Police Accountability Board Minutes 10 August 2021

1. Welcome and introductions


PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Helen King (HK)

Louise Sheridan (LS)


CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)

Sarah Crampton (SC)


Apologies were accepted from ACC Blatchly, ACC Pauline Sturman, and Stuart McCartney

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 outturn 2020/21

  • The Commissioner requests a report on the Northamptonshire Police financial outturn position for 2020/2021
  • The table in the Executive summary provided a breakdown of all departments and an underspend by the year end of £583k.
  • Carry forwards have been transferred from specific budget lines as agreed separately with the Chief Constable and will be held in earmarked reserves for use in 2021/22 as appropriate.

Police Pay

  • The full-year impact of higher numbers of leavers at the end of 2019/20, more than expected dropouts from cohorts earlier in the year and a higher than anticipated number of leavers in 2021 have been the main cause of officer savings over the year.
  • Other adjustments have been made due to the change in the treatment of EMSOU SOC officers and additional income from the apprenticeship levy.


  • The year started with an over-establishment, but higher attrition rates coupled with a number of new-in-service recruits and changes in working hours created an underspend for the year.
  • A new cohort of PCSO’s are due to start in October to bring up numbers to expected levels.


  • The minor overspend in pensions is mostly injury related and relates to cases that originated several years ago.
  • There was a discussion about the Police 30+ scheme which is designed to assist police forces in the retention of operational officers with valuable skills and experience, who otherwise would retire having accrued maximum pension benefits.
  • With more people leaving the service than ever before, Police Chiefs have raised their concerns with government to try and keep the scheme in place to ease possible recruitment shortfalls and to help retain much needed skills and experience in the service.

Local policing

  • Tighter control and accountability have driven down the cost of overtime in addition to a reduction in usual operational activity (no night-time economy) and an increase in officers (new recruits) in Response.

Specials and volunteers

  • There has been a large underspend on staff costs and costs directly attributable to specials and their recruitment and training.
  • The Commissioner was interested in the number of Special constables and asked for an update on establishment, how much they are contributing along with any plans to increase the number of Special constabulary officers.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed Supt. Chris Hillery is currently reviewing and will present his recommendations at the next strategic planning meeting.
  • Also looking to reinvigorate the employer supported policing scheme along with a targeted recruitment campaign.
  • The cost to the Force is £4.60 per hour so Specials are not a free resource.

ACTION – PF to put a request for a paper relating to Specials and volunteers on a future accountability board agenda

Public protection and Commissioning

  • There was a discussion about the Mitie Care and Custody contract. The Commissioner is keen to see that the outsourcing arrangement is indeed freeing up police officer time from duties such as ‘constant observations’.
  • The Chief Constable advised Mitie has had some recent staffing issues and ACC Blatchly is reviewing to make sure the Force receive contract credits when service level agreements are not met.
  • There was a discussion about evidential property.
  • The Commissioner wanted to know what had been done to reduce back log of clearing evidential exhibits.
  • DCC Nickless advised that a Link officer has been appointed for each department and good progress has been made.
  • DCC Nickless invited the Commissioner to go and Commissioner to visit the team.
  • HK confirmed that this is an area of Internal Review in 2021/22 and this will give the Commissioner and the Chief Constable some assurance as to how the processes have been taken forward or whether further work is required.

Action – LS to arrange for the Commissioner to visit the Evidential property team

  • There was a discussion about an overspend for legal expenses.
  • The Commissioner asked for an up-to-date briefing for all claims.
  • There has been an overspend in Central operations, mainly due to officer overtime, an uplift in ARV work, ammunition costs, dog purchases and kennelling/vet costs.
  • There has been a significant underspend in the Control room due to vacancies in recruitment and staff attrition. (some joining the police)
  • Discussion continued in respect of Enabling Departments, HR, Finance, Estates and facilities, Transport, MFSS, Corporate services, Operational support & contingency, Central budgets and Collaboration units.
  • All were taken as read.


