- Welcome and introductions
PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)
Nicci Marzec (NM)
Helen King (HK)
Paul Fell (PF)
Louise Sheridan (LS)
CC Nick Adderley (NA)
T/DCC Ivan Balhatchet (IB)
T/ACC Ash Tuckley (AT)
ACO Paul Bullen (PB)
Colleen Rattigan (CR)
Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)
SM welcomed everyone to the meeting.
No apologies were offered.
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 Draft budget proposals 2023/24
The Commissioner requests a report outlining the draft budget proposals and requirements for Northamptonshire Police for the period 2023/2024.
This should include:
- Proposals for required budget for 2023/2024
- Any requested investment proposals
- Any proposed or required efficiency or savings proposals and plans
- Revised realistic capital programme
- Revised MTFP
- Vaughan Ashcroft provided an overview of the 2023/24 Draft Force Budget requirement.
- The Police Financial Settlement for 2023/24 is expected to be released shortly before Christmas
- The current modelling is based on a £10 Precept increase although it was advised yesterday in a DLUHC Policy Paper that there will be flexibility to increase the Policing Precept by up to £15.
- If used, this would generate an additional funding of £1.3m
- The growth indication for policing announced over the next two years was set out in SR21 and updated in the settlement and is distributed by formula share. These have been factored into the MTFP and continue to be the best indication of predicted grant levels we have available.
- It is still assumed that the Uplift Grant will be built into base grant.
- The pay award for officers in September 2022 came with a commitment of grant funding. For Northamptonshire this is expected to be around £1.335m.
- This is not sufficient to cover the cost of applying the pay award, and no additional provision is expected to be made for any element of the police staff award.
- VA confirmed that a zero-based budgeting approach has been taken to calculate the majority of budgets and all budget holders have been fully consulted to identify savings, pressures and demand/contractual changes.
- High levels of scrutiny ensure that the draft budget is as accurate as possible.
- The draft budget requirement for the Chief Constable for 2023/24 is £160.756m this is reduced to £159.864m after previously agreed Reserves transfers have taken place.
- There was a discussion on inflationary pressures and a table was provided with a breakdown of these along with an indication of key assumptions.
- A further breakdown was provided on non-inflationary pressures which include National Charges, Audit fees and Airwave charges.
- On External Audit costs, HK pointed out that these have increased by 150%. The figure quoted in this budget is just for Police. The OPFCC and audit costs are separate and built into the OPFCC budgets.
- The additional cost associated with the 2 extra bank holidays for the Kings Coronation and additional Good Friday falling in-year have been included
- There was a discussion about the additional vetting posts that were previously agreed and are included at a cost of £59k. These will provide an end-to-end process along with opportunities to streamline recruitment, reduce delays and help with attrition.
- Other approved increases relating to Records Management FTC posts, Specials federation Membership, Regional collaborations were also discussed.
- In 2022/23 the Force was set a cash savings target of £376k and an overall efficiency savings target of £1.43m
- Good progress has been made and both have been met.
- There was a discussion about the 1.25% Social Care Levy and whether this was cost avoidance rather than an actual saving.
- VA advised that it had to be accounted for somewhere but accepted that the large amount of £1.194m inflated the amount the Force actually saved
- VA advised that the Police Staff Pension scheme is performing well resulting in a 0.5% reduction on employer rates at the triennial valuation which both S151 officers support.
- In addition to the cashable savings discussed, VA advised that there has been good progress in achieving efficiency savings, particularly in relation to Commercial and D&T activity.
- The Commercial team have delivered £437k of savings and D&T have delivered £498k.
- In Transport, savings have been achieved which have allowed the Force to absorb over £500k costs of the new Road Crime Team vehicles within the existing fleet programme and with no requirement to add additional capital expenditure requirements.
- The ‘budgeting for the future’ exercise which replaced previous OBB activity has resulted in over 100 areas for consideration by Chief Officers which will be reviewed in 2023. Some of these will be unpalatable, but it is important to capture a suite of options at all levels to consider in light of significant financial uncertainty.
- On Police Officer numbers, throughout 2022/23 the Force re-evaluated attrition levels and added additional cohorts of recruits to provide a higher degree of certainty that will hit the 1500 target, by March 2023.
