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Chief Constable gives monthly report to Policing Board

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Chief Constable George Hamilton gave his monthly report to the Policing Board today.

Mr Hamilton’s report touched on a wide range of issues an can be found in full below:

FINANCE UPDATE

There have been developments in January which have provided some clarity on the budget settlement for 2016-17. As outlined in The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan – A Fresh Start, it was agreed that the level of reductions to the core Police budget would be limited to 2% which has been confirmed in the indicative budget allocation from the Department of Justice (DoJ).

As previously outlined to the Board, our professional judgement is that a minimum of 6,963 officers are required to maintain operational resilience, supported by the appropriate number of staff. Protecting Police numbers to these levels and achieving a balanced budget for 2016-17, requires a cut in the region of 10% to non-staff budgets. This inevitably has a significant impact, not just on the Police Service but also beyond. Work is now well underway to draft the Resource Plan for 2016-17 which will be brought to the Board in March 2016.

The outcome of January Monitoring has been received which resulted in PSNI being required to contribute a total of £26.2m towards Departmental and NI Block pressures. This in-year variance in the budget had been anticipated following a letter from the Department of Justice in July 2015, warning of a likely cut of between 2.5% and 6%, and a follow up letter in October 2015 indicating that we should plan for a cut of between 5% and 10%.  This confirms PSNI’s Unringfenced Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) as £646m for 2015-16 and we are currently projecting a small pressure of £1.7m for the full year. We anticipate managing this pressure down over the last quarter.

CROSS BORDER TASK FORCE

Senior officers in PSNI and An Garda Síochána continue to make progress in setting up the Cross Border Task Force, as agreed through the Fresh Start Agreement.  The Task Force will include representation from PSNI, An Garda Síochána, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the Irish Revenue Commissioners and other agencies.  Overarching themes for the Task Force have been discussed.  There will be a particular focus on the use of uniformed officers, with the aim of increasing confidence in policing in border areas and promoting collaborative working between all the agencies.

HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE

  • Graduation

34 new officers graduated from the PSNI Training College on 22 January.  These officers will now begin an exciting and fulfilling career within the organisation.  Since the inception of PSNI, a total of 4,576 officers have now graduated from 98 PSNI student officer courses.

  • Launch of employee survey

As referred to in the December Board report, the PSNI Employee Engagement and Wellbeing Survey was launched on Wednesday 20 January.  The survey will be open for four weeks and allows all officers and staff to contribute their views on issues impacting their work lives and on the general workplace.  Corporate Communications Department has led on the survey in collaboration with Durham University; findings will help drive actions and further embed the Policing with the Community culture.

  • Superintendent Promotion Competition

Following a formal process, thirteen Chief Inspectors have recently been found suitable for promotion to Superintendent. These officers will be promoted between 1 February and 1 April in to various roles across PSNI, details of which have been communicated to the Board via a letter. A competition to promote officers from Inspector to Chief Inspector has now been launched.

SERVICEFIRST CHANGE MANAGEMENT UPDATE

With reducing budgets and increased demand, the PSNI must evolve to deliver an effective, efficient service and to Keeping People Safe.  As a consequence, and in order to ensure that Assistance Chief Constables and equivalent staff have appropriate portfolios, we recently completed an internal review of Departments.

The Service Executive Board has ratified a number of key decisions in terms of PSNI Departments and Branches.  There will be four permanent PSNI Departments:-

  • Crime Operations Department
  • District Policing Command
  • Operational Support Department
  • Legacy and Justice Department

Service Improvement Department will dissolve and its functions will transfer to the other Departments.  A single Director of Resources will assume responsibility for Human Resources, Finance and Support Services.  Training and Development Branch will move to Operational Support Department. Further details around the creation and functions of Legacy and Justice Department will follow in due course.

  • Priority Based Resourcing – Time Analysis Research

PSNI is looking at how it can deliver services more effectively and efficiently through Priority Based Resourcing (PBR). To do this, the organisation must have a clear understanding of the amount of time personnel spend delivering particular services. To assist in this process all officers and staff will be participating in a Time Analysis process in the coming weeks and months.

The organisation has been split into survey groups of up to 200 people, and approximately 60 surveys will run concurrently for a two week period. The first survey groups went live on 11 January 2016 and the final survey will close on 29 February 2016. Outcomes from the Time Analysis will be examined in detail and will inform the PBR process going forward.

  • Dealing with vulnerability

The PSNI is exploring the provision of a future Custody Healthcare Model in partnership with Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. In following the National model, the Public Health Agencyis currently developing a Health Needs Assessment for PSNI custody to inform a specification for the future Healthcare Model.

In 2015, of the 26,886 people that were detained in custody across Northern Ireland, 18.6% had self-harm issues, 6.2% were suicidal, 6.1% had a mental disorder and 6.7% had issues with drugs.Of the various custody suites, Musgrave Custody Suite in Belfast had the highest percentage of detained individuals with self-harm issues (28%), suicidal (12.5%) and drugs issues (13.8%).  A table and graphs illustrating this data have been included at Appendix A.

This reflects the significant challenges faced in delivering and maintaining the safety and well-being of these individuals while in custody. The PSNI will continue to work collaboratively with Health and Social Care and other Criminal Justice Agencies to address the underlying needs of these individuals and build appropriate referral pathways.

