Agenda and minutes

Venue: Paralympic Meeting Room, Aylesbury Vale District Council Offices, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury, Bucks HP19 8FF

Contact: Khalid Ahmed, Thames Valley Police & Crime Panel Scrutiny Officer  Tel: 07990 368048; Email:  khalid.ahmed@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1/20

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Nigel Chapman (Oxford City Council) (Councillor John Tanner substituting), Councillor Steve Good (West Oxfordshire District Council) (Councillor Norman MaCrae appointed as replacement representative) and Councillor Howard Woollaston (West Berkshire Council).

2/20

Minutes pdf icon PDF 616 KB

To agree the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 22 November 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman).

 

[In relation to Minute No. 30 – Report of the Complaints Sub-Committee – it was agreed that Councillor Trevor Egleton, Councillor Andrew McHugh and Mr Phillip Morrice be appointed to the vacancies on the Complaints Sub-Committee.]    

3/20

Report of the Budget Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 707 KB

The report will be presented by Councillor Barrie Patman, Chairman of the Budget Task and Finish Group.

Minutes:

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 2020/21.

 

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 Panel was informed that in normal circumstances the PCC would notify the Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel of his proposed council tax precept by 1st February 2020. However, this had not been possible this year given that the Police Grant Settlement for 2020/21 was not announced until 22 January 2020 making a formal proposal to the Panel before 1st February not possible.

 

This lateness of the preparation of the draft budget and proposed council tax precept had meant that the Budget Task and Finish Group had only had one meeting to consider and scrutinise the proposals.

 

The Chairman particularly referred to the following points:-

 

·         The proposed increase to the police element of the Council Tax was by £10 per annum for 2020/21 (for a Band D property).

·         Overall the settlement announcement was good news with an additional grant and increased flexibility in council tax precept enabling the addressing of some service and performance issues by increasing resources, both police officers and police staff, alongside the investment in technology to improve productivity.

·         Reference was made to the expected increase in demand for services over the next four years, particularly in relation to increases in terror related incidents, County Lines, cybercrime, increased reporting of complex crimes such as general sexual exploitation and Domestic Violence (DV).

·         The increase in police officer numbers nationally of 6,000 by the end of March 2021 and a further 14,000 by March 2023 would result in around an additional 183 officers in the Thames Valley in the coming year. It was noted that the impact of this would not be felt immediately.

·         The funding settlement allows for the full funding of these officers in the financial year and provides an uplift to allow for additional infrastructure and support costs for the full uplift of officers over the next three years. Estimated infrastructure funding needs for the future years from the current year’s settlement needed to be set aside.

·         There was a focus on increasing productivity by investing in technology and ensuring the appropriate process and cultural change flows from that investment to improve effectiveness.

·         Reference was made to the assumption being made that for 2021/22 and beyond that there would be full funding for additional officers under the national uplift programme, but there would only be a 1% increase in core grants and a return to the 2% council tax precept rise.

·         For the next 4 years in compiling the MTFP the following assumptions were made:

Ø  General inflation will be applied at 2.0% in each of the next 4 years;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3/20

4/20

Scrutiny of the Proposed Precept - Questions to the Police and Crime Commissioner pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Attached are the Revenue Estimates 2020/21, Medium Term Financial Plan 2020/21 to 2023/24, the Medium Term Capital Plan and Reserves and Balances Reports.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The PCC responded to the following written questions:-

 

1.         Will this budget mean that you are in a better position to deliver the key objectives in your Police and Crime Plan, particularly in relation to the reduction of crime and higher detection and conviction rates?

 

[Yes, the budget enables the Chief Constable to recruit up to full current establishment. In addition, we have already started to recruit the additional 183 police officers and, provided everything goes to plan, we should have these in place by late summer.

 

Although it will take a while before these extra officers are ready for operational deployment I am confident that, together with the additional investment included in the budget, I will be able to deliver my Police and Crime Plan objectives and also leave a good legacy for my successor.]

