Kent Police Headquarters, North Kent (also broadcast via Microsoft Teams Live)
Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner:
· Matthew Scott - Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)
· Adrian Harper - Chief Executive (CE)
· Tim Smith – Temporary Chief Constable (T/CC)
· Peter Ayling – Temporary Deputy Chief Constable (T/DCC)
· Ian Drysdale - Deputy Chief Officer (DCO)
Rob Phillips – PCC’s Chief Finance Officer
Welcome & Introduction
The PCC welcomed the T/CC, T/DCC, DCO and their team, and expressed his thanks for the papers.
Mr Phillips’ apologies were noted.
Notes of Previous Meeting – 31 October 2022
The notes were agreed as a true and accurate record and there were no matters outstanding.
Making Kent Safer Plan: Delivery & Performance
The T/CC advised that he would not read through the whole report but pick out some key areas/highlights.
Work with residents, communities and businesses to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour
The Force continued to see an increase in people signing up to My Community Voice (MCV); there was a concerted effort to promote its use as the preferred method of online engagement. Whilst not a replacement for other methods of contact, benefits included flexibility and being able to target specific groups (i.e. by geography, business type).
The Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) went live in September 2022; the T/CC said it allowed the Force to manage all digital information, intelligence and evidence in one system and was already seeing significant usage.
Victim based crime (August to October) reduced by 132 offences or 0.3%; importantly, the solved rate was 8.7%, an increase on 2020/21 and in terms of volume, 357 more charges and 42 cautions.
ASB (August to October) reduced by 487 incidents or 5.9%; largest reductions seen in rowdy or nuisance gathering in public down 8.3% and neighbour disputes/nuisance down 17.3%.
The T/CC advised the Force had a close relationship with the business community through the Business Crime Advisory Group. Noting a Business Crime day of action on 19 October was well supported with Town Centre Constables focusing on business crime and persistent offenders, the T/CC hoped the changes to the NH Policing model would provide more resource and opportunity to tackle business crime.
In terms of ‘safer’ campaigns, the T/CC advised they were themed seasonally and reported that 32 areas within Kent with high harm scores for violence were being supported by Grip funding.
Burglary Business and Community (August to October) increased by 57 offences or 12.8%; the T/CC said the Force was analysing the data to develop a plan for the future.
Burglary Residential (August to October) increased by 45 offences or 3.7%; noting an unusual and unanticipated increase in August likely linked to a crime series, the T/CC said the Force would build into next year’s plans.
Violent crime (August to October) decreased by 1,307 offences or 5.7%; the T/CC also reported an increase in the charge rate from 5.5% in 2021 to 6.1%.
The work of the Violence Reduction Unit continued and was contributing to the reduction in violent crime and increased interventions. The T/CC advised its medium-term objectives were focused on increasing agency collaboration and partnership work to prevent serious youth violence. Noting the introduction of the Serious Violence Duty, the T/CC said it would enable the Force to do even more with partners to reduce violent crime.
Robbery (August to October) increased by 46 offences or 15.7%; the T/CC also reported an increase in suspects arrested and interviewed which he hoped would translate to charges.
He said the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad predominantly focused on burglary residential and robbery offences and was achieving good results, including sentences totalling over 1,500 years imprisonment since its creation.
Noting MCV was a valuable tool, the PCC asked about Force plans to promote further to increase up take. The T/CC advised it was promoted on the website and sign up would be monitored; if necessary, the Force would consider a longer term and more sustained awareness raising campaign.
In relation to DAMS, the PCC asked about up take and how many times members of the public had used it. Noting it went live in September 2022, the T/CC reported that over 80,000 pieces of footage had been uploaded - over 7,000 directly from the public - and the Force had also shared items with the CPS and partners 29,000 times. Noting the Force was unable to quantify the efficiency savings as yet, he advised it was likely to save thousands of hours as each upload was potentially evidence that previously would have required collection and downloading. He also highlighted its importance as an evidential tool and in getting results quicker, referring to a recent example where it was used to obtain key footage from a shop which resulted in a CPS charging decision within 2 hours of submission. The T/CC described it as one of the more seismic changes in the way the Force managed information, intelligence and evidence. The DCO added 98% of the 80,000 loads and shares were successful on the first occasion.
