Police Accountability Board Notes 9th March 2021


Office of Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime CommissionerNorthants Police Logo

 

ACCOUNTABILITY BOARD

Minutes

9th March 2021

 

1. Welcome and introductions

Attendees:

PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Stuart McCartney (SMc)

Emily Evans (EE)

CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

ACC James Andronov

ACC Simon Blatchly

D/Chief Supt. Mark Behan (MB)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Sarah Peart (SP)

 

Apologies were accepted from Supt. Natalee Wignall.

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. Update on victim satisfaction and VCOP compliance

  • In August 2020 the accountability board received a paper relating to rates of compliance with VCOP and satisfaction levels with victims of crime.
  • It was agreed there would be an update provided between 6 and 9 months.
  • As such, the Commissioner requires a report based around that submitted in August 2020, with updated data and any progress made. There should also be a focus on the two areas identified in August 2020 relating to:
  • Informing a victim that a crime has been recorded in writing within 5 days.
  • 28-day victim updates
  • Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Behan provided the update.
  • Since adopting NICHE, the Force do not write to confirm that a person is a victim of crime. If a crime is recorded the victim will be issued with a crime reference number at the point of contact or as soon as is possible once it has been logged on the Force system NICHE.
  • There is no written confirmation by letter or email; in person confirmation is timelier and not affected by delays by post or incorrect emails.
  • It was agreed that this approach is sensible and pragmatic.
  • 28 Day Victim Updates are managed by the Officer In Charge (OIC) who identifies the most appropriate method depending on the nature of the update, the victim and any special circumstances that need to be taken into consideration.
  • Updates are captured in NICHE and when due can be found in QLIK which links directly to the occurrence.
  • QLIK is not yet able to report on compliance for the 28-day reviews; scrutiny of complex cases is undertaken within Senior Detective Reviews and audits by the Business Assurance Team (BAT).
  • Current checks show in 96% of cases victims are aware of OIC and where the case is at any given time.
  • This is a major improvement, under the SDM, OIC’s would change two or three times.
  • In terms of updates, Response officers are now directed to update victims every single set not follow the 28-day rule. This is playing dividends. 88.1% compliance
  • The Commissioner offered his congratulations for improving compliance rates from 63% to 88% but asked for reassurance that the Force is prepared for the next PEEL inspection.
  • MB advised that compliance has been consistent when checked. Hypothesis is that standards continue.
  • The Commissioner noted that in April, May and June last year, compliance was around 90’%. Would HMICFRS consider this to be good?
  • DCC Nickless confirmed satisfaction data continues to increase. CDI in March. 89% compliance was assessed as good. Audits will continue and supervisors will keep pressing on staff the importance of this.
  • Chief Constable Adderley is looking for the narrative of where gaps (11.9%) are so the Force can articulate this, accepting that 100% compliance is unattainable. (Can’t always get hold of the victim; officer may be off duty or abstracted).
  • There was a discussion about combining Voice. This is a fundamental service offered to victims. This can be recorded in several places but as it is done manually, it may not be recorded in all the right places.
  • MB explained that some victims have multiple crimes. (Less victims but more crimes). Pragmatic decision not to have officers updating 5 different crimes. Reassured that a senior officer has oversight and the victim has been fully updated.
  • The Commissioner agreed that this approach seems sensible and pragmatic and appears to be reflected in increased satisfaction, positive outcomes and senior officer grip.
  • In summary and for the purposes of future Peel inspections by HMICFRS: The Chief Constable and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner  have discussed a number of times at the Force Accountability Board the issue of the need to inform a victim of a crime in writing that a crime has been recorded, within 5 days of the crime actually having been recorded.
  • The Force have adopted a pragmatic approach in terms of the notification of this and the crime reference number.
  • If a victim reports a crime and this is recorded at the time by staff in the Force Control Room, then the victim is provided with the crime reference number at the point of contact. This confirms the crime has been recorded.
  • In the event that an officer is deployed to a victim, for example where the call relates to an emergency and requires an immediate deployment, the officer will take details at the scene and provide the crime number to the victim, again confirming that the crime has been recorded.
  • The Chief Constable and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner have agreed that in their view this is a reasonable and proportionate response to this need and will not seek to invest addition financial or human resources into any formal additional written notification to victims of the fact that a crime has been recorded.
  • This is on the basis that there are a range of other activities that better warrant this investment and the Force has an audit programme that has provided evidence and reassurance of very high levels of compliance of the described process.

Victims Code Implementation

  • In April 2021, the streamlined and simplified Victims Code of Practice will be implemented.
  • The NPCC, College of Policing, MOJ are working on products that will assist Forces to brief and prepare the frontline.
  • A summary of the Victims Rights within the updated Code was provided.
  • The full Code was included as an appendix.
  • MB is content that the Force is well prepared for the changes and does not anticipate any issues.
  • There are good referral mechanisms to; and a strong partnership with VOICE.

