Agenda and minutes

Cumbria Police and Crime Panel
Thursday, 28th January, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: This will be a virtual meeting, therefore, will not take place in a physical location. To view this event please click link below:

Contact: Lynn Harker  Email: lynn.harker@cumbria.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

18.

Roll Call for Members and Officers

Minutes:

All of the above members and officers were present at the meeting.

 

19.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

 

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Mr P McSweeney.

 

20.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.

 

21.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the Agenda.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED,    that the press and public be not excluded from the meeting for any items of business on this occasion.

 

22.

Public Participation

To receive any items of public participation.

 

(Questions and petitions must be received in writing by Lynn Harker, Senior Democratic Services Officer at least seven working days before the date of the Panel meeting).

 

Minutes:

There were no items of public participation to be considered at this meeting.

 

23.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 16 October 2020 (copy enclosed).

 

Minutes:

With reference to minute 9 – Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner’s Annual Report 2019-20 a discussion took place regarding the request for the installation of CCTV in Barrow Park.  The Deputy Chief Executive (Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC)) confirmed this was being evaluated by Cumbria Constabulary’s CCTV Manager and a response would be provided soon.

 

RESOLVED,that the minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2020 be confirmed as a correct record.

 

24.

Revenue Budget Monitoring - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 354 KB

(1)    Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Budget Report

 

To receive a report from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (copy enclosed).

 

(2)    Cumbria Constabulary Budget Report

 

To consider a report from Cumbria Constabulary (copy enclosed).

 

Minutes:

(1)    Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Budget Report

 

The Panel received a report from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner which provided the Commissioner’s Financial Summary 2020/21 forecast as at 30 September 2020. 

 

Members noted expenditure and income variances included reductions in staffing of £5k, transport £3k, printing and other running costs £5k and depreciation +£10k.  It was explained there was additional expenditure on premises of £113k which was mainly for additional cleaning due to COVID 19 and small overspends on utilities and maintenance together with a reduction in investment income of £70k.

 

The Panel was informed that funding provided to the Constabulary was +£122k, and that the total overspend of £393k was due to additional costs incurred in response to COVID 19 (PPE, sanitisers, ICT costs and overtime).  It was explained this was mitigated by reimbursement from Government and indirect savings from other budgets as a result of reduced activity during the pandemic such as travel, fuel and training. 

 

Members highlighted the importance of training and welcomed the efforts which had been made to continue this during the pandemic, particularly with regards to the additional police officers.

 

The Panel was informed that the overall underspending on non COVID 19 related Constabulary activities was forecast at £271k and noted the effects of the reduction in interest rates.

 

(2)    Cumbria Constabulary Revenue Budget 2020/21

 

The Panel considered a report from Cumbria Constabulary which provided details of the Constabulary’s Revenue Budget Monitoring 2020/21. 

 

Members noted that an overall overspend of £122k was forecast on the Constabulary budget; £393k related to additional costs arising from COVID-19 which left a core underspend of £271k on other budgets. 

 

It was explained there were a number of additional costs arising from Operation Lectern (COVID 19 response) which included additional PPE, investment in ICT to facilitate homeworking across the Constabulary and overtime for enforcement activities to ensure there were sufficient resources to police the pandemic.

 

The Panel was informed that the forecast budget overspend at the end of September had reduced by £570k compared to the £629k forecast at the of June.  It was explained that the reduction was largely due to the announcement of Government grants to reimburse forces for loss of income and some costs associated with COVID enforcement.  Members noted that changes to forecasting assumptions had also been made to reflect the fact that reduced activity in some areas as a result of the pandemic would last for the full year.

 

The Panel received an update on Operation Uplift, a Government programme to recruit an additional 20,000 additional police officers countywide. 

 

Members were informed that the forecast spend on Operation Uplift reflected that Cumbria’s recruitment target of an additional 51 full?time equivalent officers was achieved early in the 2020/21 financial year.  It was explained that further intakes of recruits were planned in the remainder of the year to contribute to the second phase of the Programme.  The Panel noted that staffing requirements to support the Programme, particularly with regards  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Police and Crime Commissioner Precept Proposals

Minutes:

The Commissioner gave a short overview of the impact of the current pandemic on the budget and anticipated this would continue for the foreseeable future.  He informed the Panel that a proportion of the additional costs had been refunded by Government but there was an expectation that further funding would continue with the requirement of additional PPE and staff overtime.

 

Members were informed that during the pandemic the current Assistant Chief Constable had been appointed as the Chair of the Strategic Co-ordination Group.  It was explained this had resulted in additional expenditure due to an initial three months appointment of a Temporary Assistant Chief Constable which would be monitored and kept under review.  Whilst members agreed with the appointment during the critical phase of the pandemic they felt this burden should be shared and become a multi?agency approach shared by local councils when moving into the recovery phase.

