Police Accountability Board Minutes 9th February 2021

1. Welcome and introductions


PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)

Nicci Marzec (NM)

Paul Fell (PF)

Louise Sheridan (LS)

Stuart McCartney (SMc)

Chief Finance Officer Helen King (HK)

CC Nick Adderley (NA)

DCC Simon Nickless (SN)

Colleen Rattigan (CR)

Chief Finance Officer Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)

Sarah Crampton (SC)

DC/Supt Mark Behan

Apologies were accepted from ACC Simon Blatchly; ACC James Andronov and DCI Liz Wilcox

  • The Commissioner 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. Force Strategic Priorities Performance log

  • The Chief Constable has adopted a suite of performance measures and targets relating to Force Strategic priorities.
  • The Commissioner requests a presentation/report that shows performance against these measures and targets.
  • The Commissioner acknowledged the difference that the current Chief Constables’ leadership and vision had brought to the Force.
  • His clarity of thought and focus are driving performance improvements particularly in relation to victim satisfaction, the quality of investigations and burglary reduction.
  • There are still some areas of ‘High harm’ such as Domestic Abuse, RASSO and Knife Crime where progress has been slower.
  • The Commissioner acknowledges ‘green shoots’ and the undoubted challenge that these types of offences present. Further clarification on how progress will be accelerated will be covered in their next 1-2-1 session.

All crime

  • October to December saw a small reduction although all crime has increased in the past 12 months overall.
  • Victim based crime is down which is good news.
  • Regina offences are increasing largely as a result of proactive Police activity.
  • Public disorder offences have also increased, the vast majority of these are COVID related.
  • Northampton central has recorded the greatest reduction (-15.9%)
  • Increase in stalking and harassment largely attributed to the strict adherence of recording and counting rules, especially relating to the recording of secondary offences in domestic violence cases.
  • The Chief Constable noted the hard work being done by the Force in the proactivity leading to the Regina crime. Work still to be done on resolution rates as each crime should theoretically have a recorded outcome.

Domestic Abuse

  • DA related crime fell slightly in the last quarter but levels in Northamptonshire remain high.
  • Around 31% of DA recorded crime is stalking and harassment.
  • December saw the highest arrest rate for DA offences (up 30%) and the highest number of protection orders being issued. In addition, response times to incidents were faster with the introduction of a DA dedicated Response car.
  • Whilst there has been a 6.2% reduction in the last quarter the Force are very conscious that the landscape may change as we emerge from lockdown with the potential for more new or repeat victims coming forward.
  • The Force is focused on providing quality investigations for DA victims. Supervisor reviews ensure all positive outcome opportunities are maximised.
  • There are high levels of satisfaction amongst victims and campaigns to encourage victims to come forward will continue.
  • There was a discussion about detection rates and the decreasing trend in positive outcomes.
  • This was discussed at the Force Strategic Board (FSB). Focus will remain on robust crime recording and data analysis. There are also a number of review processes in place including via the Daily Pace Setter and by local sergeants within 24 hours.
  • As lock down restrictions ease, greater partnership’s with other agencies including the MARAC supported by a doubling of Neighbourhood officers will be key.
  • The Chief Constable has a meeting with the two new Unitary Chief Executives to discuss how they can play their part in a more holistic approach. (Not simply a police issue to resolve and cannot simply arrest our way out of DA)
  • There was a discussion about the county demographics where DA rates are higher.
  • Clearly suitable housing and safe refuge is a limiting factor; the ability to move away from DA, the lack of available housing to move people to and the significant barrier to move owner occupiers into rented accommodation.

Action – It was agreed that the Chief Constable would invite Nicci Marzec to the Chief Executive meetings to discuss holistic approaches to domestic abuse.