 

2.         What rationale will be used to decide where the extra 183 officers will be deployed across the Thames Valley?

 

[The PCC reported that the initial 183 officers are being deployed to LPA Incident and Crime Response (ICR) teams as this is the area where changing levels of demand are felt to be impacting most severely and also an area that has previously seen a reduction of officers because of funding challenges. As officers begin their service in ICR, there are clearly also practical reasons which would prevent us from increasing the establishment of other teams – not least, it would leave a very inexperienced group of officers in the ICR teams and make it difficult for us to maintain minimum resource levels as a result of the abstractions that student officers will have as part of the new entry routes.

 

The distribution of those resources across LPAs has been determined through a refresh of our resource modelling.  As the remit of ICR teams is primarily reactive, this modelling was based on:

 

·         The volume and type of crimes and incidents that take place in each LPA;

·         The time spent dealing with those types of crimes and incidents;

·         The travel time involved in attending those crimes and incidents, taking into account the geographical and demand profile of each LPA

·         The time required to investigate these crimes;

·         Travelling time to custody in each LPA;

·         Travelling time to conduct enquiries in each LPA.

 

To ensure that we didn’t unfairly prejudice any LPA, we also reviewed the level of neighbourhood resourcing based on such factors as population, indices of deprivation, geography and volumes of ASB, and made adjustments to the allocation where an LPA was felt to be under-resourced. It is also important to note that the impact will be felt not only by the direct uplift that each LPA is receiving but also from the reduced need to abstract officers to cover elsewhere in the force. Over time the demand in some areas has increased more than in others, the rapidly expanding Milton Keynes being an example, and as a result it is increasingly common for officers to have to move from their LPA to cover otherwise  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4/20

5/20

Annual Assurance Report 2019 from the Joint Independent Audit Committee to the PCC for Thames Valley and the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police pdf icon PDF 425 KB

To consider the attached report from the Joint Independent Audit Committee.

Minutes:

The Panel was provided with the Annual Assurance Report for 2019 from the Joint Independent Audit Committee which explained how the Committee has complied with each of its specific responsibilities, during the last twelve months covering the period December 2018 to December 2019.

 

The PCC reported that the report provided an assurance opinion that the risk management and internal control environment in Thames Valley Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner was operating efficiently and effectively.

 

Reference was made to the uncertainty around the budget for 2021/22 and the potential £2m shortfall. The PCC commented that the Police funding review was expected later in the year and at this stage the PCC did not know what funding would be received.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report be noted and the Panel offered their congratulations to the PCC and the Force for such a good report from the Joint Independent Audit Committee.

6/20

Police and Crime Plan Strategic Priority - Vulnerability - Performance Report pdf icon PDF 493 KB

To consider a report from the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Minutes:

The Police and Crime Commissioner informed the Panel that his Police and Crime Plan set out the following aims for addressing vulnerability:

 

         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 from those in contact with the criminal justice system

         Better understanding by police and partners of the extent and nature of elder abuse, followed by positive actions taken to address the issues uncovered

         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

         Improvements in criminal justice experience and outcomes for victims of domestic and sexual abuse

         Ongoing assessment by police of the benefits arising from Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASHs), including the current arrangements of 9 MASHs serving Thames Valley. 

 

Details of the TVP delivery plan action points which support and complements the PCC’s Police and Crime Plan were detailed in the report.

 

Reference was made to the development of operational guidance to ensure officers and staff were aware of how to refer victims into the Victims First service.

 

An update was requested on the review into MASHs, which included the benefits of having 9 MASHs serving Thames Valley. The PCC reported that a review had taken place and it had found that there was competence across different field areas (omni-competence). They would continue to operate as they were, although it was not entirely satisfactory across the Thames Valley. It was reported that engagement would continue with Berkshire local authorities regarding the number and effectiveness of their small MASHs.

 

Reference was made to the plight of armed forces veterans with an estimate of 10% of the prison population consisting of veterans and 20% of the homeless being veterans. The PCC was asked what was being done to support these vulnerable people. The PCC agreed that more should be done to support veterans. The Chief Constable reported that those veterans who had fallen into crime and were taken into custody blocks, were often diverted to charities who supported veterans.          

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report and update provided by the Police and Crime Commissioner be welcomed and noted.

