Agenda and minutes

Kent and Medway Police and Crime Panel
Thursday, 28th September, 2017 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Joel Cook / Anna Taylor  03000 416892 / 416478

Media

Items
No. Item

237.

Minutes of the Police and Crime Panel held on 20 July 2017 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.    The Chairman offered the congratulations of the Panel to the Commissioner on the birth of his daughter.

 

2.    The Chairman noted that the Commissioner had helpfully provided an update on items for further action.  A Member thanked the Commissioner for the updates and requested that further information be provided in relation to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary’s report into Crime Data Integrity, as the Force continued to engage on the Area for Improvement relating to diversity information.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting on 20 July 2017 were an accurate record and that they be signed by the Chairman.

 

238.

Police and Crime Commissioner's Statement of Accounts 2016/17 - Statutory Requirement pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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Minutes:

1.    The Commissioner introduced the Statement of Accounts for 2016/17.  He expressed thanks to all staff at the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC), in particular his Chief of Staff and Chief Finance Officer; Adrian Harper and Rob Phillips.  He also highlighted the helpful contribution of Paul Curtis, the Chief Constable’s Chief Finance Officer and Sonia Virdee, Kent Police’s Chief Accountant.

 

2.    The Commissioner explained that the impact of flat cash settlements was still being felt, with ongoing requirements to find savings and efficiencies.  He noted the significant impact of reduced public sector funding across a range of organisations, some of which had faced more difficult situations than the Police but he commented that this did not diminish the challenge policing was facing.  He reassured the Panel that the Force had done well in this respect, noting that HMIC had praised Kent Police’s financial management.  The Commissioner commented that work already done by the Force to address financial challenges meant that Kent Police’s finances were in a relatively strong position, and combined with the council tax increase last year, there had been sufficient funding to support increasing Police Officer numbers (3181 up to 3260).  The strong financial situation also allowed for the protection of PCSO numbers and for future planning around maintaining them as it was expected that some may leave their post to become Police Officers. 

 

3.    The Commissioner explained that the Auditors reviewing the accounts had provided an ‘unqualified opinion’, which was a positive endorsement of the state of the financial management.

 

4.    The Commissioner advised the Panel that he was lobbying government in relation to the ongoing inflationary pressures and recent pay rise for Police Officers, his view being that the increase should be funded by central government and not a savings pressure on Forces.

 

5.    Mr Phillips, the PCC’s Chief Finance Officer, provided an overview of the accounts report, explaining that it represented an attempt to make the financial information more accessible, including more context and explanation.  He advised the Panel that the Kent Police Finance team had been able to complete all the accounts earlier in the year and he was hopeful the information could be reviewed and approved earlier in future years, which was positive as the statutory deadline was expected to be brought forwards.

 

6.    A Member asked about the £5m worth of capital spend ‘slippage’; the Commissioner explained that most of this was in relation to national projects such as the Airwaves radio replacement.

 

7.    A Member congratulated the Commissioner and his team on achieving an unqualified opinion from the auditors but noted the potential risk around actively seeking to advance deadlines in terms of finalising the accounts.  Mr Phillips reassured the Panel that the recommendation to advance the deadlines from their auditors had been taken as a compliment on the efficiency of the finance team, but it would not happen at the expense of accuracy.

 

8.    A Member asked about the appropriate level of spendable reserves.  The Commissioner explained  ...  view the full minutes text for item 238.

239.

Police and Crime Act 2017 - new responsibilities for Police and Crime Commissioners pdf icon PDF 258 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.    The Chairman and the Commissioner agreed that the two main updates for this item in relation to new powers for Police and Crime Commissioners arising from the Police and Crime Act, be provided separately.

 

Fire & Rescue Governance

 

2.    The Commissioner noted that the changes to Fire and Rescue service governance was one of the more controversial elements of the Act because it allowed Police and Crime Commissioners, providing that they have Home Office approval and public support, to consider a range of different approaches including becoming a single employer of both Police and Fire services or abolishing and replacing the Fire Authority.  The Commissioner had, in consultation with the Fire Authority, taken the decision to join as a Member at this time, with a view to working collaboratively across joint goals and improving both services.  The Commissioner advised the Panel that the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner was due to be the first to become a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, taking on the full governance responsibilities for both.  The Commissioner explained that he had advised his Essex colleague that it would be important to ensure that any subsequent changes did not negatively impact on the existing collaboration between Kent and Essex Police.  The Commissioner re-iterated his support for the Representation model, joining the Fire Authority as a Member.

 

3.    Responding to questions, the Commissioner recognised that joint working with the Ambulance service was not as developed as the collaboration between Police and Fire services but explained that the Ambulance Service was becoming more involved in collaboration, with some positive steps already being made such as consideration of shared estate use.  He advised the Panel that he was due to meet the Chief Executive Officer of the South East Coast Ambulance service in November to explore further collaborative opportunities.  The Commissioner commented that there were additional challenges involved in working with the Ambulance service, compared with the existing collaboration with the fire service such as not having co-terminus service borders.

