Police Accountability Board Minutes 13 February 2024

Welcome and introductions.



PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Jonny Bugg (JB)

Paul Fell (PF)

Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

A/CC Ivan Balhatchet (IB)

ACC Tuckley (AT)

ACO Paul Bullen (PB)

Detective C/Supt Emma James (EJ)

Insp. Ross MacDonald (RMacD)


  • SM welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Apologies were accepted from Colleen Rattigan


Previous minutes and action log

Outstanding actions from the Action Log have been updated.


Retail crime action plan


In October 2023 the National Police Chiefs Council, launched a retail crime action plan. This document provided guidance to forces in relation to how they and retailers approached the issue of retail crime.


The Commissioner requires a report from the Chief Constable that provides him with information and assurances about how the Force is complying or working towards this action plan and guidance.


The report should outline where the Force is compliant with these guidelines and in any instance where it is not, the plan in place to ensure that this is the case, with timescales.


  • The report provided was taken as read, with ACC Tuckley providing additional commentary.
  • Shoplifting was previously a lower priority due to lack of resources ro sufficiently police it.
  • This approach was reviewed in February 2023 leading to the launch of Op Elegance in May 2023 which sees a dedicated retail crime team of 1 x sgt and 3 x PCs based within the IIT in partnership with Northamptonshire Business Crime Partnership.
  • The NBCP supports coordination of local retail crime and has two dedicated Retail Crime Evidence Gatherers.
  • Since the launch of Op Elegance there has been a significant increase of positive outcomes for shoplifting offences, taking the Force up to 6th nationally and 1st in the MSG in the last 3 month period.
  • The Commissioner commended the Force on this improvement.
  • There is also increased trust and confidence among the local retail community with better engagement.
  • Volumes of crime remains high some of which can be attributed to increased confidence in reporting incidents.
  • There was a discussion about the current approach versus the Force approach prior to the launch of Op Elegance.
  • ACC Tuckley confirmed that the appropriate THRIVE and risk assessments are always considered before deciding the most appropriate cause of action.
  • If it is considered to be a deployable incident, response officers will attend; If immediate attendance isn’t appropriate, the crime goes into IIT which is desk based.
  • OP Elegance officers will also look for patterns to identify potential suspects and build cases against retail crime offenders which has led to an increase in charges being pre-authorised.
  • Whilst LPA officers will be tasked with making the arrests, suspect interviews and case building admin will have already been completed.
  • Remands into custody are routinely sought, particularly for the most prolific offenders.
  • The Commissioner applauded the innovative approach by the Force to pre-build files and obtain charge pre-authorisation.
  • He asked for the Force to provide the number of packages are being put together and then passed to the LPAs for arrest.

Action – AT to provide the Commissioner with the number of packages being put together and passed to the LPAs for arrest and the number of them that result in that arrest.


  • The Commissioner asked if there were other innovative ways to tackle prolific offenders such as PSPOs and banning orders.
  • These options were then discussed at length including the effort required to obtain them and other agencies who can apply for them.
  • There was a discussion on robbery and a national debate on the classification of this offence.
  • This may lead to an increase in this crime type.
  • A/CC Balhatchet advised that one of the benefits of Northants achieving an outstanding grading in crime data recording is that it is sufficiently confident in its data integrity.
  • The Commissioner was interested to know the percentage of shop lifting offences where there is also an assault offence.
  • It is estimated that around 70% of robbery offences have an element of shoplifting linked to it.
  • The Commissioner asked where violence is used, is this reflected in the Forces deployment policy.
  • ACC Tuckley advised that it is and that he has commissioned some work to understand the Forces response/attendance to shoplifting offences and will provide and update.

Action – AT to provide an update on force attendance to shoplifting offences when report is available.


