Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
Contact: Stephen Bace 01452 324204
The minutes were agreed as a correct record.
Declaration of Interests
No additional ones.
The Panel are to consider the attached report on the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Fire Governance Outline Business Case.
30.1 Martin Surl shared his outline business case for the Governance of the Fire and Rescue Service with the Panel for their comments. This document was out for consultation and the Commissioner would review it and decide whether to present it to the Home Secretary. In addition the Panel received a report from the Cabinet Member of Public Protection, Parking and Libraries at Gloucestershire County Council which provided an initial response to the Commissioner’s report and identified some inaccuracies.
30.2 The Panel discussed a number of concerns relating to the business case, most notably around the timing of revisiting this proposal and how this would impact on relationships between the Commissioner’s Office, the Council and other partners.
30.3 The Panel noted the information within the business case relating to the resignation of the Chief Fire Officer and the allegations brought forward. There was some discussion around that topic, particularly in relation to the Commissioner’s criticisms around the current governance for the Fire and Rescue Service. The Panel was reminded that this was the remit of the Audit and Governance Committee and that an Audit report had been published and that a task group had also been set up by scrutiny members looking at the culture of the Fire and Rescue Service. The Commissioner stated that he shared Members’ disappointment, but that it was necessary to reopen discussions as he could not ignore what he had heard. He formally requested to see more detailed work behind the published audit document. This was a matter that he would need to raise with the Cabinet Member.
30.4 The Panel recognised that should the business case be accepted by the Home Secretary and the governance arrangements change, that this would also lead to a change of role for the Police and Crime Panel which would also hold the Commissioner to account in relation to Fire.
30.5 One member raised the question around the Chief Constable position which had originally been kept temporary until the original queries around Fire Governance had been resolved. The Commissioner clarified that the recommendation was for the Governance model. This meant that should the business case be successful then the role of the Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer would remain distinct and the organisations would remain distinct. Within the legislation (Police and Crime Act 2017) there was explicitly no option of operational merger.
30.6 With regards to the timescale for revisiting the business case, members were informed that the Home Office needed to complete the legislative process 6 months before the Police and Crime Commissioners elections in May 2020 so that it was clear to the public what role they were electing to (PCC or PFCC). The consultation was running until 21 December and the business case would need to be submitted by February 2019.
30.7 Members raised the costs associated with changing governance and noted the Commissioner’s frustration around not having the detailed financial information he sought from the County Council around the Fire and Rescue Service. The ... view the full minutes text for item 30.
31.1 Paul Trott, Chief Executive, presented the report providing details on the actions of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office. One correction was made to the report that detailed the summary of decisions should read September to October.
31.2 There was some discussion around the
issue of employers pension contributions. The Treasury had
recalculated a formula which related to all public sector pension
schemes, but particularly hit the unfunded schemes such as the
Police. There would be an increase in the contributions that the
employer would have to make which equated to the Commissioner
needed to find an extra £1.7m in the coming financial year.
This would have a large impact on the budget and on areas of
planned investment if there was no additional support through
funding. It was recognised that the
contribution paid by local tax payers as part of the Police Precept
was become an increasing part of the overall police funding.
The Panel would be meeting in January to receive
details of the draft budget and the Commissioner’s plans
around the Police Precept. Further information would be provided at
31.3 Six new Independent Custody Visitors had been introduced and there was now a waiting list of people wishing to become volunteers. In response to questions it was explained that there was a good group of custody visitors in place and that there was a feeling that the current pool was sufficient to ensure that there was regularity of visits for all volunteers. Each volunteer carried out approximately six visits a year. A. lot of work had been carried out in order to diversify the group. An example of this was the work with the university in order to bring in a variety of experience and perspectives. Members congratulated the team on the excellent work with regards to custody visits.