- The PCSO budget is based on a base establishment of 81 FTEs and 12 sponsorship-funded posts. Due to a shortfall in establishment, it is expected that there will be £599k transferred to earmarked reserves as a result of PCSO underspends in 2022/23.
- The Commissioner asked for an update on Records Management and progress made with the additional funding provided this year.
- PB confirmed that a team have been recruited but have not yet started.
- There was a discussion on whether a sufficient budget for the FIS conversion costs had been allocated.
- It was agreed that PF would look out the original business case.
Action – PF to find the original business case for Back records management clearance.
- There was a discussion on inflation and the impact this is having on the draft budget.
- VA advised that this is under constant review.
- If inflationary pressure starts to ease the service will have ideas of they what might invest in next.
- The Commissioner confirmed that he is always keen to invest in things that will create efficiencies and generate benefit in the longer term and in particular, in prevention activities which will create less demand in the future.
- There was a discussion about the Force Control Room (FCR). The Commissioner reiterated the agreed ambition for Fire and Police of a joint Control Room.
- There was a discussion on cost modelling. There is a HMIC document to show that the Force have sufficient plans in place to manage and contain costs.
The Commissioner welcomed the transparency and thoroughness of the paper and the investment proposals presented to him and thanked all those that had been involved in its production, commending that detailed background work that had been undertaken and that in his view the proposals and work was the best undertaken since he had taken up the role.
He fully accepted that albeit best professional estimates had been used, and whilst it was hoped these would be prudent, the paper had been written ahead of the final grant settlement. He acknowledged that there would be some areas due to unavoidable pressures and where possible to do so, he would support the principal of assisting with these from reserves, however he stressed that there would need to be a review of the initial proposals post the announcement of the grant settlement and ahead of the January accountability board meeting, to ensure that he was in a position to agree a balanced budget at that meeting.
Priority Investment 1 Occupational Health and Broader Wellbeing
Clinical supervision and broader wellbeing.
- As part of the HMICFRS review work, it has been identified that there is a gap around wellbeing and supervision for officers and staff working in high harm areas of business. The recommendation is to ‘pump prime’ reasonable clinical supervision support and utilise existing providers to deliver 6 weekly 1-2-1 sessions from 1 January 2023 to the end of the year.
Decision: Investment proposal agreed.
- A full review of the current service has been undertaken, to better understand the quality of the existing offer and further engage with stakeholders to understand requirements, identify areas for improvement and gaps in the current provision.
- The review has highlighted gaps in the existing provision and opportunities for innovative investment.
- A healthy culture is at the heart of the Chief Constable’s 5-year vision and ensuring a healthy workforce is imperative to protect and future proof the organisation.
- Consideration has been given to bringing the service in-house but that would be more expensive.
- There is also an opportunity when the OH contracts for NFRS conclude to use the same provider and bring further efficiencies.
- The Commissioner stated that he would like to see more ambition in the business case on the benefits the new OH service will bring such as more deployable officers to serve the public particularly as this is a £410k increase on the existing provision.
- Keeping people in workplace is key; Better use/deployability of restricted officers and supporting those who are off sick to return sooner.
Decision: Investment proposal agreed in principle with a discussion to be had on whether to fund from reserves. Case requires some work to identify what the anticipate business benefit outcomes might be and a plan as to how this service can generate income. This income generation needs to be considered as part of the future MTFP.
Priority Investment 2: PVP uplift
- The current PVP leadership team consists of a Det Supt, three DCIs and seven DIs.
- Partnership meetings and strategic processes significantly reduce the DCIs and Dis ability to perform their core roles and properly lead on some of the most serious investigations. In addition, there are a number of high-risk processes sitting in different areas of the organisation that are inefficiently resources.
- 12 police constable positions will be allocated from uplift
- The purpose of this investment bid is to seek base budget investment for the salary difference between constable and other ranks, for the 12 posts allocated to this from uplift numbers.
- The Commissioner sought assurance that the additional constable posts would not have a detrimental effect on Response or NPT, and was assured that this was the case, that there would be adverse effect as PB made the point that these 12 posts were at this time unallocated.
- The Chief Constable confirmed short term investment has brought grip and oversight that was required and has had a significant improvement. He has looked at best practice in similar Forces and also considered the Poliscope and demand analysis.