Thanking the T/CC, the PCC said DAMS was good news and the examples were helpful; he asked that his gratitude be passed to the team that delivered the project.
With regards to the reduction in ASB, the PCC questioned whether it was linked to the challenges when calling 101. Acknowledging some incidents might not have been captured, the T/CC said he didn’t believe there was a direct correlation because reports of ASB had been decreasing since around May 2021, prior to the 101 performance issues. He added it was more likely a mark of the Force’s success in tackling ASB and the impact of societal changes.
Noting the Government’s emphasis on police attendance at burglaries, the PCC asked about current performance. The T/CC said the Government had set a clear direction and the Force would attend every residential burglary. However, he explained there were some exceptions which meant it would not hit 100% - for example where a building was derelict/abandoned, the victim/owner could not be traced or the victim denied police access. He added that in most residential burglaries an officer would attend and a CSI if there was forensic evidence.
With regards to acquisitive crime, the PCC asked about the Force’s prevention work with partners. Highlighting the Business Crime Reduction Partnership, the T/CC advised there was a lot to do and referred to the embedding of MCV in order to provide greater opportunities to identify where to focus activity. Noting the resources allocated to designing out crime, he added the ambition around the new Neighbourhood Policing model was to have more officers/staff in local communities with a remit to work with businesses and residents to prevent and reduce crime.
Tackle violence against women and girls
Whilst not new to the Force, the T/CC stated it was now central to the Control Strategy. He said significant model changes had been made in the past including moving hundreds of staff into roles working with vulnerable victims, adding that at its heart was domestic abuse (DA) and rape that disproportionately impacted women and girls.
The Force’s VAWG Strategy had five areas of focus:
holding offenders to account;
keeping people safe;
the Force’s internal culture - particularly staff standards, professional behaviour and sexual misconduct; and
strengthening the system with other CJ agencies - particularly the CPS and Courts, as well as dealing with the backlog of cases and subsequent impact on victims in terms of delays.
With regards to internal culture, the T/CC reported the Force had launched a sexism awareness video and work on the internal Counter Corruption Strategy had resulted in increased reporting. He said some was awareness, education and changes in behaviour, but sadly some related to officers breaching the standards and needed to be dealt with formally. The Force continued to encourage staff to report such matters and there was a focus on the importance of male officers standing up to inappropriate behaviour.
The T/CC advised the Force had implemented a clear dashboard as part of its performance framework around VAWG in its widest sense; not just the key categories of DA and rape, but all issues that affected women and girls.
The Ask Angela campaign had been launched on public transport and there was good partnership working via the DA and Sexual Abuse Executive Group and joint Kent Chief’s Executive Board. The T/CC said the Serious Violence Duty would provide greater opportunities to work with partners, but Kent Police would continue to be the lead agency.
The PCC asked for an update on the implementation of Kay’s law, which enabled victims’ views to be considered when setting bail conditions. Explaining it was early days, the T/CC said custody sergeants would be responsible for ensuring the officer in the case had consulted with the victim and would effectively not authorise bail until confirmed. He added where it was not possible to remand to custody, the officer in the case would update the victim and seek their views; importantly, this also provided an opportunity to re-check the safeguarding plan around them.
The T/CC said there were Phoenix Teams dedicated to investigating rape offences and Sexual Offence Liaison Officers who were trained to an enhanced level to respond to, and support rape victims.
Rape Offences (August to October) decreased by 19 offences or 3.1%. The T/CC noted that in each case there had been a good response in terms of care and encouragement to support prosecution where appropriate. Importantly, he said victim satisfaction continued to be high and the Force was proactive in reviewing any dissatisfaction. He added the charge rate had increased from 3.6% last year to 5.4% and the Force hoped its work under Op Soteria with the CPS would result in more charges.
Sexual offences (August to October) decreased by 140 offences or 7.9%.
The PCC advised he was going to ask about charges for rape but noted the T/CC had updated that both the charge rate and volume had increased. The T/CC confirmed the volume of charges had increased by 10.
Protect people from exploitation and abuse
The T/CC said DA was a key part of the VAWG Strategy and Force performance framework. August to October, offences decreased by 674, or 7.0%; the charge rate improved from 5.2% to 6.9% and solve rate from 7.2% to 9.3%.
