Minutes of Meeting of the Northern Joint Police Board held in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness on Friday, 14 September 2007 at 10.30 a.m.
Representing the Highland Council
Mr G M Smith, Mr W MacKay, Mrs D MacKay, Mr W J Ross, Mr M Rattray, Mr D Chisholm, Mr G Marsden (Substitute), Mr I Renwick, Mrs P Munro, Mr P Corbett, Mr N Donald, Mr J Finnie, Mr D Cameron, Mrs E McAllister (Substitute)
Representing Western Isles Council
Mr N M Macleod, Mr C Nicolson, Mr P Carlin, Mr I Mackenzie
Representing Orkney Islands Council
Mr A A Drever, Mr R K Leslie
Representing Shetland Islands Council
Mr A Duncan, Mr J Budge (Substitute)
Also in attendance as an Observer
Mr C Fraser (Highland Council)
Officials in attendance:
Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable, Chief Superintendent L Stewart, Chief Superintendent B Duncan, Mr P Fraser, Force Head of Finance and Asset Management, Ms E Ward, Force Budget Accountant, Mr A Macleod, Force Estates Manager, Mr P Lamont, Force Head of Administration, Mr D Robertson, Treasurer’s Office, Ms R Pieroni, Clerk, Mrs R Moir, Assistant Clerk, Mrs C Nicoll, Clerk’s Office
Mr N M Macleod in the Chair
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies were intimated on behalf of Mr J Rosie, Mr H Fraser, Mr A Millar and Mr B J Murphy of The Highland Council and Mr A Cooper of Shetland Islands Council.
2. Presentation on the Public Performance Report 2006/07
The Chief Constable made a presentation to the Board on the Public Performance Report 2006/07.
During the presentation, Members were advised that the Highlands and Islands continued to be one of the safest places in the UK to live and work due to low levels of recorded crime and high rates of crime detection. The Force had worked consistently to develop and continue delivering a positive contribution to the wellbeing of the Highlands and Islands and the Chief Constable was pleased that the Force’s modern but traditional approach to operational policing had proved a success with communities.
The Chief Constable outlined the Force key strategic priorities to protecting the wellbeing of communities and informed Members that the emphasis on delivering local policing services visibly within local communities would continue. As examples of good performance the Chief Constable reported that the detection rate had increased overall, with 65% of crime having been detected; there had been a 7% reduction in road traffic offences; and an increase of 19% in the detection of drugs offences. A new anti-social behaviour fixed penalty scheme had been rolled out throughout the Force area, which would reduce bureaucracy for officers and would also enable them to address issues concerning anti-social behaviour more quickly.
In conclusion, the Chief Constable was pleased to report that the Force had made significant achievements during the course of the previous year and would continue to work to reinforce local policing strategies and strengthen the working relationship with communities and organisations throughout the Highlands and Islands. He expressed his gratitude for the valuable support received from the former Board Members during their time in office and looked forward to working with the new Board to further develop and maintain the Force’s distinctive approach to policing in future years.
Members welcomed the presentation and acknowledged the important role of the Board in supporting the Force in its work in ensuring the safety of communities. The Convener thanked all officers and staff for their commitment and continuing hard work.
In reply to a query raised, Members were informed that the Force was currently exploring the introduction of new technologies to help improve service delivery and the Chief Constable undertook to submit a report to a future meeting of the Board outlining potential developments for the future. Members were also informed of the third party reporting mechanism currently in operation providing an opportunity for people to report crimes more easily without feeling uncomfortable or intimidated.
Thereafter, the Board NOTED the presentation.
3. Minutes – Previous Meeting
There had been circulated and were APPROVED the Minutes of the Board Meeting of 15 June 2007, subject to an amendment to item 7(viii) to clarify that the Convener and Vice Convener should be included in the list of appointments to the Northern Joint Police Board and Police Staff Associations Liaison Group.
The Board also NOTED that, arising from item 9(ii), the Vice Convener had recently been appointed by COSLA to the Official Side of the Negotiating Body for Police Officers.