  • Recorded crime levels show an overall increase (slightly above the two-year average).
  • No discernible trend evident for non-recent offences. Op Antigua in June/ July 2020 was a one-off exception.
  • 40% of offences recorded are against children and 30% are domestic related.
  • Child on child offences continue to be high and most offenders where identified are u18. Typically, these are lower risk (sharing of images) but as both parties commit an offence this has a double counting effect on crime levels.
  • Likely to see increase in DA related sexual offences as lockdown restrictions ease – when people can get out of the house and access the services of support agencies again.
  • Stranger rape remains low risk
  • There was a discussion about the deferred work that was planned around education. (Healthy/safe relationships and sexting). This is being led by D/Supt Rymarz for Police and Vicki Martin for OPFCC.
  • NM confirmed this work has been delayed due to Covid restrictions in schools.
  • May be an opportunity to deliver some targeted intervention through RISE and whilst the broader educational piece will need to wait it was agreed that there is an opportunity to create a curriculum digitally (sexting etc) and link into the work that Simon Aston, Online Safety Officer at NCC is doing.

Action – NA to pick-up with D/Supt Rymarz. NM to pick up with Vicky Martin the work relating to education officer and curriculum to move forward.

Knife Crime

  • Knife crime offences remain high, but most are threats not usage.
  • Some of the increased volumes are reflective of changes to National Data Quality Improvement Service (NDQIS).
  • As more Forces onboard to NDQIS will have a better understanding of how we compare with other forces nationally, but there is a lack of national consistency in what is recorded in this category
  • Domestic related knife crime has increased in the last quarter however officers are capturing far more detail and therefore a much clearer picture of knife crime in this setting is emerging.
  • 30%of robbery involves a knife (increasing) but multiple crimes are often recorded for the same incident (multiple victims)
  • There has been an increasing number of stranger robberies and those where the victim does not support any police action. These are typically drug related (runners/users) and likely linked to OCG’s in the county.
  • Greater scrutiny from supervisors has been introduced to ensure investigative standards are improved.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed more pro-activity is planned, particularly in areas where knife crime is a real problem and is likely to include the use of Section 60’s and increased use of Stop and Search powers.

Child Sexual Exploitation

  • There has been an increase in recorded crimes over the past 12 months. (+6.7).
  • Positive action trend is upwards which is encouraging as typically CSE cases take a long time to resolve.
  • The main driver of offences is sexting – low level but dominating with a significant rise in child on child activity
  • This increased activity and the potential reasons driving this were discussed including the likelihood of any links to gangs or organised criminality.
  • Impact of extended lockdown and school closures means intelligence relating to children generally is falling; hard to know if they are at risk of CSEA, gangs or OCGs.
  • However, whilst many forces expect a surge in cases post lockdown. We think ours is stable. (Officers finding cases by being professionally curious and people have confidence to report now.

Action – Sarah Crampton to provide more data to include a breakdown of offences against children and offence that are categorised as child on child.

  • The number of high-risk missing children is increasing. Frequently missing children (3+ in 90 days) remains elevated suggesting the ‘locate’ approach isn’t preventing these vulnerable people from going missing.
  • Repeat rates for U18’s increasing and links back to earlier conversations about not being able to solve this problem without a partnership approach with other agencies.
  • There was a discussion about POLIT/MOSOVO. Workload of the team and the number of outstanding visits remains positive.
  • The Chief Constable confirmed he is comfortable with the target he has set.
  • Supervisor update rates for the Child Protection Team remain high with more using QLIK to help manage their workloads.


  • There has been a 47.3% reduction in the last 12 months.
  • Conclusion of Op Journey and Drink drug/drive campaign in December has contributed to significantly strong picture as well as reduced traffic under COVID changes and lockdowns.
  • The Force holds a strong position both nationally and within its MSG.


  • Fraud and cyber-crimes continue to increase and is likely to continue during COVID as shopping habits change and people become more reliant on technology for day to day business.
  • There are emerging concerns relating to COVID-19 vaccine scams with offenders purporting to be from the NHS.
  • Fewer opportunities to be out and about pushing OCG’s online
  • Current restrictions and the increased price of drugs (drug prices soared post lockdown #1 as restrictions on movement of goods impacted supply) and Brexit likely to result in more diverse range of supply tactics.
  • Modern slavery – upward trend in recording. The Force is continuing to identify and safeguard victims.

