Contact: Khalid Ahmed, Thames Valley Police & Crime Panel Scrutiny Officer Tel: 07990 368048; Email: email@example.com
Link: videolink to meeting
To approve the Minutes of the meeting held on 20 November 2020.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 20 November 2020 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The report will be presented by Councillor Barrie Patman, Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group which met on 20 January 2021.
Members were informed as in previous years; the Thames Valley Police & Crime Panel formed a Budget Task & Finish Group to assist in discharging its statutory duty to scrutinise the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Thames Valley’s proposed Council Tax precept for 2021/22.
Councillor Barrie Patman, the Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group presented the report. He thanked Ian Thompson and Linda Waters for attending the Group and updating Members on the PCC’s draft budget proposals.
The report provided Members with the main changes highlighted as a result of the Home Office Police Grant Final Settlement announcement and the papers issued for the PCC’s Level 1 meeting with the Chief Constable of TVP on 19 January 2021.
The report contained details of Thames Valley’s response to the settlement which included:
· The overall settlement and the flexibility that the PCC has been allowed for council tax precept levels was extremely encouraging which demonstrated the importance the government placed on the services delivered by the police service and the difficulties and challenges being faced.
· This was only a one-year settlement and reference was made to the impact of Covid-19, which would impact on all public services. Priorities included:
• Recruiting and training the additional officers awarded to TVP under the Police Uplift Programme (PUP)
• TVP as an organisation needed to be adapted to the changing crime patterns and increasing levels of vulnerability.
• Technology needed to be used to improve the productivity of officers and their ability to respond to and protect the vulnerable is critical. Software such as Pronto, needed to give officers instant information to improve and adapt responses
• Additional funding would allow TVP to invest for the medium term to achieve ambitions for improving the service delivery such as Neighbourhood Policing and PCSOs, the Rural Crime Task Force, County Drugs Line (CDL) Enforcement, Domestic Abuse (DA) Capability and Cyber/Fraud.
· Additional funding from the full council tax increase would allow additional investments totalling £5.4m, and include Forensic Services and Digital Investigation (£0.5m), Effective Demand Management (£0.5m), Safeguarding and Vulnerability (£1.0m), End to End Investigation Processes (£1.6m) and Operational End User Devices (£1.8m)
· Reference was made to TVP receiving confirmation of 361 officers, and the anticipated further 170 - 220 in the third year (2022/23). However, this barely addressed the officer numbers lost since 2011, compounded by the significant numbers of police staff that have been removed from their establishment.
· It was noted, that prior to the announcement of the council tax flexibility, 192 officers of the additional police officers (from the National Uplift Programme) were to be used in areas of policing over the coming years that they would rather not. They would be performing an operational policing function but one that could be and was currently performed by police staff. The cost of not replacing these posts with new police officers and maintaining the current staff, would be around £7.7m over the MTFP period, with £2.5m of this falling in 2021/22.
A recommendation had been put ... view the full minutes text for item 2/21
Attached are the Revenue Estimates report which was presented to and agreed at the Police and Crime Commissioners Level 1 meeting with the Chief Constable on 19th January 2021.
The PCC responded to the following written questions:-
1. What justification can the PCC give for requesting a £15 increase on Band D for Council Tax when local authorities across the Thames Valley are looking to limit Council Tax increases because of the impact of the pandemic on the economy and residents?
[The provisional police finance settlement for 2021-22 is predicated on the basis that all PCCs increase their Band D council tax by £15 increase in order to recruit the second tranche of 6,000 police officers from the national Police Uplift Programme and also invest in local operational policing and he community safety. The PCC said that he would rather not put it up and h did not have the option of two years.
Unlike local authorities I was not given the option to phase this increase over 2 years which is what, given the option, I would have preferred to do.
Following discussions with the Chief Constable I believe that the extra benefits for council tax payers, in terms of improvements in frontline operational policing is worth the extra £15. This increase equates to £1.25 per month or 29 pence per week.
On average the policing element of the local council tax bill is just over 10% of the total bill.
A short 2 week public consultation on the precept proposal took place which was sent to circa 100,000 residents across the Thames Valley area. 4,372 responses were received of which 2,814 (64.4%) supported the increase.
Most other PCCs in England and Wales are also proposing to increase their Band D council tax by £15.]
2. What would be the implications to the Police service of a “stand still” budget if council tax precept increased by £9.20 or 4.25%?