4. Minutes – Audit Working Group
There had been circulated and were APPROVED the Minutes of Audit Working Group of 30 August 2007 .
The Chief Constable referred to the recent Internal Audit Review and advised that Action Plans were now in place to address the recommendations arising from this review. Progress made in implementing the Action Plans would be closely monitored by the Audit Working Group. The Board NOTED the position.
Members were advised that, at its meeting held on 25 November 2004, the Board had appointed Mr Alan Simpson, Head of Legal Services of the Highland Council, as the Board’s Monitoring Officer. The Board at its meeting on 22 November 2006 had agreed that, in view of Mr Simpson’s long term sickness absence, the then Director of Corporate Services, the Highland Council, be appointed Interim Monitoring Officer until further notice. Members were informed that, following the retirement of Mr Simpson, Miss Leslie Johnstone had been confirmed as Acting Head of Legal Services, the Highland Council.
The Board AGREED to appoint Miss Johnstone as Monitoring Officer to the Board, until further notice.
6. Revenue Budget Monitoring Statement 2007/08
There had been circulated Report No. pol-37-07 dated 7 September 2007 comprising a statement and commentary by the Chief Constable on Revenue Expenditure and Income for the period to 31 August 2007.
Members were advised that pensions continued to be the most unpredictable area of the Force budget. During August a large payment had been made in respect of the transfer of accumulated pension funds for an officer who had retired from the Force. This payment had been covered by the pensions budget. However, provision for any further ill-health or early retirals in the current financial year would not be sustainable within the allocated budget.
The Convener reported that, at the recent meeting of the Conveners’ Forum, he had requested that the matter of police pensions be considered by the Forum at the next meeting to be held on 2 November 2007, with a view to seeking the transfer of responsibility for police pension funds from local authorities to the new Scottish Government. The Convener advised that similar arrangements were already in operation in England and Wales and agreed to keep Members informed of any progress made on this matter.
The Board NOTED the position.
7. Capital Expenditure Monitoring Statement 2007/08
There had been circulated Report No. pol-38-07 dated 7 September 2007 comprising a statement and commentary by the Chief Constable on Capital Expenditure for the period to 31 August 2007.
In speaking to the report, the Chief Constable informed Members that the Force ICT Support and Development would be transferred to the Scottish Police Services Authority in April 2008. Detailed discussions regarding this transfer were ongoing and a further report would be brought to a future meeting of the Board outlining the agreed transfer process.
The Board NOTED the position.
8. Capital Expenditure Out-turn 2006/07
There had been circulated Report No. pol-38a-07 dated 10 September 2007 presenting the capital expenditure out-turn for 2006/07.
In speaking to the report, the Chief Constable reported that the overall expenditure level was 73.3% of the budget capital expenditure for 2006/07 and explained the reasons for the slippage in Estates projects. He encouraged a cautious approach to capital spend for the moment to ensure capital investment was readily available for future ‘invest to save’ programmes and was pleased to report that the Force was currently in a healthy position with regard to available capital reserves.
The Board NOTED the position.
9. Estate Management Programme
There had been circulated Report No. pol-39-07 dated 3 September 2007 by the Chief Constable presenting a comprehensive progress report on Northern Constabulary’s Housing Management Review initiated by the Chief Constable in 2004/05, together with a summary on progress on Capital Projects.
In reply to queries relating to the Force Housing Management Review and the transfer of Police housing stock to local Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), Members were advised that the levels of removal and transfer allowances were reviewed on an annual basis and that guidance was available for officers detailing the allowances available to them. All sitting tenants would be allowed to remain in their existing residences once the transfer to RSLs had been completed, with those who wished to continue their residency being required to sign up to new missives of let with the RSLs. Retiring officers would have the option to occupy their residences post-service and would also be required to sign up to new missives of let should they wish to do so. The option of right to buy would depend on the charitable status of the RSL. Members were reassured that access to housing would be provided to officers transferring to the areas covered by the RSLs to allow the continuity of business in that area.
