Welcome and introductions
PFCC Stephen Mold (SM)
Nicci Marzec (NM)
Helen King (HK)
Louise Sheridan (LS)
Emily Evans (EE)
CC Nick Adderley (NA)
DCC Simon Blatchly (SB)
Colleen Rattigan (CR)
Vaughan Ashcroft (VA)
SM welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Apologies were accepted from Paul Fell
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.
Earlier In 2022 the Commissioner received a report from the Chief Constable via the accountability board relating to the management of complaints against police, in the Force. Part of this report related to timeliness of investigations.
The Commissioner remains concerned about the timeliness of investigations and the effect that this has on public confidence and legitimacy.
As such the Commissioner requires a further report on this matter, relating specifically to timeliness.
The Commissioner requests that the report cover the following issues:
- The average timescales for assessment of investigations in PSD, from the point they are received from OPFCC customer service team to the point a decision is made to allocate either to PSD for investigation or Countywide Complaints Unit for completion.
- In cases where allocation is to a PSD investigator for investigation, the average time between that decision being made and the allocation being commenced with an investigator allocated.
- Whether investigations are allocated to PSD or Countywide Complaints Department, the average timeliness of completion of investigations, for both teams, measured from the point of receipt in PSD to final decision being made and relayed to the complainant.
- The figures should relate to the last 12-month period
- DCC Blatchly provided an update on timeliness of complaint investigations.
- The IOPC do not report on these measures so the Force has not been able to provide any comparative national data.
- In addition, only two other forces utilise Model 2 for Complaint Recording.
- For clarification, all local policing bodies have certain duties in relation to the handling of complaints. They can also choose to take on responsibility for certain additional functions that would otherwise sit with the chief officer.
- Model 1 (mandatory): all local policing bodies have responsibility for carrying out reviews where they are the relevant review body.
- Model 2 (optional): in addition to the responsibilities under model 1, a local policing body can choose to assume responsibility for making initial contact with complainants, handling complaints outside of Schedule 3 to the Police Reform Act 2002, and recording complaints.
- Model 3 (optional): a local policing body that has adopted model 2 can additionally choose to assume responsibility for keeping complainants and interested persons properly informed of the progress of the handling and outcome of their complaint.
- On this, the Commissioner stated that he did not see the relevance of the Forces comment on having adopted Model 2 as the preferred way to manage the complaints process. The question about timeliness has been asked in order to assess whether the Chief Constable is satisfied with the timeliness of PSD investigations.
- The OPFCC Customer Service team is performing well in relation to the time taken to contact complainants and resolve complaint cases and is consistently quicker than the MSF and national average.
- DCC Blatchly provided an update in the improvements that have taken place in reducing the backlog of the numbers of cases in the queue and therefore, the timeliness of PSD Investigations.
- Between Sept 21-Sept 22 it took, the average amount of time taken to assess a complaint in PSD (received from OPFCC and logged on Centurion) was 39 days. This is expected to decrease as complaints awaiting assessment have reduced from a high of 78 to 5 complaints.
- Between Sept 21-Sept 22 the average amount of time taken for a complaint to be allocated to a PSD investigator post assessment was 48 days. This is also expected to decrease as complaints awaiting allocation to an investigator have now reduced from a high of 42 to 13 complaints.
- There was a discussion about the spike in the backlog of complaints – this was due to an increase in the volume of misconduct proceedings which have now stabilised.
- Staffing in the Investigation Team has become fully established and monthly tasking meetings ensure investigations are considered, triaged and progressed efficiently.
- The DCC reassured the Commissioner that the most serious cases of misconduct are dealt with robustly and are immediately referred to a senior officer for escalation.
- In addition, counter corruption is taken extremely seriously, and the Force have measures in place to actively identify any form of corruption and deal with it robustly, fast-tracking cases to a Misconduct Hearing when appropriate.
- The Commissioner commented that the Force should not be afraid to communicate how seriously this is taken as this is really important in raising public confidence.
Action – NA to ensure Corporate Comms communicate the investment the Force has made in counter corruption in comms when we have a good outcome.
- Returning to the increased number of complaints with PSD, the Chief Constable confirmed that Chief Officer Paul Bullen is reviewing the current systems and processes with HR around recruitment and vetting.
- Work also continues with Sgt training to ensure low level complaints such as officer civility are addressed quickly, and poor behaviour is corrected at the earliest possible opportunity. For the Force to truly fulfil its potential, lower management needs to manage.
- This is particularly important given the increase in recruitment over the past 2 years and the young in-service workforce.
- Emily Evans agreed, advising that a number of cases that could be service recovered fail because the OIC does not respond in a timely manner to a question raised on behalf of a complainant.
