

  • Further analysis of victims in the 10 – 19 age bracket show these to be ‘other sexual offences’ for example swapping indecent images between young people. These offences are correctly recorded but often not prosecuted.
  • There was a discussion on the Force’s plan to tackle recorded levels of sexual violence both now and in the future.
  • D/Supt Rymaz advised there is now a comprehensive Sexual Violence Reduction Plan in place which include:
  • Working alongside the Neighbourhood Teams to make vulnerable locations (e.g. Sex Workers District and the University of Northampton Campus) safer.
  • Working with online dating sites
  • Reintroducing the multi-agency Sexual Violence Prevention Group
  • Working with partners on a strong education programme to deal with the significant issue that is faced in most investigations, that of ‘consent’.
  • Other initiatives include Hotel Watch – a joint initiative between some Police Forces and the hotel community to see how effective these have been in preventing incidents of rape and sexual violence.
  • They are also developing stronger ties with CSP’s to put education officers in schools to talk about healthy relationships. Also huge overlap with domestic abuse and CSE.
  • There was a discussion about the Night Time Economy and whether any targeted intervention is this area was required.
  • D/Supt Rymarz confirmed this was a misnomer. (76% of all rape offences are committed in a private dwelling. With only 16% in a public space). Better education around relationships, consent and alcohol is key here.
  • Whilst positive outcomes have fallen it was accepted that this is a societal issue and not just a policing issue. Aside from some of the investigative issues the Force has excellent Crime Data Integrity with a good level of trust and confidence contributing the rising levels of recorded offences.
  • Want people to come forward earlier and feel confident to come forward immediately or certainly within a couple of days to improve the chance of a positive outcome for the victim.

Overall Summary

The force provided an update on the recording of offences and noted that a high proportion of non-recent offences recorded date back to the period of the 1960s through to the 1980s.

The Commissioner asked for recorded figures for the last six months to help identify what further work needs to be undertaken to make communities safer.

The Commissioner felt that the Force were on a positive trajectory but this was an area which he felt needed additional investment as well as multi-agency approach and requested a broader piece of work on this to deliver longer term solutions. This work should be led by the OPFCC and supported by the Force.

As part of this the Commissioner requested comparative information about the force’s performance. The Chief Constable suggested hosting a symposium to bring key partners together which the Commissioner agreed but felt it was important that the Force compiled detailed information before to help inform the wider work with partners including CPS, Public Health, Voice and Rape Crisis.

Overall Assurance Statement 

The Commissioner welcomed the work that had been done in this area to provide the Force with a better understanding of the nature and context of this offending. He also recognised and welcomed the significant work undertaken to improve overall investigative standards with the appointment of additional trained detective officers and the leadership shown in this area. He was assured by the overall direction of travel.  

The Commissioner and Chief Constable agreed that this was an area that required a problem solving approach wider than solely the police and agreed a seminar, with partners would be organised to try and address some of the longer term prevention issues and concerns.  

The Commissioner remained concerned with the fact that the Force appears to be an outlier with its peers and there is insufficient contextual understanding as to why this might be, as well as the positive outcome rate for sexual offences and the fact that between 40% and 50% of victims of rape reports do not wish an investigation to take place.  

The Commissioner requested that this subject be brought back to the accountability board in 6 months to check progress on these areas.