 

4.    Responding to questions, the Commissioner reassured the Panel that he was confident that his chosen approach of joining the Fire Authority was appropriate as it focused on co-operation and discussion on shared priorities and future improvement which was how he preferred to fulfil his role as Commissioner.

 

5.    The Chairman highlighted the important role of the Kent Community Safety Team in the ongoing joint work between relevant partners, which the Commissioner agreed with and noted.

 

Complaints

 

6.    The Commissioner explained that the government had offered PCCs a choice on how to manage police complaints in the future, rather than imposing one model.  One of the elements was mandatory, but the other two models were optional and allowed a PCC to go further. The PCC explained that his office had prepared a business case, but he had not taken a decision as yet and so would welcome the Panel’s views on which model would be most appropriate.  He advised the Panel that further guidance was expected from government but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 239.

240.

Making Offenders Pay - progress update pdf icon PDF 214 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.    The Commissioner advised the Panel that ‘Making Offenders Pay’ was a new commitment within his Police and Crime Plan.  He outlined a range of activities, including use of the Proceeds of Crime Act to seize property and funds used in crime (£12m had been seized so far, of which Kent Police had kept £4m as it was split across various agencies).  The Commissioner also outlined Operation Morris which involved seizing vehicles that were involved in crime and selling them.  The Commissioner advised that he had re-invested the money, with £25k going to Kent Police to support volunteering; £25k to Speedwatch, specifically to develop the scheme; and £15k for the Communities Together Fund (which provides numerous grants to community groups).

 

2.    The Commissioner explained that Restorative Justice formed a key part of making offenders pay, and is supported by the Victims Funding he receives from the Ministry of Justice. He advised that a new Restorative Justice provider had been appointed from 1 October - Restorative Solutions and he was keen the service was used appropriately to hold offenders to account.  The Commissioner commented that the important role of Restorative Justice had been recognised at a workshop with Kent Police, Restorative Solutions, his Office and other agencies but it was not a substitute for other criminal justice sanctions.

 

3.    The Commissioner advised the Panel that some PCCs were lobbying government for additional powers in relation to criminal justice for PCCs.  He advised the Panel that in light of some of the concerns around Probation and ‘Community Payback’, one opportunity could be Police and Crime Commissioners working together to commission rehabilitation programmes.  Responding to questions on PCC powers, the Commissioner explained that PCCs did not have a ‘general power of competence’ which limited their authority in relation to estates and capital spending.  He advised that the Home Office had encouraged PCCs to try doing more things but that the freedom in some areas had to be balanced against their capacity and how some of the responsibilities across different areas may not be easily compatible.

 

4.    Responding to questions, the Commissioner advised that Proceeds of Crime Act funds were re-invested directly in the police.  He clarified that the Communities Together Fund was open to anyone that wanted to provide some community benefit.  The Commissioner confirmed that Town Councils could apply for this funding if they had community safety projects or schemes that would benefit the community.

 

5.    Responding to a question about the money raised through fines, the Commissioner advised the Panel that HM Treasury collected all funds raised by fines issued by the Police.

 

6.    In response to a question about publicity around the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Commissioner explained that success stories were shared on social media.  He also highlighted that funds were raised through the sale of lost and stolen property.

 

RESOLVED that the Panel note the report on ‘Making Offenders Pay’.

 

 

241.

Mental Health - verbal update

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.    The Commissioner provided an update on the Community Street Triage scheme being run by Kent Police, in collaboration with the Kent and Medway Partnership Trust and local CCGs who were paying for mental health nurses involved in the scheme.  The schemes were now being run in Thanet and Medway.  He advised that referral numbers remained low at present so further work was being undertaken to examine demand to determine if some changes to the operating times could improve effectiveness.

 

2.    The Commissioner explained that the Mental Health and Policing Oversight Board was progressing well, reviewing the delivery of the joint Kent Police and KMPT Mental Health Strategy.  This met in April and was due to meet again in October.

 

3.    The Commissioner explained that some Police and Crime Act 2017 changes, such as preventing the detention of children in Police cells under mental health legislation, had not yet been implemented via the necessary secondary legislation.  He commented that s.136 detentions had increased in Kent but the number of people held in custody  was down.

 

4.    The Commissioner advised the Panel that as part of the New Horizon change programme in Kent Police, a new Mental Health team had been set up to revolutionise the Police approach to how mental health issues are handled.  He commented that other Forces were already enquiring with Kent for guidance on how to mirror this good work.

 

5.    The Commissioner advised the Panel that his ‘Mental Health East’ project with the Deputy Chief Constable of Cambridge Police was continuing as part of the Eastern Region collaboration.

 

6.    The Commissioner also highlighted that he was committed to ensuring appropriate support was available to Police Officers and staff.  He commented on a £150k grant from the Police Dependents Trust to help develop leaders for the Live Well, Feel Well programme.

