Welcome and introductions
PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)
Nicci Marzec (NM)
Paul Fell (PF)
Louise Sheridan (LS)
DCC Ivan Balhatchet (IB)
ACC Ash Tuckley
D/Chief Supt Paul Rymarz (PR)
Ian Bailey EMSOU (IBa)
D/Supt Rich Tompkins (RT)
Colleen Rattigan (CR)
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.
Forensic Hits Process
In May and November 2022, the Commissioner received reports from the Chief Constable in relation to the performance of EMSOU (FS) at crime scenes in the County.
Following the most recent of these it was agreed that the Force would undertake:
- An end-to-end review of the manner in which fingerprint and forensic hits were managed, with a view to making recommendations and amendments to make this more efficient and if possible, harness greater levels of detection
- Review the processes for CSI crime scene attendance for commercial burglary, to ascertain if improvements can be made to that process.
The Commissioner requires a report outlining the findings of these reviews, what actions have been undertaken as a result and the result of these from November 2022.
- D/Supt. Richard Tompkins provided an overview.
- For context, at the November Accountability Board, Ian Bailey and D/Supt Tompkins, gave an update on EMSOU forensics.
- It was agreed that the process of CSI’s attending scenes, in particular commercial burglaries was low in comparison to regional forces.
- A review would also look at the process for actioning forensic hits.
- A paper with details of the key findings, action taken, and the results was provided.
- Having read the paper, the Commissioner commended RT for his honesty adding that one of the briefs he has given the temporary Chief Constable is to look at how we strengthen the relationship with EMSOU
- RT confirmed the current process for actioning forensic hits is straightforward.
- Notifications are sent to both LPAs and the burglary team via an automated process which are timed, and date stamped in NICHE.
- Hits are then tasked out to the relevant OIC’s and their Sergeant’s, or the Crime Compliance team if there is no clear OIC.
- The process has recently been improved to ensure there is no single point of failure – everyone has access to the inbox and there is a process to ensure notifications are actioned if an investigator is absent for a protracted period.
- In addition, a Detective Inspector within each of the North and West CID teams has taken oversight of the follow up process. This includes challenging officers who have not replied to allocated tasks and dip sampling to ensure opportunities to arrest and detect crimes are being maximised.
- The Commissioner asked if the Force is satisfied that a positive forensic hit is treated and dealt with swiftly and robustly.
- D/Chief Supt. Paul Rymarz talked through some dip sampled cases to provide assurance.
- It is important that ownership remains with the OIC, Sergeant or Inspector otherwise we completely undermine the process of ownership and accountability, but reviews provide reassurance.
- The overall review of the process did highlight some cases where there was insufficient rigour, but a fix is now in place
- Time will tell if it makes a difference, but it is expected that there will be some improvements as a result of the changes that have now been implemented.
- The Commissioner asked why there was a difference in attendance rate in domestic versus commercial burglary.
- RT agreed that there is a marked disparity in commercial burglary attendance.
- There is an established process for home invasion burglaries within the FCR and the Force have been routinely visiting domestic burglaries for a long time.
- Performance and crime analysis for home invasion is in place on each LPA
- The process for commercial burglaries is less robust and RT has asked for some hot spotting work to be completed to help understand who is doing it and where the burglaries are occurring.
- The Commissioner was keen to support any initiatives that would support better outcomes in Commercial burglaries.
- Similar schemes are in place elsewhere, supported from POCA money.
- There was a discussion about Selecta DNA, data tagging and other covert property marking initiatives.
- Whilst marking commercial items would be a good and relatively straightforward idea, it relies on the items being checked when recovered.
- There was a discussion about the cases where there would have been a benefit in CSI attendance – Still missing a third of opportunities.
- IBa has completed a similar review in other Forces. If in doubt, the best option is to inform CSI and let them make the decision.
- Reviews are also being carried out on stolen vehicles and theft from vehicles.
- There was a discussion about the new process for booking CSIs and notifying them of all incidents that fit the criteria, allowing CSIs to make the decision whether or not there is value in attending.
- IBa talked the Commissioner through the THRIVE process explaining that in some cases (a walk-in burglary for example) there are relatively low opportunities, and a CSI may then decide not to attend.
- IBa confirmed he is comfortable with the second assessment process. If a CSI turns down the request to attend, they will record the reason and that is checked by a supervisor.
- There was a discussion about victim confidence and satisfaction if they have been told by FCR that CSI have been booked and then do not attend.
- It was agreed that AT would look at the FCR script to make sure that it explains that a CSI has been booked but this may not result in a CSI visit and that they will contact you once they have reviewed the circumstances.
Action – AT to review the FCR script for booking a CSI
The Commissioner commended the Force for it’s very honest and open paper on this subject.
He was assured that the Force had undertaken a thorough review of the 2 areas that were referenced in the report and while the findings were largely positive had identified some areas where they could improve and had implemented interventions to do so.
The Commissioner was keen to understand whether further work could take place to prevention activity, especially in relation to commercial burglaries and was informed by Detective Superintendent Tompkins that this was work already receiving consideration through Operation Crooked, managed by himself.
Overall, the Commissioner was assured by the contents of this report.
