To receive an update of progress against the Police and Crime Plan Q4 2018/19 to enable Panel members to scrutinise performance, seek assurance and assess outcomes achieved in the reporting period.
The Panel considered a report informing them of the progress against the Police and Crime Plan and Priorities 2017-21. The report provided information on the financial outturn position for the year ending 31 March 2019, including updates on the following items:-
CEO talked members through the report explaining the pillar themes and highlighted the headlines for each pillar.
The PCC highlighted areas of work related to each of the pillar themes with members of the Panel who were leading on each of the themes in the Plan were also invited to provide updates.
Pillar 1 - Protecting People at Risk and Harm - Cllr Julie Bagwell
The PCC highlighted the work with county lines and the recruitment for the Police Cadets Scheme. He noted that in reality 1 in 3 calls related to people with Mental Health concerns with potentially 1 in 10 calls related to people in crisis. In respect of police resources regarding cases of Mental Health crisis, the PCC advised they were working with partners to help reduce this. He highlighted the work in different areas to help with this which included community retreats and the24/7 crisis line.
Following a question about CCTV, the PCC confirmed he is both funding and co-ordinating this work. It was around £300k capital and revenue funding, he hoped it would ultimately become a pan Dorset project and he was currently in conversation with Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council (BCP). Towns that currently didn’t have CCTV would need to raise funds to enter into a partnership with the PCC who would also consider contributing some resource to the project.
The PCC anticipated that the Bobby Van in the future would be self-funding and completely sustainable. The van was being procured and the post was currently being graded. The aim was to launch in December and the governance of this would be through the Innovation Board.
Following a question from the Vice-Chairman regarding how success was measured in case of domestic violence and hate crime, the PCC advised firstly that there was a direct correlation between domestic violence incidents and crime with the decrease in one category being linked to the increase in another. With hate crime it was difficult to benchmark but he confirmed that hate crime remained a big priority for him.
In respect of knife crime awareness, the PCC advised there was still work to be done on this but had commissioned Safewise to provide some intervention training in schools. This was a clear priority area for him and noted that the majority of incidents of knife crime usage were domestic abuse related. He added that there was a very different profile in Dorset to what was happening in London and Bristol, for example, in relation to knife crime.
Pillar 2 - Working with our Communities - Cllr Les Fry and Cllr David Taylor
The PCC reported they were still seeing reductions in killed and seriously injured on our roads but there was no room for complacency. A dedicated police camera operator to work alongside community speed watch volunteers had now been appointed and had recently been deployed in Pimperne. The aim was to give teeth into the local speed watch system.
He had also funded a fly tipping co-ordinator post and a co-ordinator for county lines and child exploitation work which was currently being advertised.
One member highlighted the Cyber Crime Prevention officer role that had recently had a change of postholder, and queried whether there could be some sort of commitment in place to ensure they stayed in place for say a minimum of a year to offset money spent on training the individual? The PCC undertook to look into this but was aware that a minimum amount of money had been spent on training in the past. The Chief Executive commented that the majority of resources were around equipment rather than training.
In respect of benchmarking success in cyber safety, the PCC advised that originally this was done crudely by numbers, as it was hard to measure outcomes in this area. However, he had received good feedback from schools and communities.
The PCC ‘s blogs on Mental Health awareness were highlighted.
In respect of GPS tagging, the PCC advised he had now introduced a second trial contract in Dorset, allowing for a comparison to be made between the effectiveness of tags from two different manufacturers. He reported seeing tremendous results in Dorset with the Government now confirming they had finally extended the provision of the usage of GPS tags, in some circumstances.
Pillar 3 - Supporting Victims, Witnesses and reducing Reoffending - Cllr Bill Pipe and Molly Rennie
The PCC reported that a couple of commitments in this pillar were marked red due to the constant changes in government policy, as a result of the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda.