The purpose of the Police and Crime Plan Priorities Quarterly Highlight Report is to provide all stakeholders with an update that monitors progress in respect of each of the Priorities, to include:
· Activities achieved during the current quarter;
· Activities expected during the next quarter;
· Any risks or issues identified will be managed through the risk and issue registers;
· Overview of budget
This report is a summary against activities. Members should note that this information is retrospective for the reporting quarter mentioned; as such it is an executive summary.
32.1 Richard Bradley introduced the report which detailed that for each of the six priorities within the Police and Crime Plan there was a priority lead. The plan worked across Gloucestershire and heavily involved partners.
32.2 Members noted increased exclusion rates in schools and the restorative practice work taking place .Gloucestershire had the highest rate of pupil exclusions in the South West. Cheltenham had the higher rate of exclusion in the County. A significant reduction in exclusions had been seen in those schools where restorative practice had been introduced. One member raised the issue around governance of schools and the effect of the introduction of academies. He suggested where a child is excluded the county council be aware and inform the police. The Commissioner explained that this did happen and Safer Gloucestershire had looked at this. Members noted they had received a briefing on Children First previously. Members commented on successful examples of how a restorative practice was working in communities and in some schools. The plan was to introduce this into more schools and move from a punitive approach which encouraged exclusion to a restorative approach which did not.
32.3 School based officers had been introduced by the Constabulary with four of the six already appointed. This had been a commitment by the Commissioner in relation to the increase in the Police Precept.
32.4 The Panel understood that with pressure on police resources, it was important to focus on the really tricky areas. At the same time, Members welcomed the focus on community policing. The Commissioner emphasised the continued commitment to neighbourhood policing which was challenging to deliver in response to financial pressures. Members were informed that Gloucestershire had been rated the highest in the country for dealing with vulnerability and a lot around modern day slavery. One member provided an example of police officers now unable to attend neighbourhood policing panels in one particular area. It was important that there was continued good communication in place but there could be no guarantee that they would always be able to attend every meeting.
32.5 Members asked for an update on the summer recruitment of officers. The Commissioner explained that the Constabulary was on track to recruit the full commitment, but that it took two years to train officers so that they were fully operational. He estimated that it would be another 6 months before the Constabulary was staffed up to budgeted levels.
32.6 The Panel were informed that there was a new priority lead for Safer Cyber and a new Police lead. It was explained that previous work under the priority had focused on businesses and that it was now time to focus on communities and where possible maximise the work of the Neighbourhood Watch and community alerts system. This would cascade information and understanding of cyber crime more effectively. There was some further discussion around national issues around cyber crime with members highlighting examples of issues around harm to children and fraudulent activity.
32.7 Members thanked the Commissioner ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
33.1 Paul Trott presented the report to the Panel stating that it was a procedure that was shared with the Constabulary. The Chairman explained that he had requested the item as the Council had reviewed its own and it was important that the Panel was satisfied that the Commissioner was happy with his own procedure.
33.2 In response to a question as to whether the Office was aware of any whistle-blowers whose identity had been revealed after following the procedure, the Panel were informed that the Commissioner’s Office was not aware of any issues of that nature.
33.3 It was suggested that within the procedure the contact details for the Police and Crime Panel including the website address should be provided.
33.4 One member asked how whistleblowing
events were reported. It was explained that since the current Chief
Executive of the Office had been in post there had only been one.
With regards to the Constabulary, the team would look at the
figures and update the Panel.
Safe and Social Driving
To receive a presentation on this priority area in the Police and Crime Plan.
The Chairman informed members that the item had been deferred until the next meeting.
To clarify the Panel’s representation on the National Association of Police and Crime Panels and the South West regional group.
34.1 Cllr Rob Garnham had been selected to be part of the Executive on the National Association of Police and Crime Panels. The Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Panel attended meetings. The Panel agreed that they were happy for Cllr Garnham to sit on this body. Cllr Hay has raised a concern at the meeting about the need for greater political representation on the executive of the Association.
34.2 It was agreed that the Panel would also be represented at South West Police and Crime Panel Chairs and Officer meetings.