Update report in relation to actions from vetting, misogyny and misconduct inspection report
In December 2022 the Commissioner received a formal report from the Chief Constable, following the publication of the HMICFRS inspection report into vetting, misconduct, and misogyny in the police service. At that time, he was assured that the Chief Constable had responded robustly and positively to that report and a number of related wider issues, and that the Chief Constable informed him that all recommendations requiring action by Forces would be implemented by their due and expected date. All were required to be implemented by April 2023 at the latest.
The Commissioner now requires a further report which should confirm all recommendations are fully implemented, how any improvements are reality tested to demonstrate that they make a difference and provides an update on the wider work of Operation Admiral.
- DCC Ivan 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 harming public trust and confidence.
- Northamptonshire Police is the only Force in the region to set up a separate response and this has already been acknowledged as best practice.
- The HMICFRS report details 28 recommendations and five Areas for Improvement.
- DCC Balhatchet confirmed 26 out of the 28 recommendations will be completed within the agreed timescales. Two may require further work beyond the deadline.
- One of these relates to capturing of adverse data. This process used to be manual but since December there is now a computerised process in place.
- A PND data wash of all staff and officers will compare records to ensure the most up-to-date information is correct.
- The other relates to PSD investigations.
- DCC is looking at all misconduct reviews that have taken place in the last three years which has highlighted a real issue with capacity in the team as they also have to deal with complaints.
- He is building a business case for what the department should look like in the future.
- The Counter Corruption Team is also small in comparison to other Forces.
- The Commissioner recognised the capacity issue and welcomes the work being done to present a costed business case for the future.
- There was a discussion about the processes in place for new officers.
- Front end vetting is very strong, and all officers are within vetting.
- There was a discussion about screening information that goes to Voice.
- A new process is in place to understand why a case has been screened by officers and therefore shouldn’t go to voice. This could be for a number of reasons including the victim requesting complete confidentiality.
- There was a debate about what victim support you access if a victim is not referred into voice.
- PR confirmed it might be a criminal investigation in which case it will sit with the CID team who provide additional support although there is nothing to stop a victim referring themselves to Voice.
- PR confirmed that the Force have now moved from a position where one individual in PSD could stop a Voice referral. Any such decision is now reviewed within 24 hours.
- There was a discussion about the Historic Data Wash (HDW) of PND. This will be complete by the end of March.
- Any names with a flag against them will be checked – it is estimated that this will take no more than 8 weeks.
- This relates to historic data; all current information is fine.
- Returning to recommendation 28 – CC’s to review three years’ worth of misconduct investigations, the Commissioner asked if there was an appetite for a public scrutiny panel for such decisions going forward; this is the sanction – is that appropriate.
- DCC Balhatchet confirmed that the Force has an ethics committee that looks at themes, but he will give it some thought on how we might give greater public confidence.
- The Use of powers – strategic IAGs could be useful area to test it out in.
- There will also be an open briefing to the Police, Fire and Crime Panel in the summer.
- The Commissioner asked if the Deputy Chief Constable was confident that the two recommendations that require further work beyond the deadline will be completed by the advised dates.
- DCC Balhatchet confirmed he was reasonably confident.
- On recommendation 26 (PSD to ensure all investigations have a clear investigation plan covering lines of enquiries) if there is a capacity issue, Paul Fell asked if there is a documented process in place for this even if the investigation has not yet started. He expressed the view that the recommendation was for documented investigative plans following all lines of enquiry and there was a danger that this was being confused with the capacity in PSD to action. They were
- In conclusion, the Commissioner was pleased to receive another good and honest report that demonstrates the Force has gripped this agenda.
This paper was a report on an earlier paper presented in late 2022 to the Commissioner following the HMICFRS inspection.
The Force were able to report that they were leading the way in a response by the creation of a dedicated team under Operation Admiral and elements of this has already been identified as good practice nationally by NPCC and HMICFRS.
The Force reported to the Commissioner that of the 43 recommendations in the report, 28 related to Chief Constables and these 28 recommendations were due to be implemented by dates in April, October, or December of this year. Most of these were already completed and many had allowed the Force to better identify and mitigate any risk.
The Commissioner was provided with assurances that front end vetting processes were strong, and all staff had a current live vetting status, so were all in date.
There were two recommendations that may not be fully compliant by the due date, but these were discussed in detail and rationale for this explained with at least one of these being for reasons outside of the Force control.
The Commissioner thanked the Deputy Chief Constable for the work on this agenda and was assured at this point.
He observed that he will likely want to revisit this subject in coming months.
- There was a discussion about firearms licensing and the current backlog
- Given the level of Home Office Scrutiny on the Force, this will become a standard item on the accountability board each month.
- Weekly updates are to be provided to the Commissioner from IB and PF.
- PF will send a template to IB to complete.
- The HO return is due by 14th April, and it will report the Forces position on the last day of every month.
- The OPFCC will monitor on a weekly basis.
- The Commissioner advise that such is the concern, a £500m fund has been found to roll out training across all forces.
- There was a discussion about a reference being made to 2018 guidance in one of the Licensing team letters – this is not the right guidance, and the Commissioner will be taking this up with the Chief Constable to ensure the right legislation is being used.
- There was a discussion about the raising of the lifetime pension allowance from £1m to £1.6m. There is an expectation that this will be announced in the Spring budget.
- No further business was raised.