  • There was a discussion about recent crime statistics published by the Co-Op.
  • PF confirmed he has requested further information on the evidence base for this along with Northamptonshire data. (numbers to go with the percentages quoted)
  • The Commissioner advised that he had raised shoplifting occurrences at a recent Local Criminal Justice Board, citing cases where the Force had done an outstanding investigation, only for the CJS to impose little or no punishment.
  • An LPA Inspector has been invited to the next LCJB meeting to give a first-hand account.
  • There was a discussion about the use of conditional cautions and Out Of Court Disposals.
  • It was agreed that this would not be appropriate for prolific shoplifting offenders.
  • There was a discussion about a pilot Retail Crime & Restorative Justice programme recently launched by the OPCC in Sussex.
  • Karen Kirkwood is currently reviewing this.
  • There was a discussion about Retrospective Facial Recognition (RFR) and whether cases are being washed through PND.
  • The Commissioner confirmed that the business case for investment in RFR was approved at the December Accountability Board. He clarified that it was the Live Facial Recognition element that requires more work before it can be considered further.
  • DCS James advised that there is a gap for live facial recognition along with the potential to explore how some retailers are using it.
  • Having confirmed that RFR has been approved, the Commissioner asked what the barriers are to getting this technology quickly.
  • PB confirmed that as there is more than one supplier it will need to go through a full procurement process.
  • The Commissioner asked for clarification on the Forces Proportionate Investigation Policy and what it said about what would or would not be proportionate to investigate for shoplifting offences in terms of value, considering what was written in the report.
  • The A/Chief Constable confirmed setting a monetary threshold didn’t make any sese and agreed that it is removed.


Action – AT to remove the monetary threshold from the Force Proportionate Investigation Policy.


  • There was a discussion about CCTV evidence, how this is collected and in what format.
  • This was because the report suggested that some retailers do not submit CCTV evidence in a timely manner.
  • AT agreed to look into this.


Assurance statement:


The Commissioner was assured about the improvements that had been made in recent times. He sought assurances that appropriate attendance was considered by the Force, in cases where violence was used by the offender and also sought clarification on the Force deployment policy in these matters.

 He congratulated the Force on the increased detection rates for shoplifting and their innovation in relation to pre charge authorisation with the CPS. He questioned whether there could be wider use of facial recognition for images of unknown offenders and the Chief Constable assured him that this would take place.

 Overall, the Commissioner felt that while there was still work to do to meet all the requirements of the retail crime action plan, progress was positive.



HMICFRS report – How effective police forces are in the deployment of firearms.


In July 2023 His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services published its report entitled “How effective police forces are in the deployment of firearms”.


The Commissioner requires a brief report setting out whether the Chief Constable agrees and accepts the recommendations within this report and also what the progress is in relation to their implementation.


  • The report provided was taken as read, with ACC Tuckley providing additional commentary.
  • The Commissioner noted all of the recommendations that had passed a due date had been completed with the exception of one.
  • This remaining recommendation has not been completed on national basis, relating to systems and was not a Northamptonshire issue. In fact the concerns raised with what was proposed had been identified and raised by Northamptonshire Police.
  • .
  • While actions were in place the final sign off by the Chief Constable was still required and he confirmed the meeting to review and sign off this action has been scheduledfor this month.
  • In addition, he has regular meetings with Supt Helm to ensure compliance and raise any questions he may have.
  • There was a discussion about 24-hour rota cover.
  • The Force has a Specialist Tactical Firearms Commander (STFC) and is on track to identify a suitable candidate to become the Forces Specialist Strategic Firearms Commander (SSFC). In the meantime, regional cover is available.
  • There was a discussion about the current centrally funded ‘Airbox Track’ contract that was due to expire in August 2023.
  • Due to a number of issues transitioning to a locally funded SSAS framework, the contract has been extended to February 2025.
  • The A/Chief Constable confirmed Northants continue to monitor progress and the final implementation of Airbox SAS is now anticipated to be much sooner.
  • He is chasing the appropriate documentation.
  • PB advised that he is waiting for the Police Digital Service to issue the documentation.
  • The Commissioner agreed to take this up with PDS directly.

Action – SM to raise Airbox contracts with PDS.


  • There was a discussion about a recent multi-agency exercise at RAF Croughton and the positive learning that had come from it
  • The Commissioner asked to be invited to a future exercise particularly if it was a joint exercise with NFRS.

Action – If any future multi-agency exercises have been planned, AT to send the dates to LS


  • Overall, the Commissioner commented that this is a high-risk area of policing and he recognised the work that had been done to ensure Northants Police was compliant.
  • He also recognised that one of the issues being addressed at a national level, was originally raised as a risk by Northants.


Assurance Statement:


The Commissioner recognised this area as a high-risk area of policing. He was of the view that the Force response to this national thematic inspection had been positive and was assured that the actions required had been put into place.  Actions where due had been completed and for the few outstanding, the due date had not passed and were on track.

 He was also assured that this is an area subject to ongoing and regular scrutiny.

He particularly welcomed the fact that it was Northamptonshire Police who had identified an issue with the national solution to one recommendation so that it could be addressed.



No further business was raised