He said the Proactive DA Investigation Teams were now embedded and worked alongside the DA Hub and other Vulnerability Teams to focus on those offenders who presented the greatest risk to the public.
Highlighting the use of rapid video response (RVR), the T/CC advised it was attracting a lot of interest nationally. He reported the 3-month evaluation of the pilot had shown some impressive numbers in terms of victims engaged with, as well as good examples of it leading to the immediate deployment of officers and arrest of a suspect. In due course, he said the results would be presented to the PCC, but victim satisfaction was also good and in fact higher than when an incident was attended in person. Noting it was a good innovation and the Force wanted to offer to more victims, he added it would never be a replacement should a victim wish to see an officer in person.
Violence against the person (August to October) saw a decrease of 1,213 offences or 5.8%.
In terms of Homicide Prevention, the T/CC said the Force was working closely with the Homicide Working Group and NPCC lead. Highlighting work around the new DA Act and associated orders, he said the Force would use them in a robust fashion as it did the current DV Prevention Notices.
Noting the reduction in Stalking and Harassment of 1,060 crimes, the PCC asked if the Force understood the reasons and given that about half of victims used 101 to report their crime, was there any concern. The T/CC advised the Force had adopted the DARA DA Risk Assessment tool in October 2019; he said there had been some changes to its application as in his view the Force had been over-recording crime on some occasions. He added it wasn’t a conscious decision, but a natural consequence of applying a complex set of rules to questions that were purely for risk assessment purposes.
The T/CC reported that child exploitation was reflected in the Control Strategy and Force plans. The well established Missing and Child Exploitation Teams focused on the most vulnerable and worked closely with the County Lines and Gangs Team, Youth Engagement officers and Online Investigation Teams to arrest offenders.
The T/CC said the Force continued to have a robust stance around online exploitation and abuse of children, adding the investment continued to pay dividends in terms of increased prosecutions and convictions.
With regards to modern slavery and human trafficking, the T/CC stated the team had been established for some time and were making a real difference. He advised the Force was one of the highest in the country for referrals into the National Referral Mechanism, the recognised route for identifying and safeguarding those who had been trafficked.
In terms of organised immigration crime, he said there was no fully established team, but the Force was in discussion with the national lead and the plan was to build capacity in SCD. He added whilst other agencies such as Border Force and NCA dealt with immigration crime, given Kent’s geographical location and the impact of such criminality, it was an area the Force would be investing in.
Welcoming the emphasis on organised immigration crime as a strategic risk at Kent’s borders, the PCC said he looked forward to receiving further details about the team in due course.
Combat organised crime and county lines
The T/CC said he was pleased with the Force’s approach and investment in both areas; they continued to generate real results in terms of combatting both the harm and impact of organised crime and county lines.
As of October, there were 50 OCG’s mapped and scored in Kent; the T/CC reported there were 72 disruptions in the last 6 months which translated to people going to prison for serious criminality.
In terms of the importance of mapping OCGs and their impact, the T/CC advised it wasn’t all about serious criminality such as importation of drugs or firearms as many had a more visible and local impact and were owned on Division and supported by SCD. He said the Force continued to see a month on month reduction in the harm caused by OCGs.
The T/CC stated in July 2020 when the Force started using its current system to assess risk and impact, there were 85 county lines. He reported that in July 2022 there were 37 active lines with a risk score of 571, and in October 2022 there were 29 lines with a risk score of 365.
Noting the Force was charging more offenders through its use of other evidence, particularly telephony and other tactics, the T/CC stressed it would continue to invest heavily in combatting gangs and county lines criminality as the level of violence was a major concern. He added between February and October 2022, the County Lines and Gangs Team achieved 145 charges and over 100 years in sentences.
The PCC congratulated the teams on their excellent work in reducing county lines, OCGs and the associated harm.
Be visible and responsive to the needs of communities
In relation to the re-design of the NH Policing Model, the T/CC said he hoped to be able to go into more detail at the next meeting. However, at the heart of the proposed changes was increased community visibility and responsiveness with more officers dedicated to ward/beat patrolling, an increased problem-solving task force capability at District level and continued investment in Child Centred Policing through youth and school engagement.