Action – Neil Moloney to check VOICE are compliant with the new Victims Code of Practice

Victims Right to Review (VRR) Guidelines to be refreshed.

  • The VRR scheme guidelines relating to the right of a victim to ask for a review of a decision not to prosecute a suspect were agreed in 2015
  • In light of the launch of the new Victims Code it is timely that the guidance is reviewed.
  • MB content that the Force is well prepared. This view is reinforced by a recent HMICFRS inspection which found 67 of the 70 cases examined showed that victim had received a good service.
  • The latest performance figures (November 2020) identify that increases have been observed across all elements of satisfaction. Victims tend to be the most satisfied with ‘treatment’ by officers and staff who deal with them, followed by ‘ease of contact’.
  • The Commissioner noted a slight decline in satisfaction with DA victims.
  • MB advised over recent months there has been a very slight downward trend in DA satisfaction causing the rolling average to fall below 90% overall whilst other crime types continue to rise.
  • MB believes this could be due to the sample size. It has been revisited over the Christmas and New Year period.
  • Positive arrest rates for the ‘most wanted’ DV perpetrators should address this slight decline.
  • DCC Nickless added satisfaction rates are usually in the 90’s but there were two months pre-Covid when rates of 94% have dropped off the rolling 12 months average and reduced the rate.
  • He would like to see rates stabilise at around 90% and has asked Sarah Crompton to do some additional analysis.
  • The Commissioner asked if he could have the long-term data commencing in 2015.

Action – DCC Nickless to ask Sarah Crampton to provide the Commissioner with DA satisfaction data starting in 2015.

 Assurance statement:

The Commissioner congratulated the Force on the improvements they had made in relation to the provision of 28-day updates to crime victims, since the previous review of this at an accountability board.

He was assured that this was as a result of an improvement in processes and leadership. This is particularly relevant as it is well evidenced that being kept informed is one of the key drivers in overall victim satisfaction.

The Commissioner was satisfied at this time with the processes in place to ensure victims were aware that a crime had been recorded and assured that audits demonstrate a very high compliance level with this. This is particularly pertinent as the requirement to send every victim a letter was resource intensive and will disappear later this year when the new enhanced victims code commences,

The Commissioner stressed the importance to him of proper dialogue with and support for victims. He questioned the Chief Constable on the readiness of the Force to rollout the newly enhanced VCOP later this year and was assured that there was in place an effective plan to do so.

 

4. Response times and visibility

  • The Chief Constable set several Force priority areas for 2020/2021.
  • These included priorities and targets relating to response times for attendance at Grade 1 and 2 incidents, as well as visibility outside police stations for Neighbourhood Policing Teams.
  • The Force had reported in the performance update in November 2020 that these were not being met and a plan was being developed to rectify this situation.
  • The Commissioner requests a report that demonstrates what the causal factors for this were, articulates the agreed plan to resolve this and shows the current position and improvements that have been made since that time.
  • ACC James Andronov provided an overview.
  • In November 2020 the Force identified a decline in both visibility and response times across the county.
  • Police presence in the community creates a feeling of security and is a deterrent for opportunistic criminals.
  • Despite there being no recognised national target for visibility the Chief Constable’s ambition is to achieve 60% minimum visibility across both neighbourhood and response policing teams.
  • National targets are in place for Grade 1 and Grade 2 response times and the Force is performing significantly better than national targets for all incident grades and better than local targets for both Grade 1 Rural incidents, and Grade 2 incidents which represent the highest volume of demand.
  • There was a discussion about balancing visibility with the need to investigate crime and deal with vulnerability and the length of time it takes for an officer to be dispatched.
  • There was a discussion about officer safety, increased assaults and the current single crewing policy.
  • As we move through the roadmap out of lockdown this policy will be reviewed.
  • There was a discussion about hot key 7 – Enables officers complete paperwork or enquiries before becoming available for deployment to another job.
  • There has been a significant increase in the number of assaults against officers (+15%) however the severity of the level of assault has diminished
  • The Chief Constable has reinstated the Officer Safety Working Group which will meet at the end of March.
  • The Taser review is also due.
  • There was a discussion on the procurement of police vehicles and increased demand for vehicles (more offers and single crewing policy).
  • Lem Freezer has this in hand.
  • There was a discussion about changes in the Force Control Room which came into effect in December.
  • Oscar 1 and 2 roles have been replaced by a Force Incident Manager (FIM) who has strategic overview of the Force risk and demand and act as the initial Silver Commander for all dynamic incidents, all high-risk incidents and all major incidents.
  • To provide absolute clarity over the command structure the Force only has one nominated FIM at a time.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed his ambition for even higher levels of visibility but still some work to do to define what it means to be out of the police station. In addition, the current rates do not take into account the availability of the Ops teams (Dogs, Armed Response and the Road Crime Team).
  • As the Chief Constable takes the organisation forward, he will continue to cement the positive changes he has made whilst keeping the pressure on momentum.
  • The key is that officers understand why change is important and that they have the tools they need as well as the desire to do this.
  • Evolution rather than revolution

Assurance statement:

The Commissioner received a detailed briefing on the deep dive work that had been undertaken by the Force to better understand the reasons why response times and visibility have reduced in the previous briefing from late 2020.