7/20

Police Complaints Reforms

To be given an oral update on recent reforms made to the Police Complaints and Discipline process.

Minutes:

Head of Governance and Compliance at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner provided the Panel with a presentation on recent reforms made to the Police and Complaints and Discipline process.

 

The Panel was informed of the options which would be available to the PCC and that Thames Valley PCC would be taking on Model 1 which was to take on reviews of police complaints (previously known as appeals) whilst the Professional Standards Department (PSD) would continue to deal with most incoming complaints.

 

Members were informed that the new complaint reforms came into operation on 1 February 2020 and Model 1 would ensure that the PCC would be more customer service focused when receiving complaints. Reviews would be sent to Office for the PCC via workflow on Centurion. These would be signed off by the Head of Governance and Compliance with recommendations to Head of PSD. The Office of the PCC would provide data on reviews to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

 

With the reforms there would be increased focus on learning and improvement (focus on forces – not individuals), local accountability would be enhanced and PCCs would have statutory oversight of complaints system within their force area.

 

Reference was made to the new way of working which would help tackle some of the issues faced from the old process, ensuring clarity, less bureaucracy and more flexibility to deal with complaints to the public’s satisfaction. The reforms also included a move towards a more reflective practice, focusing on learning outcomes for both individual police officers and staff, and the Force.

 

Improvements with the new system included:

·         Forces must be reasonable and proportionate – reducing need for unnecessary investigations.

·         Threshold for misconduct increased to promote reflective practice in policing.

·         More control for line managers.

·         Focus on organisational learning.

·         Improvement on investigation timeliness.

·         Legally Qualified Chairs (LQC) – greater flexibility for pre-hearing conferences.

·         Fair and transparent process.

·         PCCs to make recommendations.

·         PCC taking on responsibility for appeals.

 

However, reference was made to the negatives to the reforms:

·         There was no power to enforce recommendations, although this would not be an issue in Thames Valley.

·         There was variance in ‘reasonable and proportionate’ terminology.

·         Accepting reflective practice.

·         Minor complaints recorded with potential to be reviewed.

 

As the reforms would allow individuals the right to request their complaints were recorded, this would also allow more individuals the right to review. This would increase the number of reviews. Also if the complainant was unhappy with the response of their review from the Office of PCC, it was thought there could be more complaints against the PCC, and potentially more complaints for the PCP Complaints Sub-Committee to hear.

 

Reference was also made to complaints now being able to be made via social media platforms but that these had to be directed to the Force.

 

Discussion took place on the implications of the reforms on the Panel’s Sub-Committee and it officers and the Chief Constable commented that it could be helpful if the Panel received  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7/20

8/20

Chairman, Police and Crime Commissioner Updates and Topical Issues Report pdf icon PDF 563 KB

To receive updates from the Chairman of the Panel and the Police and Crime Commissioner and to note and ask questions on the topical issues report.

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer for the Panel provided a report which presented details of topical policing issues since the last meeting of the Panel.

 

In relation to Child Sexual Exploitation offences, the PCC was asked whether the number of these offences had increased in the Thames Valley. The Chief Constable reported that numbers were down in the Thames Valley (-6%).

 

Reference was made to retention of Police Officers and the Panel was informed that there was a Retention Project Board which looked at proposals to improve retention, however, around 20-25 officers left every month.

 

The representative from Milton Keynes asked the PCC about the cost of the funding of the community engagements events held by ROC which would be taking place across the Thames Valley. Subsequent to the meeting, the PCC reported that the cost was £7,000 for each location they were held in.  There would be four in locations in Milton Keynes and one each in Reading and Oxford City (£42,000 in total).

 

Reference was made to the allocation of resources for counter terrorism and whether it was reasonable that Extinction Rebellion was on the counter terrorism police list group as an ‘extremist’ group. The Chief Constable responded that they should not be on the list group.

 

The report and comments made were noted.   

 

9/20

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 510 KB

For Panel Members to put forward items for the Work Programme including ideas for themed meetings.

Minutes:

The Panel agreed that for the November meeting, the themed item should be on Property/Assets – Looking at shared facilities between TVP and other “blue light” emergency services.

 

The work programme was noted.