Recognising School’s officers almost universally received positive feedback, the T/CC advised in light of the challenges facing the Force, it had been necessary to post some officers into the FCIR. He stated it was not unusual to move resources around to deal with peaks and troughs in demand. He stressed it was a short-term decision and provided an assurance they would be back as soon as possible. He said he reserved the right to move staff around.
In terms of mental health and S136 detentions, he reported a positive pattern with record low deployments and use of the power. He advised the Force was working with the NHS on changes to the 111 service which he hoped would provide the ability to respond to people in crisis in a far more rapid way. He said he would like to get to the point where individuals received the right help and support and officers only had a role in preserving life or preventing injury.
The T/CC said Citizens in Policing was a positive picture with growing numbers of volunteers. He noted there were now over 70 Community Policing Volunteers and in the period August to October, the Special Constabulary contributed 23,973 hours.
With regards to the FCIR, the T/CC summarised 999 performance as strong despite a national phenomenon of exponentially increasing demand and calls for service. He advised work was underway nationally and locally to try and understand, adding whilst the Force was planning for continued increases, it was a challenge for every force.
The T/CC advised the 999 call attrition rate had remained under 2% in the period August to October and provided reassurance the Force contacted every single caller missed on the first occasion. Noting the Beating Crime Plan included some speed of answering measures, the T/CC expressed concern at using rudimentary indicators; he said he was interested in speed, but also quality of assessment and support provided to those contacting the Force.
In terms of 101, the T/CC stated it was a threat to the Force and currently the single biggest performance challenge. Noting the attrition rate at times in October was over 50%, he advised there had been a robust response and he hoped to see significant improvement soon. He reported it was not just increased demand, but there were also medium and long term plans to address challenges around recruitment and retention of staff. He said every time he visited the FCIR he was impressed with the staff and the challenge was not down to them as individuals – it was ultimately his responsibility to ensure the resourcing was right. He advised it was an area he was prioritising and this included posting of 35 officers into the FCIR; he said it was not something he had done likely, but it was not unusual for the Force to move resources around to manage risk. He stated the long-term solution lay in an examination of the whole business - the mix of staff, the resourcing of teams, staff remuneration - as well as some technological solutions to ease demand by enabling calls to be managed outside the FCIR environment. He said the growth in Live Chat was positive and encouraged the public to use online facilities, adding that whilst not the answer to the 101 performance challenge, it was part of the wider Force offer around helping the public to make contact.
With regards to the posting of officers into the FCIR, the PCC asked how the Force had minimised the impact of their extraction on colleagues/teams. The T/CC stated such decisions were not taken lightly but there were thousands of officers, so 35 was a very small number. He advised they had not all come from one team or place, adding it was not unusual to send 100+ officers on a mutual aid requirement to support another Force. However, acknowledging it was unusual to put officers into an FCIR environment where there were no established posts, he said it was something the Force would be looking at in the future.
Noting some School’s Officers had been posted into the FCIR, the PCC welcomed the commitment that it would only be for the short term but sought confirmation other teams would be focusing on schools. The T/CC said the Schools Officer posts would not be vacant for a prolonged period and if there was a need, the Force would seek the support of other staff to backfill and help where they could. He added that whilst Schools Officers were important, so were many other roles and he reserved the right to spread the challenges equitably across the organisation.
With regards to the PC attachment to Speedwatch, the PCC asked if there was currently an officer in post. The T/CC said an officer was on attachment until December, but no decision had been made as to whether it would continue or the post would be advertised.
Prevent road danger and support Vision Zero
The T/CC reported a 38% reduction in road deaths (August to October) compared to last year, or 7 less fatalities.
He said he couldn’t be anything but impressed with the work of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit; excellent level of investigations to ensure those who should face justice did, but also a very supportive and compassionate response to families who experienced such awful tragedies.
In terms of partnership working, the T/CC advised the Force chaired a weekly meeting focused on the key areas of education, engagement, enforcement and reaction to ensure taking every opportunity with partners to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads.
He said there was a robust approach to preventing road danger by the Force and enforcements continued to be high.
Noting the report included an update on the Just Stop Oil protests, the PCC commended the Force on its efforts to bring protestors causing disruption to justice. Advising it was led by the T/DCC, the T/CC said the Force would always try to be proactive and identify areas of vulnerability early; on this occasion, he said many of the arrests were effected before the protestors got anywhere near the motorway network.