- DCC Blatchly confirmed that OPFCC data from the Customer Service Team along with information in Centurion will now form part of the wider data analysis to be regularly reviewed by the Confidence and Satisfaction Board.
- There is also an opportunity to ensure that when compliments and thank yous are received that processes are in place to acknowledge good work.
- The Chief Constable agreed to ensure that positive feedback was also recognised by line managers and effectively communicated.
- There was a discussion about the Countywide Complaints Unit.
- Complaints not subject to a PSD investigation are passed to the Countywide Complaints Unit
- According to the latest IOPC data bulletin, complaints not subject to investigation took an average of 116 working days to finalise.
- This is compared to the MSF of 84 days and national average of 99 days.
- It was accepted that some of this delay will be due to the backlog in assessing complaints in PSD
- It was also noted that currently 10% more complaints than the national average result in a request for review. Of these reviews around 34% of reviews were upheld – 13% higher than the national average which is concerning.
- This led to a discussion about how PSD and the Countywide Complaints Unit work together and options to improve processes in the future.
- The DCC and CC agreed to review this and make a decision.
- There was a discussion about the disciplinary process and HR policy for police staff members.
- DCC Blatchly is currently discussing this with Chief Officer Bullen to see if any areas need to be tightened up and will update the Commissioner when all the current policies have been reviewed.
- Overall, the Commissioner was assured by the additional information provided by DCC Blatchly which demonstrated significant improvements in the reduction of the backlog of cases.
- The Commissioner would like a further report in 6 months’ time to ensure that the queue reductions have been sustained and that the timeliness of investigations has improved as a result.
- He added that he would like to see some ambition for the area. The maximum wait time for a case to be allocated should aways be 28 days or less with a broader vision of x days. The Chief Constable to determine what x should be.
- The Commissioner was further reassured that the triage of all referrals to PSD takes place within 48 hours and that the most serious allegations are reviewed and escalated to the DCC.
- The Commissioner added that there had been a good discussion and thanked DCC Blatchly for the improvement.
The Commissioner welcomed the work that had been done to improve timeliness withing PSD but recognised that there was still a significant amount of work to be completed to bring timeliness to what he considered to be an acceptable level.
He will be tasking his office to monitor this on a monthly basis and will require a further report if he does not see the continued improvement he is expecting.
In February and July this year the Commissioner received a report from the Chief Constable relating to progress against actions, recommendations and AFI from HMICFRS inspections, and preparations for future PEEL inspections.
The Commissioner requests a further report outlining the current position in relation to these matters, with a particular emphasis on progress in line with the agreed quarterly targets determined by the Force and highlighted in previous reports.
- Colleen Rattigan provided an update on the current position and progress being made on the AFI recommendations from the HMICFRS inspections.
- As of October, the Force is confident that 11 of the 19 AFIs from the 2021 Peel Report can be marked as complete.
- All remaining AFIs are in progress:
AFI 3 relating to Stop and Search being used fairly and appropriately
- ACC Ash Tuckley now leads on this and scrutiny takes place under the Use of Force Board.
- Training refreshers are now embedded in OST for all frontline staff including knowledge of law, procedure, ECHR and health and safety implications.
- Dip sampling ensures adherence to guidance.
- Whilst the Commissioner was pleased that the Force is confident about the processes and procedures that have been put in place he sought reassurance that these processes had been tested against S&S data to ensure any evidence of disproportionality is monitored and positive outcome rates are checked and scrutinised.
- Colleen agreed to get answers to the specific questions raised and respond to the Commissioner directly.
Action – Colleen to ensure new processes and procedures adopted are being checked against S&S data to confirm they are working.
AFI 4 – Improvement of external scrutiny processes for use of force.
- Colleen advised that significant progress has been made with an established Community Scrutiny Group. Or use of powers which includes police use of force.
- This follows best practice from other forces.
- In addition, the Community Ambassador Scheme is now in place working in conjunction with the officer safety trainers and the OPFCC Youth Provision
- There was a discussion about the SSWG and an opportunity to ensure contextual safeguarding is more structured and focussed.
Afi 9 – Review caller data to ensure repeat and vulnerable victims are identified, recorded and appropriately supported.
- System changes have been introduced which include mandatory vulnerability flags and set questions modified around THRIVE.
- Additionally, there is an expectation that more crime prevention advice will be given over the phone as discussed at the recent National Chiefs Council meeting.
- Colleen advised that Northants is looking at digital solutions that can send Crime prevention links to the caller’s phone to further assist them.
- The changes adopt best practice models used by other Forces and there is substantial evidence and considerable confidence to mark this AFI as complete.
- The Commissioner commented that whilst he is supportive of the changes the Force have made, how confident is the Chief Constable that vulnerability and repeat callers are being identified; providing an example of one particular case where THRIVE did not sufficiently identify vulnerability given the callers age.
