Contact: Sheena Jones
Welcome and Introductions
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the Meeting.
The named substitutes were:
Cllr Vivienne Parry for Cllr Roger Evans (Shropshire County Council)
Cllr Kit Taylor for Cllr Karen May (Worcestershire County Council)
Apologies and Declarations of Interest
Apologies were received from Councillors Dakin, Evans and May.
A declaration of interest was made by Colonel Tony Ward who was a Member of the Trust, Integrity and Ethics Committee
It was noted that Cllr Mackay was in receipt of a police pension but not from West Mercia Police.
Cllrs Bowen, Mackay and Wood advised that they were former members of the West Mercia Police Authority and knew the former Chief Constable Paul West in a professional capacity only.
Members of the public wishing to take part (asking a question or making a statement) should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by email indicating both the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case xxxxxxx). Enquiries can be made through the telephone number / email address listed below.
Scrutiny of the Sale of Registration Plate AB1
The Chairman in introducing the public participation advised that:
· As Panel members and members of the public were aware, major changes to police governance were introduced a few years ago with the direct election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) for police areas
· Police and Crime Panels were also established at the same time as part of those new governance arrangements. This Panel acted on behalf of all the principal councils in the West Mercia police area, with councillor representatives and also independent members
· PCC's had wide-ranging powers and functions, and an important role for these Panels was to scrutinise or review decisions or other action taken by them. This was part of the public accountability of Commissioners – candidates were of course accountable to the electorate at the time of elections but Panels have a clear part to play on behalf of the public in relation to the exercise of Commissioners' functions during their term of office. Later Agenda items showed part of the ongoing work of the Panel eg in relation to the budget setting process
· The Scrutiny of the Sale of Registration Plate AB1 Agenda item related to a decision by the West Mercia PCC to sell the rights to number plate AB1. The sale had caused a considerable degree of public criticism and comment, whether or not such criticism was justified. It seemed to be in the public interest to place the matter before the Panel to carry out a Scrutiny of the sale to help clarify the facts and increase transparency
· As the Report made clear, the Panel had also received a number of complaints concerning the conduct of the Commissioner in selling AB1 ie in relation to his decision to sell and the process used. It seemed that the most appropriate action to take was to scrutinise that decision causing concern in order to establish Who did What, When and Why. The additional transparency may itself resolve many or all of the complaints as far as the Panel could, or there may need to be further process to do so, but the focus of the Panel was to Scrutinise the sale of AB1 rather than attempt to resolve the individual complaints. The complaints had been summarised in the Report to inform the Panel as to the nature of the concerns raised, which may inform the Scrutiny
· In terms of how this item would be dealt with, there were a number of members of the public who would be allowed three minutes to speak with a total maximum of 30 minutes public participation for all speakers.
An outline of what each of the speakers said is as follows:
Andy Parkes (retired Police Superintendent from West Mercia Police)
· Mr Parkes worked directly for Paul West in his last role
· He represented over 1000 people who had signed a petition in relation to the sale of AB1 and its subsequent withdrawal from auction and the sale to Paul West ... view the full minutes text for item 243.
To confirm the Minutes of the Panel meeting held on 30 November 2017.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 30 November 2017 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Panel was asked to scrutinise the Police and Crime Commissioner's (PCC's) actions in selling the rights to registration plate AB1 and having done so, decide whether it wished to make a report to the PCC on the matter.
The Panel had before it a Report which covered the background to the issue, the Panel's role in relation to complaints, the Panel's role in relation to Scrutiny, a summary of complaints received relating to the sale of AB1, a Report from the PCC relating to the sale of AB1 and an exempt appendix to the Report of the PCC (circulated to Panel Members only).
The PCC was invited to present the detail of the process he followed in selling the AB1 Registration Plate:
· The PCC was concerned the regulations didn’t seem to be being followed in the spirit in which they were intended and although the Chairman suggested that he was not on trial, it could feel that way
· The Panel were advised that pages 15-29 of the Agenda contained detail on the process for sale and pages 31- 35 were the exempt shouldn’t be discussed public part of the meeting due to commercial sensitivity
· Specifically, the Panel's attention was drawn to pages 31 and 34 (exempt papers) which set out the offers received and the timeframe for sale as recommended by Brightwells (including how offers should be received to ensure transparency) and page15 which set out the timeline and sale process
· The PCC believed that the papers demonstrated a clear marketing strategy as suggested by Brightwells, who were instructed on 15 June 2017
· The value of the number plate was difficult to ascertain as all number plates were unique and worth what someone was willing to pay for them
· On 17 July 2017, after receiving a number of offers as detailed on page 31 of the exempt papers the PCC received a direct offer of £160,000 (which was considerably higher than any others received). The PCC was mindful that if this offer was accepted, it would be a private sale and would avoid the commission charge
· Following legal advice, on 18 July 2017 the Registration Plate was withdrawn from sale with Brightwells and a sale was agreed in principle with Mr West
· The necessary standard legal checks were undertaken including provenance of the funds to pay for the purchase under anti-money laundering legislation
· The sale was then completed on 8 August 2017 and although there had been a time lapse between the sale being agreed and completed, it was not unusual
· No higher offers than the one accepted were received. Other people had subsequently indicated via media that they would have paid more
· The PCC was confident that the process followed had given the maximum opportunity to the communities to achieve the highest value and had also avoided the commission charges.