[The full council tax investment of £15 will enable additional funds of £5.4m to be invested into long term increases in capability. This will include establishing a Rural Crime Task Force, supporting PCSOs in neighbourhood policing and increasing enforcement against county lines drugs gangs. In support of these front-line investments, the increase in council tax will enable improved investigations and ensure that front line officers are able to work effectively to protect the public. These improvements would not be achievable if the precept increase is only £9.20. The key areas for investment are:
· Forensic Services and Digital Investigations (£0.5m) – this will allow investment in new and cutting edge technologies and training to enhance TVP forensics capabilities, including the ever increasing digital forensics requirements. Investment will directly contribute to advancing the delivery of forensic services, improving the Force response in areas including high-tech crime, biometrics and imaging. Enhanced and faster support across the whole investigation landscape (reactive, proactive and digital) will bring offenders to justice in a timely fashion, increase the likelihood of maintaining victim engagement and maximise all investigative opportunities.
· Effective Demand Management (£0.5m) – this will enable further investment into analysing demand and prioritising how TVP react to and deal with these varied specific and general demands, ... view the full minutes text for item 3/21
A joint presentation will be given by TVP Professional Standards Department (D/C/Supt Colin Paine and from the Office of the PCC, Vicki Waskett.
The Panel was provided with a report and presentations on the recent reforms to the police complaints system which came into effect on 1 February 2020.
Members were reminded that following the implementation of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, Part 2 of the Act reformed the national police complaints and disciplinary systems.
Colin Paine, Detective Chief Superintendent and Head of Professional Standards Department (PSD) attended the meeting and provided details on the operational impact of the reforms to the PSD.
The main issues raised were:
· The new complaints system focused on forces not individuals;
· There was a strong focus on learning and improvement
· Introduction of ‘reflective practice’. This was the ability to reflect on your actions and improve the way you worked. In order to get the most out of it the participating officer must be willing to continually assess their own practice.
· Officers could directly be referred into Unsatisfactory Performance Procedures
· Misconduct sanctions available now included extended written warnings and reduction in rank
· All complaints/expressions of dissatisfaction needed to be recorded or logged
· All complaints were subject to a ‘reasonable and proportionate’ investigation. IOPC Statutory Guidance 2020 states forces needed “to complete a reasonable and proportionate investigation”. This meant weighing up the matters seriousness and its potential for learning, against the efficient use of policing resources, to determine the extent and nature of the matters handling and outcome.
· A reasonable and proportionate response included providing a clear and evidence-based rationale for any decisions made.
· New definition of a complaint – much broader than before. A complaint was “Any expression of dissatisfaction with a police force which is expressed (whether in writing or otherwise) by or on behalf of a member of the public”
· A formal complaint was one which was recorded under Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act and was recorded because the complainant expressly wished it to be so recorded.
· Informal Complaints – These were low level expressions of dissatisfaction/underperformance that could generally be resolved at the point of call. There were no fixed processes for dealing with expressions of dissatisfaction and if the complainant was satisfied at the end of the call then the matter was considered resolved.
· Under the new regulations the Home Office have given a provision to deal with complaints outside the formal complaint process. These were Schedule 3 complaints, which meant the rules of schedule 3 did not apply.
· Complaint reviews (formerly appeals) were now carried out by the OPCC
The Panel was informed that the new complaints process came into effect on 1st February 2020. Any matters brought to the attention of PSD before this date would be dealt with under the 2012 regulations. It was anticipated that there would be a need to run two complaint processes alongside each other for approximately 12 months.
Reference was made to prolific complainants and the Panel was informed that such complainants created disproportionate demand. The IOPC had produced guidance on handling repetitious and vexatious complainants.
The PSD put in place communication ... view the full minutes text for item 4/21
To consider a report which the Police and Crime Commissioner has commissioned from the Chief Constable. D/Supt Stan Gilmour will present the report.
The Deputy PCC informed the Panel that the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) brought together key partners from across Thames Valley to provide a co-ordinated response to tackling serious violence across the region.
This multi-agency approach involved local authorities, education, policing, health, third sector organisations and members of the community, all working together to understand the root causes of serious violence and focussing on place-based problem solving in order to address them.
The VRU took a public health approach to tackling violence by looking at violence, not as isolated incidents or as a law enforcement problem, but instead as a preventable consequence of a range of factors such as adverse early-life experiences or harmful social or community experiences and influences.