  • There was a discussion about overtime and the agreement that there would be a reduction in overtime spend.
  • Whilst the table showed that less money had been spent on overtime this year it was not clear how this reduction compared with the year before.

Action – VA to provide comparable overtime data for the Commissioner to review.


  • A detailed budget for the 2020/21 Capital Expenditure was provided in Annex 2 of the report. This included slippage on 2019/20 projects.
  • As previously advised, a significant majority of the capital expenditure was incurred in the final quarter of the financial year and, as expected, the final costs of some projects will be accounted for in 2021/22 where delivery of goods falls in April.
  • There was a discussion about upgrades to NICHE and Cloud technology.
  • The Commissioner is keen that work is undertaken to understand and fully realise the benefits of this.
  • Opportunity to look across all of the programmes to see if can do sequencing in a better way.
  • Also look at data quality.

Action – DCC Nickless to speak to Paul Bullen for update on the various Enabling strategies (Estates, IT, Digital and Vehicles and Operational equipment) and then update commissioner. What external support can get to maximise all the various plans are correctly sequenced for maximum benefit.

  • There was a discussion about the next Spending Review (SR)
  • The Commissioner advised that he is hopeful of a 3-year settlement next year but does not yet have that assurance from the Home Office.

Treasury management paper.

  • Taken as read.and accepted.`
  • The Commissioner is comfortable with treasury management report and is content with the healthy blend of investments; not prepared to increase risk for what would be a very small benefit.

 Assurance statement:

 Budget outturn report

 The Commissioner received this paper and thanked the Chief Constable for the ongoing improvements made since his appointment in financial management.

 He noted that there had been as planned a reduction in overtime spend but asked whether this was in line with agreed targets and requested further details on this.

 He questioned whether there was any opportunity to look to invest to save by bringing in temporary staff to assist in delivery of parts of the capital investment plan, in areas that might make the Force more efficient or effective.

 He was assured that the management and oversight of the budget provided to the Force was working effectively.

 Treasury Management outturn report

 The Commissioner noted this paper and was reassured that appropriate safeguards were in place with regards to Treasury management and that the Force was compliant with CIPFA guidance.

 He noted the relatively low level of return on investments but recognised that this was in part due to the economic climate and the need to be prudent with public money.


4. Force Strategic priorities

  • The Chief Constable has adopted a suite of performance measures and targets relating to Force Strategic priorities. (Matters of Priority).
  • The Commissioner requests a presentation/report that shows performance against these measures and targets from 1st April to now.
  • Sarah Crampton provided an overview of the report using iQuanta data to May 2021.
  • As expected, there has been an increase in overall recorded crime, but the Force continue to see a reduction in the number of victims of crime.
  • The Force is also seeing short term improvements in peer data for overall crime.
  • The overall direction of travel is positive in key areas. This is likely down to crime recording in a consistent manner and therefore a sustainable and stable picture.
  • The significant reduction in thefts is continuing along with good reductions in burglary.
  • Stalking and Harassment accounts for 16.5% of crime in the last year but the rate of increase continues to slow.
  • There has been an upturn in Secondary investigations which, if this continues, will place more demand on officers, particularly in Response. This is currently under review to make sure recording appropriately and teams are adequately resourced to have the capacity to deal with prisoners and conduct quality investigations.


  • Returning to pre Covid levels with demand increasing as we go through the summer holidays.
  • ASB is a Force Priority so if an increase is seen this won’t necessarily be a bad thing, particularly as we continue to encourage the public to report ASB.
  • The Force is also conducting proactive patrols and spending more time in priority areas effectively creating more business for itself.
  • As a result, Northants should expect more incidents to be recorded and therefore increase against peers.
  • The public narrative for this will be important to provide reassurance.
  • There was a discussion about repeat victim rates and the demand they account for.
  • A new FCR/NPT process for resourcing ASB is being developed.

