Police Accountability Board Minutes 13 June 2023

Welcome and introductions



PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Paul Fell (PF)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Helen King (HK)

CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Ivan Balhatchet (IB)

Paul Bullen (PB)

D/C Supt Paul Rymarz (PR)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Sarah Crampton (SC)


SM welcomed everyone to the meeting.


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.


HMICFRS value for money profiles


The Commissioner requires a presentation from the Chief Constable of the latest version of the HMICFRS value for money profiles. He requests that this includes an overview of these, describes where Northamptonshire appears to be an outlier and allows for an informed discussion in relation to those areas


  • Sarah Crampton provided a report and gave an overview of the key headlines alongside local demand analysis and performance.
  • Value for money profiles are released annually and cover three areas; Resources, Workforce and Crime.
  • The VFM profile data, Performance and Demand assessment alongside the FMS are used to provide the Chief Constable with options to support future business cases and investment.
  • SC provided an overview of the journey in the last 10 years.
  • The total budget received in 2022/23 was 31% higher than in 2012/13.
  • Police officer numbers at their highest ever levels.
  • Total crime (12 months to June 2022) has increased but, by the smallest amount nationally and is below national and MSG peers per 1k population.
  • Population growth of 13.5% is double the national increase and the second highest in the East Midlands. (Market Harborough being the highest).
  • The amount of money spent on policing per head of population per year is £195.71
  • There was a discussion about the current funding formula. Northamptonshire’s funding from the government is in the lowest quartile with local taxpayers contributing significantly more.
  • Work continues to lobby the government for a fairer settlement for Northamptonshire.
  • Underfunded but utilisation of people and technology has outperformed these pressures.
  • There was a discussion about how the force spending has changed with more money now being allocated in public protection, operational support and roads policing.
  • On performance and crime overview – the Commissioner requested a further breakdown of the information provided on crime outcomes, specifically related to the number of crimes per officer where action taken as from the graph, this appears to have declined.
  • D Chief Supt. Paul Rymarz advised that this was due to changes in recording crime and the requirement to record secondary crimes.
  • Officers are doing the same amount of work but proportionately are not able to detect the same number of crimes.

Action – SC to provide some additional analysis on the number of crimes per officer along with crime types and outcome rates for the Commissioner.


  • On staffing, despite the success of the Officer Uplift programme, officer levels especially constable level are still well below peers per 1k but are increasing.
  • The Commissioner commented that despite the poor government funding model for Northants and the increase in population it was reassuring to see that the forces utilisation of its people has outperformed these pressures.
  • The Chief Constable added that the Enabling Services team have been exceptional given Occupational Health and HR challenges.
  • Officer sickness rates are getting much better.
  • There has been a notable increase in officers on maternity leave but that is to be expected given the in recent years the proportion of new recruits being women has increased.
  • There was a discussion about the cost of policing to the public and how resources are deployed.
  • Colleen confirmed that the FMS information will cover current and future demand and needs to be the driving force in future, for investment consideration.
  • The Commissioner commended the work of Sarah Crampton and her team for the overview and the work done.
  • Helen King also thanks Sarah adding that it was really positive to be able to look at the impact of investments and the difference it makes.

Assurance statement:


The Commissioner welcomed the presentation. There were discussions relating to the detail as contained within the VFM profiles. There were some areas where the Force was to be considered as an outlier, but the Commissioner was assured that where this is the case the reason for it is understood.


The Commissioner commended the work completed by Sarah Crampton’s team, to get the Force to the position where the data provided through this process was well understood and was used to inform future decisions relating to resourcing within the Force. The Commissioner described the data as very insightful and was assured about both the understanding and the use that the Force made of it.


Firearms and Explosives Licensing Unit


In September 2021 and February 2023, the Commissioner received reports and assurances from the Chief Constable relating to the removal of backlogs to the queues for firearms and shotgun licence grants and renewals. In the February 2023 report he was provided with progress and a target date of early April 2023 to complete this. He was also informed of a peer review of the unit that had been commissioned.


He requests a report that provides an update on the plans to remove backlogs by April 2023 and the presentation of the full findings of the peer review.


  • The Chief Constable started by stating that he needed to apologise for the fact that the targets to clear the backlogs in the timescales previously provided to the Commissioner had not been met.
  • He shared the Commissioners concerns and accepted that previous assurances on performance improvements had not progressed at the rate that they should have.
  • He gave his assurance that there is now sufficient understanding, focus and grip to make the improvements required.
  • The Commissioner stated that he had twice been given assurances on this matter; neither were delivered and asked for an explanation as to why this has happened, what action is being taken as a result and if the Chief Constable is now confident that processes and management arrangements are now in place to deal with the issues moving forward.
  • D/Chief Supt. Paul Rymarz conceded that the Commissioner should not have been given two previous assurances and apologised for that.
  • An explanation of the situation the FELU are currently in and what the ‘backlog’ or queues are, was provided.
  • There are various workflows which include new applications (Grants), renewals, other variation or transfer requests and temporary permits.
  • PR explained that this was an area of specialist knowledge and there had been a lack of systemic knowledge of this at a senior level but this was now being resolved with the interventions that were taking place.
  • Public safety is of paramount importance and whilst there are efficiencies that can speed up the processes, they are reliant on trained and experienced staff making risk-based decisions, all of which takes time.
  • Although customer service and processes have been poor, risk management decisions are fundamentally sound, a position that the force will not compromise.
  • Previous assurances have been given to the Commissioner with the best of intensions but without fully understanding the workflows and processes. This is no longer the case.
  • The force accepted that it should have suspended new grant applications during Covid. Other forces did so and used the opportunity to process more renewals, variations etc.
  • Staffing issues were discussed. The FELU are a small team, so vacancies have had a disproportionate effect.
  • Recruitment and retention of staff has also contributed to the lack of progress.
  • Addressing these issues is a fundamental part of the FELU recovery plan.
  • In March a peer review was conducted by the Firearms Licensing manager from Lincolnshire Police which is seen as one of the highest performing units across the country.
  • A number of recommendations have been provided including an online dedicated and bespoke operating system.
  • The introduction of this system was one of the major factors that drove Lincolnshire from being one of the worst performing units in the country to one of the best.
  • Recommendations from the peer review along with demand profiling, prioritisation plans and weight solutions will be submitted to the Chief Constable for consideration.
  • A Detective Inspector will be added to the team next week (W/C 19/6/23)
  • It is likely that additional investment into the FELU will be required to create a long-term sustainable model.
  • In the meantime, reassurance was given to the Commissioner that risk profiling within the department is very good. It was noted by both peer reviews that the risk-based decision making was positive and robust. This assists in keeping the public safe.
  • The Commissioner advised that he has little confidence in the short term, or until a plan is in place.
  • He confirmed he is open to additional investment and innovative ideas, particularly around utilising the rural crime team given their knowledge and relationships with the farming community.
  • There was a discussion about new regulations providing for at times GP letters to support applications. This is another factor in slowing down the process.
  • There was a discussion on the cost of licences and whether there was an opportunity to explore the cost of an additional charge for an enhanced service.
  • It was agreed that Paul Fell would draft a letter for the Commissioner to send to the Home Office about the variation of fees.