 

RESOLVED that the Panel note the Mental Health Update.

 

242.

Powers of Kent Police Community Support Officers pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.    The Commissioner introduced the report, advising the Panel that the Chief Constable had decided to grant some additional powers to Kent Police Community Support Officers.  To provide context, the Commissioner explained that all PCSOs had certain standard powers that were universal across all Forces but that Chief Constables had discretion to grant a range of other powers.

 

2.    The Commissioner advised that four new powers were being granted:

·         To require name and address for certain licensing offences.

·         To remove truant or excluded pupils found in a specific area to designated premises.

·         To close licensed premises consistently selling alcohol to children.

·         To disperse persons from a specified area under a Dispersal Order.

 

3.    He also explained that the power to issue a penalty notice for parking in a restricted area outside a school was currently subject to discussion with Kent County Council and Medway Council’s legal departments, but it was anticipated that the power would be granted in December.

 

4.    The Commissioner outlined the views of the Chief Constable in that PCSOs should remain non-confrontational and the decision on additional discretionary powers reflected that.

 

5.    Members welcomed the new powers but also commented that it was difficult to make effective distinctions between confrontational and non-confrontational powers, when it could be argued that all enforcement powers were confrontational by definition.  In relation to these operational concerns, a Member highlighted the benefits of attending the Performance and Delivery Boards to observe the discussions between the Commissioner and the Chief Constable.

 

6.    Responding to questions about public feedback in relation to PCSOs, the Commissioner explained that he had received positive feedback that PCSOs were the eyes and ears of the police, but he recognised concerns that there could be an over-reliance on PCSOs for all community policing, thereby not involving Police Officers enough.

 

7.    Members commented on operational concerns about arrest guidance for PCSOs / Police Staff.  The Commissioner agreed to flag up the concern to the Chief Constable.

 

8.    Members commented positively on their local PCSOs and also highlighted the need to maintain numbers.

 

RESOLVED that the report on new PCSO powers be noted.

 

243.

Governance of Kent Fire and Rescue Service - Record of Decision pdf icon PDF 613 KB

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Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Commissioner’s decision be noted.

244.

Procurement of Restorative Justice Service - Record of Decision pdf icon PDF 633 KB

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Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Commissioner’s decision be noted.

 

245.

Questions to the Commissioner

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Minutes:

Question 1

 

Can the Commissioner explain to the Panel how he ensures that the Chief Constable is not retaining digital photographs of individuals who are not convicted of a crime?

(Gurvinder Sandher)

 

 

1.    The Commissioner responded, explaining that digital imaging was a fast moving technology and there was no doubt that it had the potential to offer great benefits to the police, but full consideration must be given to how the resultant images will be handled. As a result, the Home Secretary issued a code of practice on the Management of Police Information in 2005, with guidance on how it should be applied to custody photographs coming into effect in 2006, and a second edition in 2010.

 

2.    In 2012, the High Court ruled that the Metropolitan Police Service had breached the human rights of a woman and boy they arrested, by keeping their custody pictures after taking no further action against them. In light of this ruling, in 2017 the Home Secretary ordered police forces to delete on request millions of images of innocent people unlawfully retained on the Police National Database. It was acknowledged that to insist police forces assess all 19 million custody images and delete those who have not been convicted of an offence was impractical.

 

3.    The Chief Constable had assured the Commissioner that all information, including digital images of people, was managed in accordance with the Management of Police Information Guidance. In addition, in terms of evidential imagery, such as BWV footage, that all persons not involved in an incident were edited in order to protect their identity.

 

4.    Of course, as well as the Management of Police Information Guidance, digital photographs fall within the scope of Data Protection legislation and the remit of the Information Commissioner’s Office.

 

5.    To date, the Commissioner had not had concerns expressed to his Office, but the issue has been raised with the Chief Constable who had provided assurances that Kent Police operate within the guidance. However, should an issue arise, the Commissioner had the ability to raise matters with the Chief Constable directly at their weekly one-to-one meetings, or in public at the Performance and Delivery Board.

 

6.    In response to the Vice-Chair’s supplementary question, the Commissioner confirmed the policy was that relevant images would be deleted upon request.

 

Question 2

 

In a recent visit to Swale to share with the Leader and Chief Executive the vision and practical realities of the New Horizons Project the Chief Constable took time to explain in detail his continued support for CCTV across the County, in particular, as an investigative tool. With Council budgets ever more under pressure, many Local Authorities are considering significant cut backs in their CCTV capability. This year the PCC has withdrawn financial support for CCTV, yet it clearly remains a priority for the public of Kent and also the Chief Constable, given that he appears to be at odds with public opinion will the PCC reconsider his funding decision, even if only in allowing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 245.

246.

Future work programme pdf icon PDF 51 KB

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Minutes:

RESOLVED that the future work programme be noted.