- The Chief Constable confirmed he has is pragmatically reviewing the current model, particularly around violent crime to ensure that there are no missed opportunities to intervene earlier or respond more quickly.
- Dip sampling and compliance testing will continue via a strategic oversight group who will govern and monitor progress.
AFI 10 – To reduce victimisation and future demand the Force should speed up its plans for Integrated offender management including lifetime offender management for serious and organised criminals.
- This AFI has progressed significantly since the Peel inspection in 2021
- An update on progress is scheduled for the November Accountability Board where the Commissioner will have an opportunity to apply further scrutiny before this AFI is signed off.
AFI 13 – Making full use of the expertise of financial investigators to identify and disrupt offenders engaged in organised crime.
An Economic Crime Working Group has been established and management sits under the Organised Crime Mapping Group which highlights work allocations, OCGs, SOC operations and individuals involved in County Lines.
- The Force is content that there is sufficient evidence to support appropriate process in this area.
- There was a discussion about whether this area of crime should move from Forces to the National Crime Agency (NCA) as nationally there is a concern that police forces are not dealing with this category of crime effectively.
AFI 17 – Improving recruitment and retention to make sure the workforce is representative of its local community.
- The Force continues to strive to improve the recruitment and retention of its workforce and is confident that there are structures in place, and evidence to prove that the Force has improved.
- Recruitment campaigns have changed, and more targeted processes are now embedded to reach different communities and audience through positive action.
- This AFI is now governed through the People and Culture board.
- The Force is now working more closely with HR on planned recruitment to match demand and looking at ways to offer specialisms at an earlier opportunity.
- An example of this is the work being done with the University of Northampton.
AFI 18 – The skills of its workforce are comprehensively identified, understood and maintained.
- Colleen advised that the skills database can demonstrate the up-to-date skills requirement across all police officer roles.
- It has now been overlayed with police staff skill requirements
- The PDR system captures the completion of training requirements and prompts development opportunities.
- All staff have to complete PDRs and chief officers check and verify.
- A Talent Management System is now in place for business-critical roles.
- There was a discussion about PNAC – The Strategic Command Course is open to police officers at superintendent and chief superintendent ranks, and staff at equivalent grades, from all UK forces who have shown the potential to progress further in their careers. It is a statutory requirement for officers seeking promotion to assistant chief constable and above in UK forces.
- This is currently under review and likely to be replaced with a more evidence-based programme for Chief Officer appointment and future leader development.
- Development modules are for Chief Inspector upwards are being established to create a greater pool of people who could become a Chief Officer with talent management identification and support early on.
- The profile of the workforce is young and therefore have had to invest in teaching them key skills
- There was acknowledgment that historically Forces have been better at teaching leadership than supervision and reflective practise.
- There was a discussion about the College of Policing and the price increase for courses.
- The Commissioner asked for some examples so that he could raise this directly with them
Action – NA to provide the Commissioner with examples of courses where the College of Policing have increased the price or where the cost is unclear.
Action – NA to provide the Commissioner with examples of courses where the College of Policing have increased the price or where the cost is unclear.
- In readiness for the next PEEL assessment in 2023, a new programme of work has commenced.
- Victim Service Assessment (VSA) and Crime Data Integrity (CDI) have been audited by senior detective and the quality of reviews have been good.
- The additional investment in demand analysis though Poliscope will allow the Force to demonstrate that is makes evidence-based decisions regarding current and future demand forecasting.
- The Commissioner was assured that the work undertaken to receive a Good assessment in the last CDI inspection are being maintained.
- There was a discussion about Home Office Counting rules and an acknowledgement that whilst important for legitimacy, there is work that the Home Office could do to make it simpler and less onerous, creating a recording bureau of just checking, checking and checking.
- It was agreed that a further update would be brought to the Accountability Board in the new year.
The Commissioner welcomed the progress that had been reported to him and was confident that the Force improvement journey was continuing. He reiterated that it was important for these improvements to be triangulated and tested, as well as articulating policy and procedural change ahead of any future HMICFRS inspection.
The Commissioner would be prepared to provide supplementary budgets for peer reviews in these areas.
Budget monitoring report
The Commissioner requires a budget monitoring report to this point in the financial year 2022/2023.
Vaughan Ashcroft provided an overview of the Budget monitoring report.
- There is a current overspend of £302k which VA anticipates will reduce by year end if no further unexpected pressures arise.
- Contributing factors are the considerable inflationary pressures on transport (fuel, parts etc) and building utility inflation.
- There was a discussion on the cost of fuel and the impact this has had and is likely to have throughout the financial year; including whether there was any opportunity for the tax element to be discounted for Emergency Services.