The Commissioner was assured by the level of understanding that the Force had now on these issues and complemented the Force on this work.

The Commissioner was further reassured in relation to the positive improvements relating to response times and visibility of neighbourhood and response officers. The Commissioner requested consideration to be given by the Chief Constable as to what might be required to achieve a visibility level of 70% for these staff.

5. Complaints update

  • 1st February 2021 saw the first anniversary of the implementation of the new Police Complaints regime, following the Policing and Crime Act 2017.
  • As well as providing Police and Crime Commissioners with additional mandatory and optional responsibilities relating to the Police complaints system, this legislation delivered a strong focus on the learning opportunities that the complaints system provided to improve personal and professional behaviour and service delivery.
  • An additional mandatory requirement under the legislation was PCCs to have a specific responsibility for holding the Chief Constable to account for the handling of complaints.
  • The Commissioner requests a report from the Chief Constable that covers the following areas:
  • Reflective Practice and learning – The Act introduced the concept of reflective practice. The report should explain the processes in place to make staff aware of and utilise this process. It should cover the number of times that reflective practice has been used since 1st February 2020, the areas of performance that it has been utilised in and the changes to the way that service has been delivered as a result of its use and the learning harnessed as a result.
  • Reviews – The new legislation makes the local policing body the authority responsible for reviews of complaints falling within Schedule 3. The report should cover the changes that might have been made as a result of recommendations made by OPFCC and accepted by the Force, from reviews.
  • Timeliness – The report should outline the average times of completion and resolution of complaints dealt with by the Force. It should also provide a commentary on any that are longer than one year with an explanation for this. It would also be useful to receive a breakdown of the differences in this based on the demographics of complainants such as age, gender and ethnicity.
  • An update was provided by Sarah Peart.
  • This covered an overview of the new Police Conduct Regulations 2020 and Police Complaint and Misconduct Regulations 2020 which came into effect on 1st February 2020.
  • The modifications brought about one of the most significant changes to the way complaints and conduct matters are handled.
  • Moved from a blame culture to one of learning and reflection.
  • Low level complaints are now managed by the Commissioner’s office where the complainant is not happy with the Force’s response.
  • From 1st February 2020 to 31st January 2021 50% of complaints were service recovered. This is now around 70%.
  • There was a discussion on the use of Reflective Practice. Whilst it is still early days, those who have gone through the process have been appreciative. The early signs from supervisors suggests that this is a useful process.
  • This continues to be monitored and any additional learning will be fed back into the organisation.
  • There was a discussion on timeliness. A breakdown was provided on the average times of completion and resolution of complaints dealt with by the Force.
  • In terms of demographics, when complaints were broken down by age and gender there was no real differentiation. However, when comparing ethnicity, it was noted there was a difference in the timeliness of the management of these complaints.
  • It was agreed that DCC Nickless would examine this further.

Action – DCC Nickless to review if there is any evidence of disproportionality in complaints process and provide a proposal to resolve if this is found to be the case.

  • There are four investigations that will meet the 12-month threshold in February 2021 (the date that the complaint was recorded)
  • Three of these relate to the same incident and are sub-judice.
  • It is anticipated that that there will be an increase in cases that meet the 12-month threshold given the number of court delays with covid.
  • Overall, it was felt that reflective learning is a welcomed way to manage low level complaints and empowers supervisors to deal with matters themselves where appropriate. Given the young age of the workforce this also provides a more supportive environment which encourages young in-service officers to develop their skills and improve both their confidence and competence.
  • Emily Evans extended her thanks to Sarah for the positive working relationship that exists between the OPFCC Complaints team and PSD.
  • The Commissioner added he was genuinely pleased with the progress that had been made which helps to increase legitimacy and provide reassurance to the public.

Assurance Statement:

The Commissioner was pleased with the progress made in the first 12 months of the new complaints’ procedures.

The Commissioner and Chief Constable discussed whether there was any evidence of disproportionality in timeliness of management of complaints dependent upon ethnicity, the DCC was to examine this further.

The Commissioner while assured overall requested that improvements were sought to be made in timeliness of complaint investigation.

6. A.O.B

– No further business was raised.

 

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