Reference was also made to the proposed Joint Review with the Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service of outsourced Estate Management Services, which it was hoped might provide an opportunity for cost savings and efficiency improvements.
Thereafter, the Board NOTED the progress on Capital Works and APPROVED:
i. in principle, the transfer of the Islands’ Housing Stock to local Registered
ii. the appointment of the Convener, Vice-Convener, Mr R K Leslie (OIC) and
Mr A Duncan (SIC) to the Housing Management Review Team; and
iii. a Joint Review of outsourced Estate Management Services with the
Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue Service.
10. Procurement Report
There had been circulated and was NOTED Report No. pol-40-07 dated June 2007 by the Chief Constable providing Members with an update on recent procurement activity.
11. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC): Northern Constabulary Primary Report 2005 – Update on Action Plan
There had been circulated Report No.pol-41-07 dated 3 September 2007 by the Chief Constable providing Members with an update on progress made against the HMIC recommendations/areas of concern from the HMIC Primary Inspection 2005.
The Chief Constable advised that each of the 11 recommendations arising from the HMIC Primary Inspection of 2005 was now complete. HMIC had endorsed the progress made by the Force in addressing the recommendations and had advised that there was now no requirement to revisit the Force for a second inspection.
Members commended the work of the Force in addressing the recommendations of the HMIC Primary Inspection 2005 and also the work being done by the Force in establishing its third party reporting mechanism. The Chief Constable reassured Members that the Force was currently considering improvements to this service and that progress was being monitored by the Force Diversity Working Group.
The Board NOTED the position.
12. Northern Constabulary Gender Equality Scheme
There had been circulated Report No. pol-42-07 by the Chief Constable presenting Northern Constabulary’s first Gender Equality Scheme.
The Chief Constable explained that work had been carried out with other Police Forces through the ACPOS Diversity Business Area to develop a national template for Gender Equality Schemes, and the Force’s own scheme reflected the balance and priorities within the Force area. The Force had also worked with the ACPOS Gender Issues Reference Group and with the Equal Opportunities Commission in developing the Scheme. The Equal Opportunities Commission would play a role in monitoring the progress of the Scheme’s supporting action plan.
The Board AGREED to endorse the First Northern Constabulary Gender Equality Scheme and to adopt the Equal Pay Statement contained at Appendix 2 as the Board’s Statement also, to be appended to the Board’s Gender Equality Scheme.
13. Management of Major Events
At its meeting held on 15 June 2007, the Board had noted that a report on the recovery of costs for the provision of policing services at major events would be submitted to this meeting.
In this connection, there had been circulated Report No. pol-43-07 dated 5 September 2007 by the Chief Constable outlining the position of the Force in the management of major events. The Chief Constable explained that, while large-scale events continued to play a part in the economy of the area, they did have an impact on policing services. In relation to major commercial events such as premier league football or major festivals, the Force negotiated hard on cost recovery. These funds were then released back to the Area Commands to allow them to supplement the operational policing within that Command.
It was also vitally important for the Force to play a role in smaller community events. The Force did not routinely charge for these smaller events as they were considered to be part of the routine policing role.
In reply to a query raised concerning security arrangements for major commercial events, the Chief Constable advised that multi-agency debriefings were held with the organisers to address concerns or issues arising from the events, to avoid any recurrence in the future. Members were also informed that the Force took a very proactive approach in the policing of major premier league football matches.
Following further discussion, the Board NOTED the position and congratulated the Force for their efficient handling of the recent World Mountain Biking Championships in Lochaber.
14. Chief Constable’s Periodic Report
There had been circulated Report No. POL44/07 by the Chief Constable comprising his Periodic Report and covering the following issues:-
i. Crime and Road Accident Statistics;
ii. Crime Situation;
iii. Update from Operational Support Service Unit ; and
iv. Mountain Rescues
Members were advised that the Force continued to perform well. The Force detection rate currently stood at 63.3%. Reported crime had increased by 11.2%, the majority of this increase resulting from crimes of dishonesty. Under the new Scottish Crime Recording Standard several cases required to be recorded as multiple crimes, including a cheque fraud which had resulted in 30 separate charges, a fraud in Caithness resulting in 127 charges and a fraud in Lochaber which had resulted in over 100 crimes being recorded. The reporting of drug related crimes had also increased as a direct result of the Force’s ongoing proactive approach to drugs offences. Class 1 crimes, such as serious assault, had decreased by 13%.