Action – PF to draft a letter to the HO about variation of fees


  • Whilst not completely reassured, the Commissioner felt that D/Chief Supt Rymarz had a better understanding and grip of the issues. He requested a verbal update on progress at the July Accountability Board.

Assurance Statement:

The Commissioner made it clear that he was unhappy that he had been provided assurances by the Chief Constable through this process on two previous occasions and neither had been delivered. He was frustrated that there appeared to have been little understanding or grip on the processes within this team. As a result he requires a further update at the next meeting from the Chief Constable.

 The Commissioner sought and was provided with assurance that there was now better understanding, with processes being put in place to resolve these matters.

 The Commissioner welcomed the fact that risk profiling was considered more important but made the point that this needed to be done, without any compromise to it, alongside the provision of a good level of customer service more generally.

 The Commissioner requested a verbal update at the July meeting on the progress of the implementation of recommendations and actions from the peer reviews and other findings.


Internal audit on reasonable adjustments


During March 2023 the Force received the draft results of an internal audit relating to reasonable adjustments for staff under the Equality Act. This audit at that time provided only limited assurance. Given the importance of this, the Commissioner requires a bespoke paper relating to this specific audit which outlines all findings, lists the recommendations, whether these are accepted by the Force and the action taken to remedy these findings and recommendations.


If they have not all been completed the paper should clearly identify why this is and the timescales for completion.


  • ACO Paul Bullen provided an overview
  • The recommendations form the internal audit have been accepted by the Force and the report provided outlined the actions being undertaken to improve assurance.
  • A HR Business Partner was already working with the HR Change Manager on reviewing the reasonable adjustment process following comments made within previous PEEL Inspection report where it was highlighted that the process needed updating.
  • There are nine recommendations which are due for completion by the end of September 2023.
  • It was noted that the internal audit identified some areas of improved practice.
  • The Commissioner asked if records for tailored reasonable adjustment assessments (TRAA) were now in place.
  • PB confirmed this action will be completed by the end of June.
  • On managerial response and action, the Commissioner asked why this was not compliant with the College of Policing guidance on best practice action.
  • PB confirmed that the process is now owned by the HR Change Manager and is now compliant.
  • The Commissioner was satisfied with the performance dashboard set out in the report and the work that is in progress.
  • He asked for a further assurance on completion of all actions by the end of September. This will be provided by recording an action and PB to confirm to PF ahead of that meeting.

ACTION – PB to provide assurances to PF ahead of the October accountability board that all actions are completed from the reasonable adjustments internal audit presented at the June accountability board meeting.


Assurance Statement:

 The Commissioner having received this paper relating to the responses put into place following this audit stated he was assured that the proper and appropriate governance had been put into place to resolve these identified issues.


Internal audit


The Commissioner requires a report that outlines the internal audits from 2022/23. The report should include the overall findings, any recommendations made and whether these are accepted by the Force. Where this is the case, the report should include the progress made in relation to these and include projected completion timescales where not completed.


  • ACO Paul Bullen provided an overview.
  • He confirmed that the majority of the actions have been completed on time.
  • Two actions remain outstanding from the 2021/22 Audits
  • PB confirmed that a IT health check (ITHC) is complete but the remedial action plan (RAP) is outstanding.
  • A vulnerability working group has been set up with priority given to the RAP which is currently showing as overdue.
  • On health and safety follow-up, the system change required has been completed and tested and is now live.
  • This action is recommended for closure and will be considered at the Force Assurance Board. All internal audits recommendations are formally signed off through this process.
  • From the 2022/23 audits there were 29 recommendations. Of those 23 recommendations remain ongoing but none are currently marked as overdue.
  • The Commissioner asked if the Chief Constable was confident that the outstanding actions from the most recent audits were progressing in line with their implementation timescales.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed that no one is currently flagging any issues with timescales.
  • The Commissioner confirmed that he is comfortable with the reasonable assurances that the Force will meet the timelines unless he is told otherwise.

Assurance statement:

This paper was submitted as part of the annual assurance check of the previous year’s internal audit process and inspections.

He was assured that proper governance arrangements were in place to receive, assess and action any internal audit recommendation

The Commissioner thanked the Chief Constable and ACO Paul Bullen, for the work undertaken on these processes alongside the previous Deputy Chief Constable.




  • No further business was raised.