CJ outcomes

  • Most positive outcomes still come from a charging decision, but the Force are seeing an increase in the use of Out of Court Disposals and Community resolutions.
  • Improvements in investigations following PIP1 refresher training for all Response officers and greater supervisory direction should further improve positive outcomes rates.
  • It is expected that the increase in Neighbourhood officers (to be announced on Wednesday 10th February increase positive outcomes further as they will have more time to focus on Restorative justice and Community resolution.

Action – The Force should continue to monitor CJ outcomes; the Commissioner is interested to know how we benchmark against other Forces. Sarah to obtain this information and share with the Commissioner.

Assurance statement:

The Commissioner expressed his support and was assured that the leadership now shown in the Force by the Chief Constable and his team was much improved from previous years, providing greater clarity, vision and focus.

He recognised that there were clear green shoots of success in a number of areas that included burglary reduction, quality of investigations and victim satisfaction but there was still progress to be made in a number of higher harm areas, such as knife crime, vulnerability and Rape and Serious Sexual Offence numbers.

The Commissioner welcomed the fact that the Force had set some stretching targets in this year for things that mattered for the public but noted that a number were not being met and he expressed his desire for the Chief Constable to be clear in what the target setting process would be for the forthcoming financial year period.

The Commissioner welcomed the suggestion from the Chief Constable that policing will need to be delivered differently in some areas in the future to address issues such as knife crime.

4. Budget conditions letter update

  • The Commissioner agreed a budget conditions letter with the Chief Constable as part of the budget setting process for 2020/2021.
  • The Commissioner requires a report outlining progress, to this point in implementation and progress of the matters agreed in this letter
  • Having read the report in advance of the meeting, the Commissioner commended Vaughan and his team on the work they have done and the quality of the update provided.
  • The Commissioner was particularly pleased with the detail provided on the Police Officer Uplift and overall establishment. Clarity that had not been available with the previous Chief Officer Team.
  • The Commissioner asked a number of questions in relation to the Digital Forensics Unit (DFU) and the Digital Viewing Hub (DVH)
  • The Deputy Chief Constable confirmed investments have been made in improved kit. Increased leadership has given real focus, reducing time limits and queues.
  • Improvements in efficiency are now been seen in terms of performance.
  • It was agreed that the Force would provide a briefing paper at a future Accountability Board.
  • There was a discussion about the budget set aside for rural policing engagement and rural policing events, largely impacted by Covid. It is hoped that these will pick up again this year.
  • The Chief Constable asked if the Commissioner would be open to using any underspends from the investment in other areas, e.g. the recent surveillance proposal. The Commissioner advised he is open to that consideration nearer the year end.
  • Overall HK stated she was pleased and assured with how investments are being tracked.
  • There was a discussion about the delivery times of new vehicles to the fleet, the mobile police station/trailer and bikes. If not delivered by the end of March, accounting wise will move into the next financial year.

Action – VA to check and update HK.

  • The Commissioner asked for a final update on what the carryover is likely to be so that he can consider as appropriate.
  • VA confirmed he would discuss and advise HK as part of the year end closedown process and any formal request to carry over made at that time.
  • There was a discussion about Op Alloy – The Commissioner confirmed he is content to fund.

Action – NM to check with Zeeshan Khan to find out where we are with the Op Alloy contract.

  • There was a short discussion on Victims Code of Practice (VCOP) and preparations for an enhanced VCOP in April.
  • This is on the Accountability Board agenda for March so will be covered in more detail then.
  • There was a discussion on Overtime spend and whilst costs were not significantly lower, there was a better understanding of what the costs were, where they fell and why to enable informed discussion to take place.
  • Whilst the budget for overtime has been reduced the impact of Covid makes it difficult to do a fair comparison with the previous financial year.
  • Planning and Vaughan’s team are completing some analysis – particularly where overtime has been authorised for staff shortages. As recruitment goes up the necessity for this time of overtime should be less.

Assurance Statement.

The Commissioner thanked the Force for the comprehensive response in relation to the conditions set for this current year’s budget.

 He was assured that a better understanding existed in relation to what was expected in return for the delegated budget to the Chief Constable.

 He saw that while this report only deals with the first three quarters of the financial year some of the conditions would potentially not be met and as such these might well appear in the budget conditions letter for 2021/2022.