Protect young people and provide opportunities
The T/CC stated there was a focus on Child Centred Policing and it was central to the Control Strategy.
He explained version two of the Force’s Child Centred Policing Plan was being refreshed and updated ready for launch in January 2023, adding that in due course he would brief the PCC in more detail.
The T/CC advised the Strategy existed now and was ably led by the T/DCC. He said the key approaches around engagement, early intervention, education and enforcement helped to ensure policing, which was sometimes too focused on the enforcement element, played its part through not just the Schools Officers but the work of other teams. He added that where children were brought into police protection or social services care, it was often the result of investigations completely unrelated to child matters, but officers understood the approach and spotted something.
With regards to the Cadet programme, the T/CC advised it was an area of real strength and the Force would continue to invest in it. Whilst the Cadets and Mini-cadets was very much about future potential police officers, he said more importantly it was about role modelling and presenting real opportunities for children with perhaps acute needs or from deprived backgrounds, and ultimately creating better citizens. He added it was impressive the amount of time staff and members of the public gave up to help and support children.
The PCC congratulated the team on their achievements with young people.
Inspections, Audits & Reviews
The T/DCC advised the paper set out 3 principle updates – 2 publications by HMICFRS and PEEL improvement.
HMICFRS Publication – Police response to burglary, robbery and serious acquisitive crime (SAC): the T/DCC said the report was published in August 2022 and drew evidence from several sources, including PEEL Inspections. As reinforced though the Beating Crime Plan, the report concluded that SAC needed to be seen as a priority and identified several inconsistencies. However, the T/DCC advised the definition of SAC was broader than forces traditionally focused on. HMICFRS made 2 specific recommendations for Chief Constables - to ensure compliance with APP related to crime scene management and effective supervision of investigations. Noting SAC was provided for in the Control Strategy under the banner of high harm crime and the Force received a ‘Good’ for prevention, the T/DCC said there was a raft of activity but performance would continue to be monitored cognisant of the recommendations.
HMICFRS Publication – Inspection of vetting, misconduct and misogyny in the police service: The T/CC advised it was published on 2 November 2022, but the Force’s own vetting inspection was also recently published for which it received an ‘adequate’ grading. Kent Police were one of the eight forces chosen for inspection and it identified 43 recommendations and 5 areas for improvement (AFIs); 29 of the recommendations and all the AFIs were for Chief Constables and the Force was working through them. The early indication was that for the vast majority the Force was already at a level of compliance or on a trajectory to meet them well within the prescribed timeframes.
PEEL Update – the T/DCC advised the Force had 19 areas for improvement and 4 concerns. He advised progress was monitored by himself and the DCO through the Force Improvement Board, with regular updates provided to HMICFRS via the Force Liaison Lead. He added all were shown as on track or good progress and a number were ready to be reviewed by HMICFRS for sign off.
With regards to the vetting and counter-corruption inspection specific to Kent Police, the PCC asked how the Force was addressing the AFIs. The T/DCC stated the Force was graded ‘adequate’ which clearly showed there was room for improvement, but highlighted that of the other forces inspected, 2 were graded as ‘good’, 2 ‘requires improvement’ and a number were not graded as they had more challenging issues. In summary, he said the Force was probably ‘middle of the road’; not where it wanted to be and clearly a focus for concentrated effort. Two principle areas emerged: i) the sheer volume of demand on the Force Vetting Team born of the PuP resulted in difficult decisions being made, particularly in relation to those requiring Enhanced Vetting for specialist roles – the T/DCC said having looked at every case, he was confident there was an effective mitigation around any risk and they all subsequently passed; ii) the Force should analyse potential disproportionality in some of its vetting decisions – the T/DCC reported that there had been further investment into the Vetting Team and the process tweaked, with oversight of those that failed through a Disproportionality Scrutiny Panel.
The DCO reported that 11 audits were still to be completed; largely due to the late re-engagement of the Internal Auditors which was nobody’s fault, but an administrative issue. Of the 11 audits, 3 were joint and 1 was a follow-up. He advised they were managed and overseen by the Joint Audit Committee with the respective CFO’s, adding 2 remained from 2021/22 and of the 10 completed, there were 36 recommendations but none were high risk.