- This investment directly aligns to the top risk (PVP) as identified in the 2022 FMS and is also linked to HMIC evidence base to support the ask.
Decision: In principle approve with agreement to fund for 12 months to help the Force get up and running then look to fund from own envelope after that.
- It was agreed that HK will work with VA on numbers.
- The Chief Constable expressed his gratitude that the Commissioner has offered to fund this important uplift and underwrite as appropriate from reserves.
Priority Investment 3: SCIU uplift
- The SCIU is experiencing high volumes of fatal road traffic accidents which is placing unsustainable demand.
- An uplift in FCIs earlier in the year has provided new recruits who are beginning their training.
- In addition, a substantial investment in roads policing was agreed last year and is currently being implemented.
- Wider initiatives are underway to better educate road users but, in the meantime, demand continues to outstrip capacity in this critical area of business.
- There was a debate about the additional cost (8 in total). Difference is £24k, which is the difference in salary between a PC and PS.
- The Commissioner approved the bid but with one important condition that T/ACC Tuckley discuss with colleagues in Fire what more can be done with regards to joint working, concerning road safety, giving an example of an outstanding video that Derbyshire police and Fire produced.
- AT agreed to do this.
- There was a discussion about the additional burden of work from regulatory oversight (over 50% of week looking at regulatory conditions rather than doing SCIU work).
- PF suggested that this is something to watch and write to the Minister if required.
- On the point of Comms, the Chief Constable confirmed that Danielle Murphy will be doing more social posts around speed awareness.
- The Chief Constable also commented that it is likely that the current number of fatalities (37) is likely to exceed 40 by the end of March so this is a really important investment.
Decision: Investment proposal agreed.
Priority Investment 4: Drone capability
- A review of the existing Drone Programme identified several opportunities.
- Currently, Pilots are poorly spread and not maintaining their CPD/required flying hours to comply with Operational Authority from the CAA.
- The current fleet of drones is outdated and frequently unavailable.
- The cost of deploying National Police Air Service (NPAS) is £3k per flight.
- The additional investment if approved will provide 24/7, 365 days a year service which provides benefit to the public, in particular the potential to locate missing persons and outstanding subjects promptly.
- This is a modest cost in comparison to the use of NPAS
- Other reginal Forces are also making significant investments in Drones.
- The Chief Constable confirmed that he is a huge fan of drones and that they are absolutely without question the future.
- There was a discussion about the previous Drone scheme (pilot investment of 2 drones). The Chief Constable increased this to 6 mid-trial.
- Accepting that these had added value, PF pointed out that the evaluation of this pilot was never received despite a number of requests. If this investment is approved, what assurance could the Force give that the benefits of the Drone replacement programme would be properly tracked and formally evaluated.
- AT provided assurance that this would happen, and the Force would be able to demonstrate the benefits of the investment.
- Robust management will be in place and discussions are taking place with the Head of Transport and Logistics for the direct drone fleet management to come under his portfolio.
- The Commissioner advised that he was supportive of the investment as long as the business benefits from both the pilot case and this new case are written down and include a cost benefit analysis of rotary versus drone.
- He also requested that AT works with colleagues in Fire who also have drones to look at how they can work closer together, particularly when searching for vulnerable missing people.
- HK asked if the business case includes the Capital financing cost of the investment. VA advised that the proposal assumed they would be met by RCCO or reserves thus negating the need for CFC.
- HK also asked whether insurance and all other costs were included and VA assured that there was sufficient included in existing budgets and the costing proposal for all associated costs and that no further funding would be required than was set out in the proposal.
ACTION AT to prepare a set of benefits to be achieved from this investment to include this current proposal and those that were agreed as a part of the initial trial investment.
Priority Investment 5: Neighbourhood Alert – Enhanced Survey Tools
- PF and AT have previously discussed this investment into enhanced survey tools which will enable increased engagement with local communities and help the Force to better understand the demographics, local priorities and levels of trust and confidence.
- PF has already agreed to fund this investment from within his budget and contracts are being progressed ready to go live in January.
Decision: Approved and already built into PF’s OPFCC budget.