Thames Valley’s VRU focussed on four main themes:
· Supporting communities and partnerships
· Early intervention and prevention
· Tackling county lines and the misuse of drugs
· Effective law enforcement and the criminal justice response
The Panel was informed in 2019 the OPCC received £1.16m to support the introduction of the VRU and this funding was renewed in March 2020 with an additional £1.16m.
Details of short and long-term activities and interventions which were being delivered by the VRU were provided in the report.
Reference was made to knife crime being down 6% from last year and at its lowest level since 2016. Personal robbery was down 23% and there was a positive outcome rate for Violence with Injury is up 23%.
The Panel was informed that the VRU worked with data from the Police, local authorities and the NHS to enable the identification of key locations and times of serious violence to inform prevention and enforcement activity. A dashboard was available for the Police to link data from all agencies.
There was a Thames Valley wide Drugs Diversion Scheme in place providing specialist support for people found in possession of drugs to prevent prosecution and break the cycle of re-offending. Enhanced information sharing network had been established to help safeguard young people identified as at risk of exploitation through County Lines.
1. In relation to violent crime which took place as a result of County-Lines which crossed Police Force boundaries; the Deputy PCC was asked what collaborative work took place with other VRUs to ensure consistency in approach?
[The Panel was informed that there was a National County-Lines Co-ordination Centre which had been established which ensured a joined-up approach to cross-boundary crimes. In addition, the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit ensured a consistent collaborative approach to these crimes.]
2. The Deputy PCC was asked about gaining consent from health partners for data and what challenges did this bring.
[This could be challenging at times, particularly as Thames Valley covered three counties which consisted of a number of different health trusts. There had to be a view taken on sharing data in relation to balancing patient confidentiality against prevention of crime.]
3. How much of the work of the VRU is fed back to Community Safety Partnerships?
[The Chief Constable reported that ... view the full minutes text for item 5/21
To consider a report of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Panel was provided with a report which detailed progress made (Year 4, 2020/21, Qtr. 2) on delivery of the following four-year Police and Crime Plan key aims for addressing vulnerability:
1. Improved recognition across the criminal justice system of mental health distress experienced by both victims and offenders, leading to
a) Referral pathways into appropriate support agencies, and
b) Improved access to mental health care form those in contact with the criminal justice system.
2. Better understanding by police and partners of the extent and nature of elder abuse, followed by positive action taken to address the issues uncovered.
3. Improved police awareness and robust prosecution of those practising ‘more hidden’ forms of abuse, including coercive control, stalking, harassment, honour-based abuse (HBA) and forced marriage.
4. Improvements in criminal justice experience and outcomes for victims of domestic and sexual abuse.
5. Ongoing assessment by police of the benefits arising from Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASHs), including the current arrangements of 9 MASHs serving Thames Valley.
RESOLVED – That the report and information contained within, be noted.
To note and ask questions on the Topical Issues report and to hear any announcements from the PCC and from the Chairman of the Panel.
The Topical Issues report was noted.
In response to a question on national police investigations having been compromised by an error that led to hundreds of thousands of records being deleted from UK-wide databases, the PCC informed the Panel that this was a Home Office data base but he was aware that this had been down to a data error. It was too early to know the impact, if any, this had on Thames Valley.
For Panel Members to put forward items for the Work Programme including ideas for themed meetings.
Exclusion of Press and Public
The public should be excluded during this item because its discussion in public would be likely to lead to the disclosure to members of the public present of information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person as detailed in paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended):
It is considered that in this case the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information in that such disclosure would infringe the rights of the individual to privacy contrary to the general law and the duty of the authority to respect human rights and to comply with that law and contrary to the authority’s duties as a fair employer.
RESOLVED - That the public be excluded for the duration of item 13 in the Agenda since it was likely that if they were present during this item there would be disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) and specified in relation to the respective item in the Agenda and since it is considered that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.
Update from Complaints Sub-Committee
The Panel was provided with an update on the recently upheld complaint against the PCC.
It was agreed that Councillor Merilyn Davies (West Oxfordshire District Council) and Liz Jones (Independent Member) be appointed to the Complaints Sub-Committee to fill the two vacancies.
The public should be excluded during this item because its discussion in public would be likely to lead to the disclosure to members of the public present of information in the following prescribed category:
3. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information) and since it is considered that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
RESOLVED: That the information reported be noted and the appointments of Councillor Merilyn Davies (West Oxfordshire District Council) and Liz Jones (Independent Member) to the Complaints Sub-Committee be approved.