In response to a question regarding the Collingwood wing at HMP Verne (scoping the introduction of a possible veterans wing within the prisons estate), the PCC advised he was due to meet with the Minister later in the week. He felt that policy was not likely to be changed with the onset of a new Prison Minister. He confirmed that the wing would not just be for veterans, but also for vulnerable people.
One member noted that data showed that 94% of people felt safe in Dorset, and asked about the variability of this data, whilst noting that this represented a good feeling of safety within the county. However, he was concerned about the detail around scams and fraud and considered if the RAG rating was based on historic data. The PCC agreed that he was also concerned by the variability of confidence of people in Dorset, he was seeing fluctuations which were worrying. The Chairman asked for details of where Dorset stood in the national ratings and the PCC undertook to provide this at the September meeting.
Pillar 4 - Transforming for the Future - Iain McVie and Cllr Barry Goringe (including Customer Service Panel)
The PCC advised they were starting the recruiting process for 50 police officers. The roll-out of body worn videos continued and they were now seeing a slight link between this and a reduction in complaints.
The Independent member felt it would be helpful to revisit body worn videos in the work programme. In respect of measuring success with this project the PCC advised that an internal review was being scoped at present. There would be an evaluation in the future as to its effectiveness, and noted there were clear instructions in place where body worn videos should be used. The Pillar Lead was considering the use of bail from a national perspective.as the next area for him to scrutinise. The PCC welcomed the Panel deep diving into bail and had issued a challenge to the Chief Constable as he wanted to see bail percentages increase.
The Chairman made reference to the State of Policing – The Annual Assessment of policing in England and Wales 2018 by the HMIC Sir Tom Winsor which had recently been published. The Chairman focused on the reports third main issue which was that there was a mismatch between police funding and public expectations, seeking a view from the PCC. The PCC advised that this was a known issue (especially the aspect of short term resource planning by Central Government) and also made reference to the five former Metropolitan Chief Constables who had responded to the report, and in doing so had also asked for a Royal Commission on Policing, which he supported.
Following a question about dates/venue for PCC led scrutiny panels, the OPCC undertook to provide this information outside of the meeting.
Members also received a report on the scrutiny review of the remote access to Courts/Video Enabled Court Scheme. It was felt a decision needed to be made nationally for the balance of economics and being effective. Cost should be borne with the courts as they employed people to take people to courts and/or prison. Members of the Panel thanked the Pillar Lead for his work in this area.
The Chief Financial Officer presented to members her draft outturn report for Q4. The final accounts were still with audit but she was not expecting any changes to impact on the budget outturn report. Officers were making changes to the annual accounts in respect of pension liability. The accounts showed a positive outturn with the net revenue expenditure showing an outturn of £760k underspent. Capital expenditure was £6.7m with key spending areas including body worn videos, 60 new vehicles and transforming forensic expenditure. Closing balances showed £9.1m usable Reserves budget.
Members’ asked the following finance related questions to the PCC:-
1. Total earmarked reserves for the original budget were £670k, yet the Draft Outturn (in one year) is now £4M. Can the OPCC please outline where this funding was obtained?
Earmarked reserves are a means of building up funds, to meet known or predicted future spending requirements; earmarked reserves are accounted for separately but remain legally part of the General Fund. They are therefore revenue funded reserves and are a method for smoothing the budget provision across years to meet uneven or fluctuating cash flows. The costs for which such reserves are held are generally, by nature, unpredictable, in terms of both timing and amount.
Since the original budget was set in February 2018, changes have been made to the reserves forecasts as a consequence of:
i) The outturn position for 2017/18 - reported to the Panel in June 2018
ii) The Revised Estimate for 2018/19 – reported to the Panel in February 2019
iii) The outturn position for 2018/19 – now reported
The protocol adopted for the explanation of variances is to the last reported forecast, on a cumulative basis, for ease of tracking and to avoid repetition. In this report, variance explanations have therefore been provided to the Revised Estimate as reported to the panel in February this year.
