Police Accountability Board Minutes 13 July 2021

1. Welcome and introductions



PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Megan Roberts (MR)



Apologies were accepted from ACC Blatchly, ACC Pauline Sturman, Helen King 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. Stalking and Harassment

  • The Commissioner is concerned about the increase in reported cases of stalking and harassment across Northamptonshire. He is aware from previous updates that many of these might be in relation to the recording of secondary crimes associated with domestic abuse victims.
  • The Commissioner however would like a report that outlines the levels of recorded stalking and harassment crime over the last three years, demonstrating any trends in numbers and victimology.
  • The Commissioner requests the understanding of the Force in relation to what proportion of this relates to domestic incidents or otherwise.
  • The Commissioner also wishes the report to articulate the understanding that the Force has in relation to the subject that would allow for earlier interventions to reduce the opportunities for escalation to additional or more serious offences.
  • DCC Nickless provided an update.
  • There has been a 64.5% increase in the volume of stalking and harassment offences recorded within Northamptonshire in 2020/2021. (144% higher than in 2018/2019).
  • This is mainly due to the changes in the Home Office crime recording rules which, from April 2019, required additional behavioural offences to be recorded in addition to other crimes. (Secondary offences)
  • It is important to note, that following the changes to recording rules, this increased trend has been reflected nationally.
  • In relation to Domestic Abuse, stalking and harassment offences have decreased by 5.1% with more offences being linked to and driven by social media activity and lower level offending since Covid-19 lockdown restrictions commenced.
  • Harassment and Malicious communications increased by 40.9% and 46.1% respectively in the past 12 months.
  • Stalking offences have seen a significant increase (+261%) however a dip sample of 109 cases revealed that 40% of the cases reviewed the offence should have been recorded as harassment rather than stalking.
  • The Force is rolling out further training and has an action plan to ensure that its response to stalking and harassment is compliant with Authorised Professional Practice as outlined by the College of Policing.
  • It is also working with staff in the Force Control Room to help ensure crimes are recorded correctly in first instance.
  • Victimology has been consistent in the past two years: 65% of victims are female and 33% are male; with young adults (under the age of 35) accounting for 57% of all victims.
  • Positive outcome rates for stalking is 9% against a national average of 5.6%
  • The Force operates a Serial Perpetrator Programme in relation to a cohort of a ‘top ten’ Domestic Abuse offenders.
  • It also operates Project PIPA (Preventing Intimate Partner Abuse) which looks to intervene early and prevent offending from escalating.
  • The Force is looking at the possibility of extending the use of out of court disposals (OOCD) to address the behaviour of Stalking perpetrators. (Already used successfully with serial DA offenders)
  • Also looking at what preventative stuff that can be done with the significant group aged between 17 and 44 age range. (76.6%)
  • This is part of a three-fold piece of work and links to what the Force know are its key issues; knife crime, stalking & harassment and public order.
  • The Chief Constable has tasked ACC Blatchly to look at outcomes; seeing an increase in the use of OOCDs in use for first time – a paper on this will come to a future Accountability Board.
  • By identifying Stalking offences, safeguarding the victim and identifying the offender with a view to intervening early to prevent escalation it is hoped that more serious offences will be prevented.
  • It was noted that Supt Dave Lawson is doing some really good work in driving improvements in Prevention.
  • An Adult Protection Team is being set up. This will have a positive impact once in place.
  • The Commissioner asked if there are any other approaches to repeat offenders and that the Force should consider.
  • DCC Nickless is reviewing and will come back.
  • There was a discussion about the evaluation of Project PIPA.
  • Paul fell advised that he is expecting data from the Force this week which will be passed to Tom Smith in the OPFCC to evaluate.
  • Should also have the comparative data within the next 10 days as want evidence that comparative data is good.

Assurance statement:

The Commissioner was assured from the report that the force had a sense of understanding of these issues and that the recording of these matters showed high levels of integrity.  

The Commissioner asked what actions the force were undertaking to identify the causes of the potential over recording of these offences, and to tackle the risks associated with threats being carried out in a domestic setting by those who commit stalking and harassment type offences that audit had potentially identified and was assured that there were actions in place to try to address this.

 He thanked the Chief Constable for the conciseness and clarity that the paper offered.

4. Internal Audits

  • The Commissioner requests a report that outlines the received internal audit reports from the internal audit inspection regime for 2020/2021.
  • The report should outline all recommendations made in these audits, whether these have been accepted or not, provide an update on any actions or recommendations that have been completed and where not completed, outline the timescales for their completion.
  • A summary of the Internal Audit Recommendations Report provided the current status of all open and closed audit actions.
  • Megan Roberts, Strategic Development, Risk and Business Continuity Advisor explained that the Force Assurance Board has oversight of all outstanding audit actions and directs the activities required to complete any actions that have passed their implementation date.
  • Progress is then assessed by the Joint Independent Audit Committee.
  • In 2020/21 eight audits were completed with 28 recommendations. 16 of these have not yet reached their implementation date and are ongoing.
  • There was a discussion about the Health and Safety audit where there is an overdue action to determine where standalone policies and procedures are required.
  • Megan advised that significant progress has been made and most have now been drafted. These will be reviewed at the H&S Committee in August.
  • The Commissioner confirmed he is content that this action remains on amber.
  • There was a discussion about Fleet management.
  • Many of the recommendations will be resolved with telematics which should be operational by October 2021. The data provided will help on use of vehicles and omissions etc.
  • The Commissioner was content with progress in the Procurement Audit.
  • There was a discussion about the IT Security Audit. The ICO have confirmed that they won’t be returning in September and have received sufficient assurances to allow them to close the audit with 63% of the actions agreed as completed.
  • DCC Nickless advised that he continues to monitor the 93 original recommendations. A full formal review will be undertaken in September.
  • The ICO action plan is monitored via the Corporate Risk Register and the Information Assurance Board.

Action – Paul Fell to discuss with DCC Nickless – Already doing external PEN test.

  • There was a discussion about Core financials which received a positive audit.
  • There was a discussion on transition from MFSS – Paul Bullen is currently reviewing our HR structure to ensure they are suitably staffed.
  • The Workforce planning audit was good with only a couple of recommendations which are now marked as complete.
  • There was a discussion about Performance Information versus Management Information in relation to EMSOU and a debate at EMSOU on the Enabling set up with Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
  • A Performance Manager has been recruited within EMSOU with a start date of 19th The post holder will manage the new performance system to provide better data and reports around demand and the management of resources.
  • Both the Chief Constable and the Commissioner remain frustrated with the lack of oversight in this regard.
  • It was agreed that the Commissioner would raise under AOB at the next PCC/CC Regional Board meeting on 20th July with support from the Chief Constable.
  • Both agree that the Investment we put into the collaboration is not matched by what we get out of it and the lack of a Performance framework makes it

difficult to extrapolate the value we get out of it.

Action – SM and NA to raise Performance framework under AOB at the next PCC/CC Regional Board

Assurance statement:

The Commissioner commented that this was the most succinct and focused report he has received on this subject and thanked those involved in its production.

The Commissioner was assured that Northamptonshire Police had in place effective processes and systems to manage and monitor recommendations made following internal audits.

He expressed some concerns in relation to the effectiveness of the monitoring processes relating to performance for collaborative units across the region and agreed with the Chief Constable to raise this at a forthcoming regional meeting to seek improvement.


5. A.O.B

  • No further business was raised.