In relation to road safety, the Force continued to achieve the national targets and although there had been a slight increase in the number of fatal road accidents, there had been a decrease in the number of road accidents involving serious injuries. A ‘bike safe’ scheme was currently in operation throughout the Force area encouraging the safe operation of motorcycles and to date approximately 50 people had signed up to this scheme.
Members welcomed the report and congratulated the Police for their handling of the recent Norwegian Royal Visit to Shetland. In reply to queries raised concerning the use of CCTV in crime investigation, the Chief Constable advised that this had proved an extremely valuable investigative tool and had helped considerably in the reduction of crime in town centres. Most town centres in the Force area now had the benefit of CCTV coverage. Mention was made of the funding needed to maintain the CCTV systems throughout the Force area and Members suggested that the new Scottish Government be approached with a view to taking on the responsibility for the revenue costs for the maintenance and running of these systems. The Convener agreed to raise this issue at a future meeting of the Conveners’ Forum in view of the valuable assistance it had provided the Force in its investigative work.
Queries were also raised concerning the recovery of assets as a result of crimes. In reply, the Chief Constable explained that the Force had a priority to enforce and restrain assets as quickly as possible and had established a small and effective financial investigation unit to carry out this work. This was a very skilled unit and had achieved some notable successes in the recovery of assets, including the recovery of a large amount of money from a fisheries fraud. The Force had worked with other agencies, including the Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency, who provided valuable support and expertise, and also the Crown Office, in the use of civil proceedings, where appropriate, to seize assets.
Following further discussion, the Board NOTED the position.
15. Letters of Appreciation
There had been tabled for noting 44 letters of appreciation by the Chief Constable for the period 1 May to 31 July 2007. There had also been circulated and was NOTED Report No. pol-45-07 by the Chief Constable illustrating some letters of appreciation.
16. Complaints against the Police
There had been circulated and was NOTED Report No. pol-46-07 dated 7 August 2007 by the Chief Constable regarding complaints against Police Officers from 1 May to 31 July 2007.
The Board AGREED that the Complaints Books specifying complaints against the Northern Constabulary, which had been available for inspection by Members prior to the meeting, be declared exempt information by virtue of Paragraph 1 of Part I of Schedule 7A of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.
17. Execution of Deeds
The Board NOTED the deed recently executed on behalf of the Board, as set out in the Agenda for the meeting.
18. Police Appeals Tribunal
At its meeting held on 15 June 2007, the Board had agreed to appoint the Convener as the Board’s representative to sit on any future Police Appeals Tribunal that might be established, and also Mr Peter Corbett as substitute representative, should such be required.
Members were advised that the Board had been required to establish such a Tribunal in terms of the Police Appeals Tribunals (Scotland) Rules 1996. The remaining three places required to be filled from the following categories:
- a chairman drawn from a list approved by the Lord President of the Court of Session;
- a serving or retired (within the previous five years) Chief Constable, other than one who was or had been Chief Constable of Northern Constabulary; and
- a retired constable “of appropriate rank”.
Following enquiries by the Clerk as Registrar to the Tribunal, the following individuals had confirmed they were willing to serve on this Tribunal:
- Mr Roy Martin QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates (Tribunal Chairman)
- Mr Andrew Brown, former Chief Constable, Grampian Police, and also formerly Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary
- Mr Norman MacLeod, retired Constable, Lothian & Borders Police, and former Deputy General Secretary, Scottish Police Federation.
The Board APPROVED the above appointments to the Police Appeals Tribunal.
The meeting ended at 12 noon.