Knife crime

  • The Annual Data Return (ADR) for Knife crime show that offences continue to fall with June seeing the lowest recorded levels since May 2020.
  • Most offences involve possession and threat.
  • There has been an increase in Stop Search activity which is focussed on ‘taking knives off the street’.
  • The find rate for ‘bladed articles’ is increasing.
  • There has been a clear escalation in the involvement of young people under 18 in recent months. (more than 1 in 3 offences)
  • OP Sceptre campaign in the autumn in addition to targeted prevention and intervention work.
  • A lot of criminality starts at ASB level. Earlier intervention can prevent worsening behaviour but requires a multi-agency approach.
  • The Commissioner offered to convene a panel – this is a problem that the police can solve alone.

Action – SM to convene panel to discuss escalation of young people involved in carrying knives.


  • There was a discussion about how much knife crime is domestic versus street related.
  • Sarah Crampton confirmed 34% is in a domestic setting.
  • There was a discussion about Op Revive and Stop & Search.
  • Force data suggests that incidents in Northants do not marry national research that young people most carry a knife for protection
  • There is an opportunity to do more around education particularly with the scheduled visit of the Knife Angel next year.
  • The Force has recognised this and will rollout 6 weeks of 20-minute bitesize inputs to every primary and secondary school from September. (Delivered by teachers with a video from the police to address underlying root causes linked to the force’s analysis of knife crime in this county.
  • A new media campaign with also be launched in the autumn.

Domestic abuse

  • Nationally domestic incidents are increasing, and this is being mirrored in Northamptonshire.
  • The sustained focus on increasing arrest rates is working.
  • Seeing more lower harm rather than more serious domestic abuse
  • The force has increased the use of Out of Court Disposals with conditional cautions for lower level standard risk offences which are less likely to result in a charge
  • Standard risk makes up the majority of our victims cohort – opportunity here to do some relationship advice work to stop escalation.
  • There was a discussion about the 19% increase in harassment offences that were domestic related last year.
  • There was a discussion about the Adult Protection Team – now much better at managing cases and deciding which ones to divert to CID.


  • The Force has had some significant resourcing issues during June including increased sickness, highest levels of Covid-19 self-isolation and staffing regularly below minimum levels.
  • Crime workloads continue to increase for Response Teams on both LPA’s
  • Officers are spending more time at scene driven by exceptional levels of Missing Person demand.
  • Corporate Services are currently reviewing to ensure that Response is adequately staffed for demand profile. (Complete by October)


  • Drug trafficking: Steadily increasing demand which correlates to sustained levels of proactive policing.
  • Firearms: Highest number of recoveries in 3yrs, mainly driven in increases in ammunition, other firearms and pistols.
  • The Commissioner requested further information – interested to know the number illegal weapons recovered versus those handed-in.

Action – SC to provide breakdown of firearm recoveries.

  • Modern slavery: more campaigns and officers better at identifying. Northants has also seen one of the first Modern Slavery convictions in the country this month
  • Fraud: Demand gradually reducing in-line with national trend with a continued decrease in the length of time it takes to investigate tier 4 offences. (Tier 4 Fraud Team set up in October 2020)
  • Repeat victimisation: A slight increase compared to baseline – national trend with most being internet led.
  • The OPFCC is funding a series of events for people who are vulnerable to online fraud. Working with carers and care home workers rather than the elderly person. Plan is to train 50 care workers to spot strange/suspicious behaviour and report it.