Ultimately, the PCC believed that issues such as this could be very distracting but he was confident that the process stood up to scrutiny. He had put in ... view the full minutes text for item 245.
The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) gave a presentation regarding the 2018/19 budget proposals, Capital Programme and Medium Term Financial Plan. (2021-2022).
The Budget headlines were:
· £211m revenue budget
· Sustaining Police Constable (PC) and Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) numbers where possible
· Continued investment in transforming West Mercia Police
· 3.94% Council Tax increase (2p a day for typical household)
· £4.7m drawn down from budget reserve in 2018/19
In the context of:
· Recorded Crime being up 10%
· RPI being 4.1% (at December 2017)
· Pay increase double the previously anticipated level for officers and staff
· Emerging threats to our communities
· Further reform of policing
The proposals would be funded by:
· Proposed 3.94% (£7.47) Council Tax increase +£1.6m revenue over existing strategy
· Council tax base increase 17/18 to 18/19 1.66%, (future years 1.5% growth estimate)
· Stable Government grants of £120m +£1.562m over existing strategy
· £4.7m contribution from budget reserve in 2018/19 (compared with £9.7m in 17/18)
· Balanced budget delivered in 2019/20
Councillor Sebastian Bowen, Chairman of the Budget Task Group, which looked at the proposed budget, MTFP and the Policing Plan, introduced his report on the proposals. He thanked the Commissioner and his staff for the clarity of their written and oral presentation, the other members of the group as well as Mark Sanders, Worcestershire County Council's Senior Finance Officer, for assisting them. Reference was made to the Task Group's Report that had been circulated as part of the Agenda papers.
Subject to the results of the PCC's 2018/19 Budget Consultation which closed on 19 January, the Task Group was supportive of the PCC's financial strategy for the Budget proposals for 2018/ 2019 and the Medium Term Financial Plan through to 2021/2022 in context of the Policing Plan but would wish to be advised of substantial variations to the ambitious Savings Plans.
The Task Group felt the Government's settlement was encouraging and the PCC's reasons given for the proposed Council Tax increase of 4% in 2018/19 were fair. They also welcomed the advance notice that in 2019/2020, a 3% increase would be suggested.
The Task Group looked forward to the delivery of the improvements to the West Mercia estate particularly the modern police stations at Hereford and Shrewsbury, as well as the continued modernisation of police force and the maintenance of the numbers of PC's and PCSO's. It was felt that adequate reserves should be set aside for new IT Systems.
The Task Group in its Report recommended that the Panel considered:
(i) whether the Policing Plan supported by an ambitious transformation programme would be deliverable with the resources for the coming year and the expectation of the Medium Term Financial Plan: and
(ii) in light of the Report provided by the Budget Task Group and taking into account PCC's Budget Consultation results, it would wish to approve the precept recommendation for 2018/19.
In addition, Cllr Bowen suggested that the Panel may also wish to consider:
(iii) whether the level of reserves going forward were adequate for potential risks; and
(iv) the need ... view the full minutes text for item 246.
The Panel was invited to consider the Police & Crime Plan Activity and Performance Monitoring Report (October-December 2017) and determine whether it would wish to carry out any further scrutiny or make any comments.
In presenting the report, the PCC and the Deputy PCC highlighted:
· Perpetrator Programme, where preparatory work was underway to enable the Drive perpetrator programme to be implemented in Worcestershire. Worcestershire had been chosen as the project location as it had the highest number of cases referred into Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC).
· Missing Persons – The number of missing persons had seen a 9% reduction across West Mercia. Whilst there was usually a seasonal reduction in the autumn there had been a marked decrease of 21% in Telford and Wrekin in the last quarter due to a refreshed focus on missing people as part of Operation Vesta.