In terms of External Audit, the DCO advised the Statement of Accounts had been completed and published earlier than any other year with no material findings.
The DCO said in terms of Kent’s share of the 20,000 national police uplift, this was the third year and was always going to be the most challenging – 195 officers in addition to replacing those who left.
The Force’s establishment threshold was 4,144 officers, an increase of 449 officers by 31 March 2023. The DCO advised the current strength was 4,056.5 officers.
With regards to officer intakes, the DCO said two more were planned in January and March and subject to the leaver projection being accurate, the Force intended to recruit 130 in each - making 260 in total.
Between April and October 2022, 322 new joiners started; adding the 260 to be recruited by the end of March 2023 and the total was 582 which represented 15% of the entire Force and 46% of Local Policing Teams. The DCO said it was a lot of renewed and fresh energy, but also demand in terms of training, supervision etc.
The DCO advised changes to recruitment routes, a very competitive recruitment market and aggressive MPS techniques all served to make the year incredibly challenging.
The number of current applications was 1,389; females represented 39.7% and ethnic minority 12.7%.
Female representation in the Force = 34.2% or 1,408 officers; ethnic minority representation = 3.62% or 149 officers. The DCO reported that overall ethnic minority representation was stable and female representation had increased.
Due to the impending launch of the Neighbourhood Policing Business Case, the DCO said there had been a freeze on PCSO recruitment; as at 31 October, PCSO strength was 196.22fte which was 139.8fte under establishment.
He reported that Covid remained and continued to cause absences.
The DCO advised 32 officers had transferred to MPS but it could increase to 63 by the end of March which was less than predicted. Overall, between April and November he said total transferees out of Force was 39 (32 to MPS and 7 to other forces) and total transferees into Force was 16, 3 of whom were returners. This equated to a net loss of 23 which was 0.5% of the Force’s strength and about what was expected.
With regards to the NH Policing Review and the current Business Case, the PCC asked how the Force was managing the welfare of those potentially affected. The DCO advised the HR department and line managers were continuing to provide opportunities for staff to discuss the consultation or raise issues. Noting the PCC attended a recent session, the DCO said he would have found the PCSO’s to be balanced, pragmatic and professional. The DCO added that so far the Force still had a very engaged, active and positive workforce which it intended to look after during the course of the formal consultation phase, but also beyond into the action phases of the case.
Noting the return in the long-term of the IPLDP programme which was the previous non-degree entry route, the PCC asked if the Force had given any early consideration as to how it would maintain both non-degree and degree routes. The DCO advised the Force was currently working on it and welcomed the opportunity to have different routes with the rich mix of diversity it would bring. However, noting there were complexities in that it had to project numbers for the degree programme to its academic provider by a certain deadline, he said the Force was currently trying to understand what proportion of those it intended to recruit next year would come via the routes available.
With regards to the Capital Budget, the DCO reported it was set at £39.5m and the Force was forecasting a committed spend of £37.6m. However, he said it may not be spent in the current financial year due to issues around the availability of goods and services which was a global phenomenon.
The DCO reported the total Revenue Budget was £373.2m and the Force was forecasting a spend of £373.7m after six months – a 0.1% overspend with 6 months remaining.
He advised there was a higher overall pay increase than nationally predicted and locally budgeted for, with all officers receiving a £1,900 increase which was also applied to police staff. In terms of range, it represented a welcomed and deserved 8.8% pay increase for police constables, but a 2.2% pay increase for Chief Superintendents.
Having seen 152 leavers between April and September, the DCO advised the Force expected a further 175 leavers between October 2022 and March 2023. He explained those officers were likely to be at the top end of their pay scale and would be replaced by new officers at the lower end; whilst giving a financial opportunity for the Force, it also represented a loss of operational experience.
Noting staff vacancies, including PCSOs and others deliberately held had made a significant contribution to the in-year savings plan, the DCO said the Force was not immune to the impact of inflation.
The DCO advised previous good planning had seen the Force secure an energy package that was equivalent to the 6-month Government Business package recently announced.
Looking forward, the DCO stated the Force anticipated receipt of the Home Office Settlement on 12 December and by 18 January would submit its budget report to the PCC’s CFO in time for the PCC’s precept considerations. In the meantime, the Force was working hard to strengthen the MTFP with the PCC’s CFO.