  • Child safeguarding: S46 Police Protection has continued to remain high. Reviewed internally daily but little partnership data as to how children and families are being supported to avoid repeat incidents.
  • Mental health demand is stabilising. (6% of all incidents)
  • Work is being done to ensure mental health incidents are flagged correctly in FCR to ensure we have a better understanding of the demand and that the most appropriate response is provided.
  • S136 usage has increased (highest since summer 2020) with all Forces reporting a significant increasing trend.
  • Northamptonshire saw levels at nearly double 2019 which shows the pressure being placed on policing.
  • With nearly 50% of all subjects of S136 being known to previously been detained under the power, managing the repeat demand as a partnership is a necessity.
  • Missing people: There has been a significant increase in people being reported as missing and is now at pre pandemic levels.
  • There has been a continuously high volume of MISPERs who are children (two in every three missing persons are children).
  • Missing children are often graded as high risk and are therefore very resource intensive.
  • There has also been an increase in the number of adult MISPERs in June, four of which were sadly found deceased.
  • Attempted and successful suicides continue to be an issue in the county with self-harm and suicide being identified as a growing area of concern.


  • Whilst both Neighbourhoods and Response continue to remain below the target for time out of stations, Neighbourhoods have seen an improvement in recent months.
  • PCSO’s continue to be above the 65% target
  • Time in priority areas saw a strong improvement in Wellingborough linked to Op Revive action.
  • The uplift in Neighbourhood officers should correlate with further improvements in Priority areas along with the use of Hot Keys to denote when an officer is prisoner handling or on refreshments. (dealing with prisoners is not classed as visibility)
  • There was a discussion about other issues which impact on visibility, particularly in Response.
  • The Chief Constable highlighted the implementation of The Director’s Guidance on Charging 6th Edition (DG6) where the enhanced requirements have inevitably led to more work at the outset for the officers in the case. (OIC); So much so that in Leicestershire the Chief Constable has stated that this has completely eroded the benefit of the Police Officer Uplift programme with officers spending increasing amounts of time preparing case files and manually redacting vast amounts of information.
  • Clear opportunity to review interpretation of DG6 so that officers complete the initial paperwork, but the file and redaction process is done elsewhere.

Action – SM to discuss net zero benefit with Rupert Matthews PCC for Leicestershire who has written to the Home Office.

CJ outcomes

  • Improvements locally in the last four months now starting to translate into positive movement against peers.
  • Holding own in terms of charges and seeing increased use of Conditional Cautions.
  • Two out of Three convictions are OOCDs
  • There was a discussion about the number of crimes which are positively resolved.
  • The Chief constable confirmed he is content that this will increase to 14% and that he has set a stretch target us 20%. (Has risen from 11.9% to 13.1% in the last quarter)
  • There was a discussion about evidential difficulties and a hypothesis that younger in-service officers are more likely to have ‘poor’ graded investigations. This was too simplistic and inclusive. Further work to be done by Corporate Services.
  • There was a discussion about the Initial Investigation Team (IIT).
  • The Chief Constable is conducting an end-to-end review. Opportunity to create a centre of excellence for aspiring detectives, increase the quality of investigations and reduce the amount of time wasted on re-work etc.

Exec summary

  • There was a discussion about overall satisfaction levels for various crime types as well as all crime.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed he is comfortable that the Force is making good progress and satisfaction rates continue to improve.
  • The Commissioner suggested that now was the right time to invite the Chief to update the Police and Crime Panel on progress.

Action – SM to arrange for the Chief Constable to update the Police and Crime Panel members on progress.

Assurance statement:

From the presentation provided, the Commissioner recognised and was assured that there were signs of continued improvement in the performance of the Force.

 He was particularly assured by the high and continually improving levels of satisfaction with victims of crime.

 The Commissioner expressed some concerns in relation to a recent decline in relation to response times. There was a discussion relating to this and he was assured by the Chief Constables explanation for the reasons for the decline and his plans to improve them.

 There was an acknowledgement that there was a renewed focus on the quality of service provided upon attendance at an incident, as opposed to just the speed of response.

 The Commissioner was assured in relation to the increased focus on quality of life issues such as Anti-Social Behaviour.

 Overall the Commissioner was assured that the Force continues to move in the right direction, concerning its performance, however he expressed the view, agreed by the Chief Constable that this was not universal across all areas and there was still significant improvement to be made


5. A.O.B

  • No further business was raised.