· The PCC had reviewed his monthly Holding To Account (HTA) sessions with the Chief Constable and had revised them align with the Safer West Mercia Plan for 2018 and would hold:
Ø Four performance sessions
Ø Five thematic sessions
Ø Two public sessions
Ø One consolidation session
During the discussion, the following points were made:
· Colour copies of the Performance Summary Report which was normally attached as an appendix (in colour) would in future only be made available on request, but would be referenced by a web link in the covering report. It was confirmed however that the covering report would include the summary page of performance and commentary
· Some feedback was provided by a Panel Member about the Rural and Business Crime Officers, which it was thought was inspirational and positive and would greatly benefit the rural communities
· In the last two months of 2017 HMICFRS published two force-specific inspection reports as part of its rolling PEEL inspection programme:
Ø PEEL Efficiency (including leadership) where West Mercia was graded ‘good’ in the three areas of focus for this year’s inspection and received an overall grading of ‘good’; the same as last year. There were no recommendations made but there were two areas for improvement.
· The force should ensure that it had effective systems and processes in place that enable it to understand how efficiently its investigative model supports the transfer of investigations.
· The force should conduct a leadership skills audit that would allow it to understand leadership capacity and capability
Ø PEEL Legitimacy (including leadership) where West Mercia was graded ‘requires improvement’ in the three areas of focus for this year’s inspection and received an overall grading of ‘requires improvement’; the force was graded ‘good’ last year. There were no recommendations made but there were eight areas for improvement which were:
· The force should ensure that all relevant officers had received sufficient, suitable training to enable them to use powers of arrest only when necessary.
· The force should improve its process for regularly and frequently scrutinising a broad range of data and information, including from body-worn video, to understand its use of force and improve how its workforce treats ... view the full minutes text for item 247.
In November 2017 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published a national progress report on the police response to domestic abuse. The report was a follow up to two previous reports on domestic abuse the first of which was published in 2014 and the second, an initial progress report, was published in 2015.
In 2014 individual force reports were published alongside the national one, however, since that time inspectorate oversight of domestic abuse has been subsumed into the PEEL inspection programme.
The PCC was not required to respond directly to the Home Secretary on the findings from HMICFRS’ thematic reports, only on force specific inspection reports. The PCC did however issue a media release in response to the report following its release and had detailed in the Agenda Report his objectives and the services which were currently being commissioned.
· The PCC was commended on this Report
· There was a concern that in certain areas of domestic abuse in England and Wales (page 42 of the Agenda) numbers were increasing. The PCC explained that in some instances there was a rise in the crime but also there was increased reporting and a greater confidence in reporting crime
· Reference was made to the graph (Figure 13) on page 186 of the Agenda which suggested that over 50% of West Mercia victims wouldn’t support police action in the case of domestic abuse crimes. The PCC explained that there were a number of factors that would influence this but that it was on his radar, been subject to his HTA in January and that there was an action plan in place to address the issues, which would hopefully see the situation show a gradual improvement.
· The point was made that the statistics in Figure 13 were 2016 and therefore dated. The PCC suggested that unfortunately, the HMICFRS Reports usually contained dated statistics
· It was questioned how the national shortage of detectives affected the situation when a domestic abuse crime had been reported in West Mercia. The PCC was confident that there were sufficient detectives in West Mercia but suggested that for a victim reporting a crime it was how the crime was dealt with that was important to them not who was actually investigating it. It wasn’t necessarily appropriate for a detective to deal with all of these crimes and in fact many of the crimes could be dealt with by front line operational officers
· It was noted that on average, there were 52 instances of domestic violence before the first report by the victim was made. The PCC not only wanted to improve the police response but also the confidence of victims to report these cases earlier.
The Report was noted.
At the request of the Chairman, the PCC was asked to explain to the Panel about the work that he engaged in outside of Policing including those activities which were no longer carried out and any new activities which had been introduced.
Among other requirements under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.
This fitted with the responsibility of the PCC to work with partners to arrange for the "efficient transaction of criminal justice policy in the area" and co-operating with local community safety partners and funding crime and disorder reduction strategies.
The Panel received a presentation from the DPCC which covered:
· Victim Services
· Criminal Justice
· Prevention and Diversion
Following the presentation, the following main points were made:
· In terms of working with prisons, the DPCC had been working with HMP Hewell to arrange family intervention days. There was a well-known statistic that if prisoners could be kept in touch with their families they were 40% less likely to reoffend
· The previous PCC had supported the Inside Products Initiative to develop the skill of prisoners. Although a worthy concept, it proved to be a difficult initiative but skills for prisoners were important. The PCC believed that more needed to be done at regional given the geographical mix of prisoners
· Working with perpetrators could only be done on voluntary basis as it had to be consensual
· The pattern of offending, multi-disciplinary network of mentoring and activity for 13-24 year olds was a massive challenge and the Panel would like further statistics for trends in this area.