Thanking the DCO, the PCC asked if he could articulate the process the Force would go through to identify savings for 2023/24. The DCO advised it was an ongoing process and within the MTFP there were both risks and opportunities to the budget next year, but it was not currently possible to determine which would come to fruition. He said there was critical information the Force was not in receipt of, much of which would be received within next 2-3 weeks which would enable it to determine the figure required. He added there was a worst case and best case scenario and the Force would make a decision with the involvement of the PCC’s CFO; a savings plan would then be applied against it, approved by the CC and recommended to the PCC.
Noting Business Services was facing exceptional demand, the PCC asked about the impact and how it was being managed. The DCO said the staff generally dealt with three areas of business – accounting transactions; the receipt and processing of application forms; and other administrative matters – but the department was often overlooked and so he was grateful for the PCC’s interest. He advised the Force had moved people away from core functions and into the processing of officer applications, adding that Vetting had seen a significant increase in demand also. The T/CC stated the issue was discussed with HMICFRS and whilst he had no issue with the findings, it was right to say their inspection was conducted when the department was ‘white hot’. He said the impact of recruiting so many people so quickly was not lost on him, but he was hopeful that come March 2023, the Force would be back to a steady state in terms of recruitment. He added the Business Centre was under pressure, but it was well supported and there were lots of very dedicated and hardworking people.
The PCC expressed his thanks to those teams delivering exceptional service during an exceptional period of demand.
Complaints about Kent Police – Annual Report
The T/DCC noted the paper set out the 2020 change and the difference between Schedule 3 complaints and those outside of it.
In terms of the number of Schedule 3 complaints per 1,000 employees, the T/DCC reported Kent was 179 compared to 146 nationally and 164 in the MSG. He said Kent was running slightly higher, but when looking at the overall trend and movement between 2021 and 2022, the Force had seen a reduction of 384 complaints.
The T/DCC advised that in line with usual trends the Force had seen an increase in complaints over the summer but they were now reducing. He added that he was in dialogue with the Head of PSD to ensure volumes did not exceed the workload of officers and staff within PSD.
With regards to allegation type, the T/DCC reported the highest number was for ‘Delivery of duties and service’, followed by ‘Police powers, policies and procedures’. He highlighted the ‘other’ category at 5% was lower than the national and MSG average, but said the Force was pleased it had a more accurate recording base.
The T/DCC stated that ‘Discrimination’, ‘Stop/Search’ and ‘Use of Force’ complaints were subject to very close scrutiny through the IPAG set-up and Policing Powers Oversight Board.
In relation to timeliness, he reported the average number of days to finalise a complaint in Kent was 86 compared to 111 days nationally and 106 in the MSG. Whilst a positive picture, he said he would like to see a decrease over the next 12 months as it impacted on the wellbeing of officers and public confidence.
Over 60% of complaints were resolved outside Schedule 3 – in other words, the Force was able to immediately resolve to the satisfaction of the complainant by providing further explanation or a mediated response. 8.4% resulted in the service being found to be unacceptable and less than 0.1% resulted in a case to answer for misconduct proceedings.
The T/DCC reported 84% of Reviews were not upheld and 16% required further investigation.
Noting the percentage of allegations for ‘Discriminatory behaviour’ and ‘Access and/or disclosure of information’ was higher than the national and MSG figure, the PCC asked if this was cause for concern. Whilst acknowledging the point, the T/DCC said he didn’t believe it was. Noting the total for the two types was 9%, he said there was a greater chance of fluctuation in categories with small numbers; he also advised the IOPC figures were published as ‘experimental data’ and so it was likely there were inconsistencies in how it was recorded and extracted nationally. Stating there was a focus on recording correctly which was reflected in the lower percentage of ‘other’, he said in summary there was no cause for concern, but the Force would continue to carefully review and monitor the data.
Topical Issues & Update on Significant Operational Matters
In light of their weekly briefings, the T/CC advised that there was nothing further to report.
In closing the PCC thanked the T/CC, T/DCC, DCO and their teams for the papers and his team for their excellent work with the technology. He said he looked forward to the next meeting in the New Year.