 

The Commissioner went on to inform the Panel that the expected three year Financial Settlement had been reduced to a one year Settlement which had made planning more difficult.  He explained the Government continued their commitment to Operation Uplift and had largely funded the next tranche of new recruits.  Members noted that the establishment of PCSOs remained at 95 with the actual number being approximately 65 and all recruitment efforts being aimed at police officers.  It was confirmed there was still a commitment to deploy police officers in small rural towns across the county but this had not been fully effective due to the current pandemic.

 

In conclusion, the Commissioner explained to the Panel that he was one of only two police and crime commissioners across the country who was not requesting to increase Council Tax by or close to the maximum allowed figure of £15.  He explained that collaborative work had been undertaken with the Chief Constable and Finance Team to minimise this amount to £6.57 for Band D properties.

 

The Chair and Vice?Chair, on behalf of the Panel, asked that their thanks and appreciation be portrayed to Assistant Chief Constable Andy Slattery for the work he was undertaking during the current pandemic.

25a

Revenue Budget and Medium Term Financial Forecast pdf icon PDF 402 KB

(enclosed).

Minutes:

The Panel considered a report from the Cumbria Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner which provided a detailed analysis of the figures contained within the Revenue budget for 2021/22 and the Medium Term Financial Forecast (MTFF) to 2024/25. 

 

Members were also provided with a more detailed analysis of the budgets for 2021/22 together with comparative information from the 2020/21 approved budget together with additional information in respect of the more unusual aspects of the budget and explanations where the budgets had changed significantly between the years.

 

During the course of discussion a Member asked a question regarding the Commissioner’s arrangements for providing public assurance in respect of value for money, in the context of HMICFRS data regarding crimes and outcomes per officer and the increase in officer numbers from 1120 to 1293.  It was agreed that a report on the Accountability Framework would be considered at a future meeting of the Panel.

 

A member drew attention to the increase in pension contributions to a police officer’s salary.  Officers explained this was a top?up payment and the figure was dependent on the number of officers retiring.  During the course of discussion it was confirmed that the overall pension contribution of 31% was set nationally with a review due to be undertaken in 2022/23.  It was explained there were early indications that this figure would increase significantly, therefore, £1m had been allocated to this in the event that this was not funded from the Home Office.

 

A discussion took place regarding vehicle replacement and officers confirmed most vehicles which were surplus to requirements were sold at auction with minimal income received for them. 

 

The Panel drew attention to the allowances and expenses costs and officers explained this referred to the four members of the Joint Audit Committee and Ethics and Integrity Panel together with any expenses incurred by independent custody visitors.

 

A member then made reference to the expenditure for police doctors and surgeons and officers confirmed this was to cover the cost of the service commissioned for healthcare professionals in the custody suite. 

 

A discussion then took place regarding the premises related expenditure and the costs association with Hunter Lane Police Station, Penrith.  Members drew attention to the significant utility costs and suggested this be brought to the attention of Eden District Council. 

 

The Panel discussed the potential use of electric vehicles.  The Commissioner explained that currently electrical vehicle commitment was very limited due to their performance but that the Force hoped to increase their fleet as technology improved.  In response to a question regarding the use of electric vehicle charging points by the public across police estates it was felt this would be unlikely due to security issues.

 

RESOLVED,  that

 

                   (1)    the report be noted;

 

                   (2)    the Accountability Framework be considered at a future meeting of the Panel.

25b

Draft Capital Programme 2021/22 and Beyond pdf icon PDF 715 KB

(enclosed).

Minutes:

Members received a report which provided information regarding the proposed Capital Programme for 2021/22 and beyond, both in terms of capital expenditure projections and the financing available to fund such expenditure.  The Panel noted that the Capital Programme was developed in consultation with the Constabulary who were the primary user of the capital assets under the ownership of the Commissioner.

 

A Member drew attention to the low net capital receipt for the sale of  Milnthorpe Police Station and felt this did not reflect the price of properties in the area.  Officers confirmed that the property had been sold at the open market value.

 

During the course of discussion a Member asked a question regarding the amount of budget provision for the Emergency Services Network and Airwave Schemes.  Officers confirmed that the latest advice from officials was that central funding was unlikely, the impact being that this may place further pressure on the budgets.

 

The Panel discussed ‘Other Schemes’ and officers confirmed that detailed planning was underway to ascertain exactly where the funding was required, explaining that until that was complete it would be held in total under this budget heading.

 

RESOLVED,  that the proposed Capital Strategy for 2021/22 and beyond, as part of the overall budget process for 2021/22, be noted.

25c

Precept Consultation Responses

To receive a verbal update.

Minutes:

The Panel received a verbal update on the Precept Consultation responses and noted the methodology used.

 

The consultation represented a significant proportion of the population and returned a 69% approval of the Commissioner’s proposed increase to the Council Tax precept.