4. Use of Force

    • The Commissioner requested a report on the manner in which the Force monitors the Use of Force by its officers specifically;
    • The processes that are in place to monitor this.
    • How the profile of Use of Force has changed over recent years.
    • Any potential disproportionality that is evident in the use of force, along with any explanations for this and any activity that is being done to better understand or address this.
    • Where there are requirements for regular training in use of force such as UDT and Taser, reassurance that the mandated training and reclassification regimes are met.
    • Supt. Dennis Murray provided an overview of the key issues and progress of the work streams in Northamptonshire Police’s approach to the Use of Powers along with a data set to answer the specific questions raised.
    • The Force monitors three thematic strands: Effective Use of Powers, Ethical Use of Powers and Openness to Scrutiny.
    • Every strand has a Chief Inspector or equivalent dedicated lead and has been developed from national best practice, community feedback and the findings of the Open Source Foundation into Northamptonshire Police’s Stop and Search Reasonable Grounds Panel.
    • Handcuffing is the most common Use of Force and has seen a steady rise since 2017 following the compulsory recording of compliant handcuffing. Since mid-2018 this trend has stabilised and is showing a small reduction in recent quarters.
    • Compliant handcuffing is used in the majority of cases, with only 1 in 3 handcuffs used where the subject is non-compliant. This is also stable.
    • There has been a decrease in the use of batons but an increase in the use of Firearms, Police dogs and Taser.
    • This reflects the increased availability of Police dogs and Taser within the Force and in the case of Firearms, the increased threats posed by Organised Criminality and the number of firearms discharges by criminals within the community.
    • The Use of Powers Board scrutinises all Use of Force data for any disproportionality. 80% of force is used against males which is stable over time.
    • 1 in 3 subjects are aged 25-34 and this is the dominant group across all years. Those aged 18 – 24 represent 1 in 5 people where force of any type is used.
    • When reviewing the ethnicity of subjects, people of Black or Mixed heritage backgrounds are more likely to be subject to use of force than White British people but this is also reducing. Analysis conducted to understand this disproportionality showed that Black subjects were more likely to have a compliant handcuffing used, whereas White British subjects were more likely to have Physical Strike, Restraints, Dogs and Taser used against them.
    • The rate at which Black subjects were searched compared to white British subjects shows a decrease over the past two years. Other ethnicities remain relatively consistent.
    • Drug searches against Black subjects (male aged 18 – 24) is also decreasing but they are still 2.1 times more likely to be searched.
    • Work is underway to understand if there is disproportionality in the logging of intelligence data in this group as opposed to all groups.
    • Early findings suggest that when reviewed by the specific Ward/Borough they are less disproportionate and more reflective of the community of that Ward not the totality of the Force area.
    • To understand this work further, Sarah Crampton’s team are looking at specialist Demographic Software which will provide a more accurate picture than the 2011 census information.
    • Supt. Murray is also working with community groups to reassure them about the use of any such software to accurately reflect what is considered proportionate, justifiable and reasonable.
    • The commissioner is keen to support Supt. Murray in this area.

    Action – DM to engage with and involve the Commissioner in any reassurance work as appropriate


    • Taser usage has increased consistently over the past 18 months and has been used significantly more often against Black subjects than White subjects. This correlates with County Line Gangs and should be judged against the target area not the whole county demographic.
    • For reassurance, the Commissioner has asked the Force to include the MSG comparison in the quarterly Use of Powers performance product.


    Action – DM to include the MSG comparison in the quarterly Use of Powers performance product.


    • There was a discussion on the use of Body Worn Video. These must be turned on during all incidents where Force is used.
    • A Use of Powers Board is held every quarter and chaired by ACC Andronov. This is where the data is reviewed and exceptions discussed to drive activity and improvements.
    • Compliance rate on usage is currently 96%.
    • The Force is currently testing Power Banks for vehicles to mitigate occasions where the battery has run flat.
    • From August 2020 the Force now publishes data externally. This includes an infographic which will be updated every 28 days.
    • The Force has an established Stop Search Working Group which is represented by BAME members from the community, voluntary groups and partners and has recently appointed its first independent Community Co-Chair, Gilly Anglin-Jarrett.
    • The Force has received positive feedback from Michael Shiner who is assistant director of the Mannheim centre for criminology at the London School of Economics, and is a member of StopWatch, which works to ensure fair and accountable stop and search.
    • The Force has also been asked to share examples of ‘Best Practice’ with the Mayor’s Office and most recently with Merseyside Police.
    • ACC Andronov invited the Commissioner to attend a planned Stop and Search Working Group Away day. The Commissioner has accepted the invite and confirmed his attendance.

    Overall Summary


    Northamptonshire Police presented to the Commissioner an update on the use of Stop and Search, the use of force and the deployment of Taser.


    The Commissioner felt that such reports needed better graphs to aid with accountability in terms of identifying trends and to ensure everyone is treated equally.


    The Force agreed to provide such information quarterly to allow the Commissioner to review. The Force also explained that more work is being undertaken in relation to training and engaging with the community.


    Overall Assurance Statement


    The Commissioner highly commended the work that had been and was being undertaken in this area, with evidence that Northamptonshire Police has moved further and faster than other Forces in its understanding of use of force and disproportionality and the use of that information and data to change the methods it uses to operate. This approach was holistic and involved local community members.


    The Commissioner recognised that there was still evidence that there was disproportionality in the use of force powers, although this had significantly reduced and the direction of travel was both positive and welcomed. He welcomed the further work ongoing in relation to disproportionality and hypothesis testing of the reasons for this and the fact that this greater understanding ought to provide the basis for further advances.

    The Commissioner recognised that the use of force figures are misleading as a large percentage of them are compliant handcuffing. There was a recognition that the Force needs to record this as a national requirement but it could lead to a misunderstanding with the general public as to what force actually means.

         This might be an areas which PCCs and PFCCs could raise with The Home Office.

5. A.O.B

  • There was a discussion on changes to the reports provided to the Police, Fire Crime Panel to provide greater reassurance to Members along with a joint endeavour to release more information to the public.
  • It was agreed that the narrative to support all of the statistics being released is important to reassure the public.