However, the main reason that reserves are higher than the original forecast is because of:
a) Later timing of forecast expenditure, and
b) New predicted requirements. In detail:
The Chairman outlined that this may contradict the Reserve Policy and the Panel would prefer that this funding stayed within the Budget Management Fund. The Chief Financial Officer stated that the Reserves Strategy was set annually and that this new reserve was required in order to support the Dorset element of regional collaboration.
o The Regional Collaboration Reserve is a new funding line, sourced from the Budget Management Fund (BMF). The purpose of the BMF is to hold in-year underspends in order to carry forward “for use” funding to the following year; this ensures complete transparency with future underspends.
In setting the Reserves Strategy the relevant Home Office Police finance reserves guidance and CIPFA guidance is followed. The Strategy requires that reserves are kept under review to ensure the continuing relevance and adequacy. A review was conducted in the light of the draft outturn position and the Treasurer took a report through internal governance (Decision Making Joint Leadership Board) in April.
The Board approved the request from the Force for a new reserve for regional collaboration. A specific reserve is considered appropriate in order to transparently identify the resources set aside to cover future expected requirements.
The funding came from underspends in the annual revenue budget and relates to:
£194k brought forward for SW Forensics; £140.5k Capital allocation towards building work at Bristol and Devizes and £53.5k 17/18 underspend – transferred from the Budget Management Fund. £37k share of SWRF 18-19 underspend to fund one off digital imaging equipment.
In response to a question about whether other Forces in the unit put in an amount, the PCC advised although it was regional it was for every Force to set their own reserves and to determine any expenditure to be released from them.
The PCC confirmed that the same broad percentage funding formula for regional collaboration had been used since 2012. He noted the importance of having the right reserves strategy in line with the relevant guidance.
The main capital receipt related to Bournemouth Police Station £3.2m, with the remainder coming from the sale of 3 police houses and a communications mast.
Savings targets were allocated to indicative budgets and closely monitored through Resource Control Board to ensure they were achieved. The £850k savings were achieved as follows:
- £200k Estates – savings in maintenance/staffing/rents
- £350k IT Savings - licences /process re-engineering/staffing
- £100k Transport – restructure of Insurance arrangements
- £200k Procurement – force wide savings on new contracts let
The original budget included provision for Digital Camera upgrades (£340k) and CCTV (£263k). The upgrades were re-profiled for 2019/20 and the CCTV expenditure has been included in the ICT line. There were other minor underspends on Drones and TSU equipment
The Chairman noted that the income achieved from the Chief Constable was positive and asked for further details. The Chief Financial Officer advised that the original budget of £14.1m which had been revised up to £27.6m, the out-turn was £1.5m better. The most significant change had been in relation to Dorset Police now being responsible for managing the National Transforming Forensics programme which accounted for the majority of the increase in the Chief Constable’s income.
In respect of ICT being grossly underspent, the Chief Financial Officer advised that the Capital programme was now coming under more scrutiny and development and typically projects were across a number of years. She advised that there was an increasing need to be able to manage and plan the cashflow better.
As the budget outturn was more optimistic than anticipated one member wondered if the PCC was planning to be more ambitious with the projects earmarked for the coming year. The PCC advised that in year savings had been made but this did not necessarily mean there was more money to spend, given the impending costs the Panel had previously been made aware of, including increasing pay and pension costs, and the implementation of the Police Education and Qualification Framework. However, the in-year savings did allow the creation of a one-off Innovation Fund, to be used for pump priming innovative work within the force.
In respect of any potential cost implications in respect of the recent cyber attack to forensic providers, the PCC advised there might be huge cost implications but not for the Police. Contracts were being examined by the Information Commissioner and the PCC undertook to provide more detail on cost implications for the September meeting.
That an update on the cost implications arising from a recent cyber attack be added to the agenda for the meeting scheduled for Tuesday 24 September 2019.