 

A Member asked how much Council Tax was proposed for investment in each of the priority areas identified in the Council Tax consultation, and what arrangements would be put in place to ensure improvements in those areas were proportionate to the additional funding.  Officers advised that there was not a direct link between the increase in Council Tax funding and the priority areas within the Council Tax consultation, but that the arrangements for ensuring improvements could be undertaken would be reported to the Panel as part of the paper on the Accountability Framework.

 

RESOLVED,  that the information be noted.

25d

Precept Proposal and Medium Term Budget 2021/22 to 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 429 KB

(enclosed).

 

Minutes:

Members considered a report from the Cumbria Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner which provided an overview of the medium term financial outlook.  The report included the proposal for the precept that the Commissioner was presenting to the Panel for their views as part of his budget setting process.

 

The Panel noted that the precept proposal for 2021/22 was for an increase in the precept of 2.47%, which was an increase of £6.57 per annum for a band D property and took the total police element of the precept at band D to £272.16.

 

Members were informed that a survey of the precept intentions undertaken by the Police and Crime Commissioners Treasurers Society in early January had indicated that the average council tax increase being proposed was £13.48.  It was explained that 20 out of 29 Commissioners who had responded were expecting to increase council tax by or close to the maximum allowed figure of £15.00.

 

The Panel was informed that the net budget requirement comprised expenditure by the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Constabulary for 2021/22 was £115.410m.  It was explained this was the total net expenditure funded externally by income from the Home Office Police Grant and Council Tax and represented a real terms increase of income of 4.73% compared to 2020/21. 

 

A discussion took place and a question was asked regarding the purpose of the commissioned services reserve and the impact of the real terms funding reduction in commissioned services.  Officers advised that the reserve was being retained to manage changes in the Victim Support Contract and contracts for the Bridgeway Mental Health Rehabilitation Service and there could be an impact on services within this area arising from the budget plans.

 

A member asked whether the income from the Home Office could be utilised to invest.  Officers explained that due the current rates of interest the funds were invested with the Government whilst assuring the Panel this was strictly monitored by the Joint Audit Committee.

 

RESOLVED,  that the report be noted.

 

26.

Draft Precept Proposals (Cumbria County Council) 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 800 KB

To consider a report by the Director of Finance (Cumbria County Council) (copy enclosed).

 

Minutes:

Members considered a report by the Director of Finance (Cumbria County Council) regarding the Draft Precept Proposals 2021/22.  The information accompanied the report from the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner which set out the proposed budget and precept for 2021/22 and explained the Panel’s options for decision-making.

 

The Panel was asked to review the proposed precept and decide whether to, support the precept without qualification or comment, support the precept and make recommendations or veto the proposed precept.

 

The Chair and Vice-Chair, on behalf of the Panel, thanked the Commissioner and his Team for the work they had undertaken regarding this matter and expressed their appreciation of the restraint shown in the proposed 2.47% precept increase.

 

It was MOVED by Miss H Fearon and SECONDED by Mr K Hamilton that the precept of 2.47% be supported without qualification.  Following a unanimous vote in favour of the motion, it was

 

RESOLVED,  that the precept of 2.47% be supported without qualification.

 

27.

Update on Complaints pdf icon PDF 420 KB

To consider a report from the Monitoring Officer (Cumbria County Council) (copy enclosed).

 

Minutes:

The Panel received a report from the Monitoring Officer (Cumbria County Council) which advised members of any complaints received in accordance with the Panel’s Complaints Procedure.  The report outlined where appropriate, what, if any, action had been taken in respect of the complaints.

 

The Panel noted that as at the date of the report and since the previous report, only one complaint had been received.  It was explained that on the face of the correspondence, however, there was no discernible complaint against the Commissioner and an appropriate response had been sent to the complainant with guidance as to matters which the Panel could consider. 

 

The Panel was informed that a further substantial amount of information had been received from the complainant.  It was explained this would need to be considered and a further update report made available at the next meeting of the Panel.

 

RESOLVED,  that

 

                   (1)    the report be noted;

 

                   (2)    a further update be made available at the next meeting of the Panel.

 

28.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Panel will be held on Tuesday 20 April 2021 at 10.30 am at a venue to be agreed.

 

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Panel was scheduled to be held virtually on Tuesday 20 April 2021 at 10.30 am. 

 

A discussion took place regarding the forthcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections and whilst it had still not been confirmed that they would take place due to the current pandemic it was agreed that if they did go ahead the meeting of the Panel scheduled for 20 April 2021 would be rescheduled.

 

Members were informed that Tim Gale, the Senior Policy and Scrutiny Project Officer was leaving his current position to take up a new post elsewhere in the County Council.  The Chair and Vice-Chair, on behalf of the Panel, thanked Tim for his dedication and support and wished him well for the future.