Priority Investment 6: Rapid Video Response
- In the 2021 PEEL Inspection, Northamptonshire Police received an AFI to ‘maximise its opportunities to engage with and obtain feedback from victims to drive service improvements’.
- A Rapid Video Response (RVR) would improve the service provided to both victims and witnesses and create efficiencies in both resolutions and triage deployment.
- 19 other Forces are successfully using RVR and showing benefits as a result. This includes increases in arrets rates for DA.
- There was a discussion that Northants already has one of the highest DA arrest rates nationally so it may not see the dramatic improvements that other Forces have seen.
- The investment was agreed subject to a licence being procured to cover both Police and Fire. (Unlikely to get 1 licence but 2 licences at a discount).
- There was a discussion about whether RVR will be primarily used for reassurance and customer satisfaction improvements or will there be an element of evidential gathering.
- If it is evidential, PF suggested that there might be additional cost implications for the storage of the data.
- AT agreed to look at this.
- The Chief Constable expressed his gratitude to CR and VA for the work they had done on the Investment proposals.
- The Commissioner echoed this agreeing that the standard of report writing and professionalism in how they were presented was very high.
4 Vetting, misogyny, and misconduct report
During the first week of November 2022 HMICFRS published it’s report:
“An inspection of vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service”
This inspection report contained both worrying and disturbing findings and contained a total of 43 recommendations and a number of areas for improvement (AFI).
The Commissioner has already expressed his concern at the findings of this national report.
He requires a report from the Chief Constable which outlines his initial considerations of this national inspection report, his view on how this reflects the culture and position in Northamptonshire Police, the actions that he has taken so far since the publication of the report and in relation to the recommendations that relate to Chief Constables, whether he accepts these recommendations, the work underway to implement them, the timescales for this and the processes and governance in place to implement and ensure that they become effective business as usual for the organisation.
- T/DCC Balhatchet provided an overview.
- Prior to the publication of the HMICFRS report Northamptonshire police were already scoping how to implement a robust response to similar concerns published by Baroness Casey’s review and the string of high-profile cases that were doing great harm to public trust and confidence.
- A new team lead by a Detective Chief Inspector has been set up to examine any issues in relation to misconduct or criminality to ensure that they are being dealt with effectively.
- In completing this work the team will ensure that the recommendations within the HMICFRS report are discharged.
- Some of the concerns raised in the report have already been addressed to some degree by existing strands of work.
- The Domestic Abuse Investigation Unit (DAIU) have recently reviewed existing Force processes regarding police perpetrated domestic violence
- The Force is also looking at best practice and proactivity on misconduct, corruption and drug testing and taking an evidenced based approach on how to tackle misogamy
- The Commissioner asked if victims of police perpetrated DA are being referred to Voice for support.
- DCC Balhatchet was not able to confirm this was the case. He explained that the two systems are not as joined up as they could be but this is being reviewed to make sure have best systems for recording and monitoring are in place.
- The Commissioner asked the Chief Constable if he accepted all of the recommendations in the HMICFRS report.
- The Chief Constable confirmed that he did.
- The Commissioner then asked if the Chief Constable saw any barriers in completing the HMICFRS recommendations.
- The Chief Constable confirmed that work was already underway before the national report was published and that he is confident that T/DCC Balhatchet has the right team in place to implement and ensure that this becomes effective business as usual for the organisation. The Chief Constable stated that he saw no barriers in this.
- At present the team is made up of 2.5 members of staff with a planned uplift of two by the new year to ensure that the work can be conducted diligently and expeditiously.
- The Chief Constable confirmed the team are also linked into the Cultural Change team.
The Commissioner had requested a formal update on the recently published HMICFRS thematic (not a report in relation to Northamptonshire Police) report into these matters, which contained some disturbing details.
The Chief Constable presented a paper on how the matters identified and reported through this inspection had been actioned and progress since its publication in November 2022.
The Commissioner was sufficiently assured at this time that the Chief Constable accepted all recommendations and that he had reported to him that he was confident that all of these could be implemented, with no barriers in the required timescales.
He was assured that the Force response had been robust, was well led and provided some sustainability in implementation.
He informed the Chief Constable that he would be seeking a further formal update on progress ahead of the agreed implementation dates for findings and recommendations.
- No further business was raised.