5. Missing Persons update

  • The Commissioner is aware of the demand placed upon Northamptonshire Police as a result of missing person investigations.
  • He requests a report relating to missing persons in the County. The report should include reference to the numbers of missing persons per year and any notable trends relating to this over recent years, as well as a breakdown in terms of demographic, including gender, age and ethnicity. Where relevant the paper should also highlight contributory factors associated with missing persons such as mental health.
  • It would be useful to have an assessment of the resource demand that this places upon the Force.
  • The paper should also highlight matters such as repeat rates for missing persons, where persons go missing from and other relevant factors.
  • The paper ought to provide the basis for a discussion to highlight risks and concerns that can then inform a discussion on the level of support that can be offered by the Commissioner and his office.
  • DC/Supt Mark Behan provided an overview on the report written by DCI Liz Wilcox.
  • The volume of people being reported missing has been rising over several years and there has been an increase in those assessed as high risk, largely being driven by the number of missing children an increase of 13% from 2019
  • Over 50% of children reposted missing were reported missing from care homes – a clear indication that looked after children are more vulnerable and
  • The average time taken to locate a missing person has decreased from 05.11 hours in 2019 to 03.49 hours in 2020.
  • 7% of ‘all time’ officers spend at a scene are for attendance to missing person reports although this does not include the time spent conducting reviews or following lines of enquiry including telecoms work.
  • 59% of all missing males were under 18 and 64.4% of all missing females.
  • People who self-identify as being of black ethnicity are more likely to be reported missing than those who self-identify as being of white or Asian ethnicity.
  • The most commonly identified risk factors are gang activity and CSE (53%)
  • Mental health was identified as a factor in 11.7% of missing person reports although surprisingly this is a reduction of over 2% from 2019.
  • Repeat rates are a concern; 64% were reported missing on two or more occasions and over a third of these can be defined as ‘frequent’ having been reported three or more times in a 90-day period.
  • There was an in-depth and detailed discussion on what could be done to address the risks and concerns identified.
  • The Force is currently reviewing the structure and processes within the Missing Person Unit (MPU) although given the recent favourable HMICFRS inspection feedback, it may be that the current model is maintained and complimented by some further work to refine processes and upskill/educate the wider force and partners.
  • The Force is currently working with Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue to agree a process for deployment of NFRS resources to assist in searches, particularly in respects of HRMP’s. This will go to the Interoperability Board in February for sign off.
  • There was a discussion about looked after children and the lack of any meaningful sharing of information between authorities or a comprehensive central database.
  • Many resettled children are here but don’t want to be here as a result of councils trying to get people out of local authority areas to give them a fresh start.
  • The lack of a formal information about looked after children moved to our county has been raised with Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children’s Partnership (NSCP). A meeting has been tabled for early March to fully understand this issue and scope a way forward.
  • The increased investment into Neighbourhood policing and the work of the Youth team will help identify more vulnerable young people along with insight into where they are hanging out and who with.

Action – The Chief Constable has a meeting with the two new Unitary Chief Executives to discuss how they can play their part in a more holistic approach to Domestic Abuse. Nicci Marzec is to be invited to that meeting.

In addition to issues relating to DA, NM will also raise concerns about the lack of any meaningful sharing of information between authorities or a comprehensive central database in relation to looked after children.

The Commissioner asked DC/Supt Mark Behan to pass on his thanks to DCI Wilcox for an informative report and for the positive comments the team have received from HMICFRS external inspectors

 Assurance Statement:

The Commissioner was reassured that the Chief Constable and team were able to demonstrate good internal processes, that were much improved over the past 12 months relating to missing persons, especially those deemed to be at high risk.

He was also reassured that it seems that this will be commented on favourably by HMICFRS following a recent inspection.

The Commissioner was pleased that the evidence demonstrates that the Force is identifying risk better, providing faster responses to these types of incident and locating missing persons more quickly.

The Commissioner offered his support through Nicci Marzec to the Chief Constable in addressing future or ongoing issues that might be supported by partners in relation to missing persons especially for looked after children.

6. A.O.B

– No further business was raised.