- The Chief constable advised that the Force were also looking at how they could save on fuel usage for example, patrolling without purpose. This would mean Response cars adopting a similar model used by the Ambulance Service – defaulting to a specified position and holding rather than driving around.
- The estimated cost of the agreed officer pay award exceeded contingency budgets. Approximately £600k is expected in support from the government to offset this but has not yet been received and did not meet the full cost
- The cost of the agreed police staff/PCSO award are currently being remodelled as negotiations have reopened following the police officer pay agreement. A further increase is likely but not yet included at this stage.
- There has been an additional cost of £160k for the bank holiday pay (police regulations) associated with Her Majesty The Queens funeral along with mutual aid to London and now Leicester following community tensions there.
- Accepting that some of the mutual aid costs will be covered by mutual aid agreements, the Commissioner asked Vaughan if he could provide him with an idea of the cost.
- VA explained he would do this once it had been worked through.
Action – VA to provide the commissioner with the costs associated with recent mutual aid deployments to London and Leicestershire.
- On the current community tensions in Leicestershire, the Commissioner wanted to know what the Force is doing around engagement with community leaders.
- The DCC confirmed that ACC Tuckley held immediate meetings with community leaders and is encouraging them to become members of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG).
- The purpose of IAGs is to facilitate genuine partnerships with local communities to encourage more active involvement of and with people from the full range of diverse groups.
- On Leicestershire, the Chief expressed his gratitude to Simon and Ash for the work being done adding that interestingly in a recent HMICFRS inspection, Leicestershire were graded as outstanding for Community Engagement.
- There was a discussion about ESN money, a national programme where there has been a big underspend. The Commissioner agreed to follow up on what is happening to the underspend of approximately £60m
Action – SM to follow-up on the £60m ESN national underspend.
- VA outlined possible areas where savings or additional benefits or refunds may arise during the year. They are not yet confirmed so not in the figures. If they transpire the overspend would reduce and the budget monitoring would be updated accordingly.
- There was a discussion on the current underspend on PCSOs
- The Force started the year under establishment and applications for a planned intake in October have been low with further challenges in pre-employment checks.
- The Commissioner advised the Chief Constable that the £639k underspend will be transferred to earmarked reserves as per his budget conditions letter.
- There was a discussion about Estates and Facilities. It is expected that the full contingency will be drawn down and an overspend is forecast.
- HK advised this is because last year’s budget commitment would have had inflation assumed but not at the levels it is currently running at.
- There was a discussion about appropriate use of Reserves to ensure operational requirements are delivered. The Commissioner was grateful that these were sufficient to smooth out inflationary pressures.
- The Force is continuing to drive down overtime spend however improvements in this area are negated by overspends in the transport department. The Commissioner reintegrated that we have to get efficiencies in this area or it will cost more money in the end.
- There was a discussion about the current overspend on D and T mobile data charges.
- VA advised that the recent Variation agreement was supported as the best way forward, accepting the budget pressure in appreciation of the ongoing work to drive usage down and to negotiate the historic charges.
- There was a discussion about future Savings and Investment proposals
- HK advised that she thought the capital programme spend looked optimistic and there was a need to accurately predict this so that revenue impacts could be accurately forecast.
- CR advised that additional investment proposals are being worked on and will be brought to the Accountability Board in December.
- The Commissioner commended the work done by Vaughan and his team and was pleased with the discussion and clarity it provided.
- The Estate Board meets on 19th Once papers are received HK will give her counsel to the Commissioner.
The Commissioner was assured both with the quality and level of monitoring undertaken by the Force and the information contained within the report. In particular, he welcomed the sharp focus on the inflationary pressures and how this might affect the future.
While he accepted these pressures existed he was keen to make the point there where it was possible, the Chief Constable would need to mitigate these pressures in the existing financial envelope but remained open to further discussions on this as time progressed.
- There was a discussion about recent KSI data with demand currently at its highest since December 2020.
- No specific reason for the increase has been identified but a hypothesis led by the NRSA suggests a substantial step change is needed in the psychology of drivers in the county.
- There was a discussion about the increase in drug and alcohol related driving incidents and issues with the availability and cost of drug swabs.
- The Commissioner advised that he is reaching out to PCC Hernandez in Devon and Cornwall who is the APCC lead on roads policing to see what can be done to improve drug swab availability and testing regimes.
- The new Roads Policing Unit comes into place in December; the Commissioner asked how this will increase the number of vehicles stopped for poor driving standards.
- The Chief advised that a TOR and Performance framework is being finalised by Supt. Jen Helm which he will share with the Commissioner.
Action – NA to share TOR and Performance Framework for the RPU when finalised.
Action – SM to check the current status of drug wipe kit availability and if there are any testing delays for Northants.