  • PEEL Inspection

The PEEL assessment allows Police Services to be assessed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) on their effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. Services are judged as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. Annual PEEL Inspections are currently carried out on all Police Services in England and Wales and the PSNI welcome the opportunity to be included.  Interviews have commenced, as has the process of gathering the relevant information and statistics.  We look forward to sharing the results of the Inspection with the Board in due course, and anticipate that the Inspection will identify opportunities to improve our services.

  • Fleet

Work has been ongoing to progress changes in the PSNI’s fleet. For example, from January to June 2015, our fleet reduced by 588 vehicles, around 15%.

Two liveried hybrid cars were on trial from Autumn 2015, with a further two unmarked hybrid cars coming into service later in 2015. The trials continued into the New Year and there will be now be an evaluation process undertaken. Feedback from those driving the vehicles will form a key part of the assessment.

In the summer, an additional 41 armoured cars were ordered, almost half of which have arrived. The new vehicles have been commissioned and are now in use, protecting officers from the severe threat which remains. Before the end of February 2016, we also anticipate delivery of 30 new armoured landrovers.

In terms of other developments that will support the modernisation of the fleet, ten all-wheel drive estate cars have been ordered for District use as road closure vehicles. In addition, we have invested in 15 vans for Crime Scene Investigation staff and 15 standard motorcycles for wider organisational use, investments which are only possible due to a new, more efficient approach to managing fleet.

  • Operational Support update

Dealing with Freedom of Information requests

The PSNI is continuing to consider demand in various operational support functions and examine how resources are allocated to these areas of business. Within the Freedom of Information (FOI) Department, the level of demand increased significantly from 2012 to 2015.  In 2012, the PSNI’s Freedom of Information Department received 927 requests, which had a total of 3,243 questions. In 2013, this volume of requests increased to 1,666, (3,888 questions) and in 2015 there were 1,305 requests which had a total of 4,550 questions. Freedom of Information requests are often allocated to a number of Departments and Branches to source the relevant information. On average six people will contribute to each PSNI FOI response.

TSG training

Newly appointed Tactical Support Group (TSG) officers have now completed a week long induction course prior to taking up their new roles. During the week the officers undertook specialised Personal Safety, Public Order, and Tactical Patrol Training, all of which is underpinned by strong Human Rights principles and the Policing with the Community ethos. Over the coming months these newly appointed officers will continue their specialised training and will be subject to a 12 month probationary period in TSG before being confirmed in post.

The TSG officers and their trainers provided social media followers with daily updates on the training process to increase public awareness of the high standards required within TSG and to highlight some of the challenges that TSG officers can face.

  • Armed Response Recruitment and Training

The application process for Armed Response officers has been completed, with the individuals who obtained the highest scores in this process now progressing to undertake further training. Training will cover Human Rights and the Policing with the Community ethos, the National Decision Making Model, use of firearms, less lethal options including Taser and AEP deployment, Method of Entry (MOE) and Personal Safety Programme (PSP) skills. Foot, vehicle and building tactics will also be covered in this learning process and training courses will conclude with formal assessments.

  • Digital Interview Recording

Following a successful pilot project, over the coming months a new digital interview recording solution will be rolled out throughout the PSNI.  These secure digital devices allow audio and, where appropriate, audio/video recording in custody suites or specialist interview suites. The new technology also means that witness and Public Protection Unit interviews can be recorded off PSNI premises.

Training is being provided for investigators who may have to use the equipment in such settings. This technology will not only produce cost efficiencies but will also assist in efforts to modernise and streamline processes associated with file preparation and information sharing between organisations in the wider criminal justice sector.  It is anticipated that the roll out will be completed by May 2016.

  • Reactive and Organised Crime Branch (ROCB) update

ROCB continues to work towards full delivery of the CID review recommendations, including finalising the new Branch structure and the number of officers allocated.

By 4 February 2016, 57 new Trainee Investigators (TIs) will be appointed, working across ROCB. Work is ongoing with the College of Policing (Crime Training Branch) to develop and deliver a dedicated programme of training for these officers, with the first TI Development Programme scheduled to start on 4 February 2016.

LEGACY

On Friday 29 January, Lord Justice Weir concluded a two-week review of Legacy Inquests. The purpose of the review was to ascertain the state of readiness in more than 50 cases, involving nearly 100 deaths. The PSNI legal representatives cooperated fully and worked closely with everyone involved over what was a very full two-week schedule.

The PSNI welcomed this review as it provides an opportunity to examine fully how best to progress with these Inquests. We look forward to hearing about further developments on this very challenging issue and will endeavour to support any outcome or recommendations made by the Lord Chief Justice within the resources we have available to us.

The Board will be aware that the Director of Public Prosecutions has referred, via Section 35(5), an investigation into the actions of the person known as ‘Stakeknife’.  An options paper has been developed for the NIO, DoJ and the Board.  This paper also seeks clarification from the Board in relation to the oversight arrangements for the case.

OPERATIONAL UPDATE

  • 2015 – Another busy year

From 1 April to 31 December 2015, PSNI received a total of 450,256 calls; 127,272 emergency calls and 322,984 non-emergency calls.  The types of issues being dealt with remain diverse and Police can often be the initial call-takers for matters that sit better with other agencies.  The PSNI continue to work collaboratively with partners to ensure we are Keeping People Safe.  The following are only a few of the numerous examples available –

  • Increased pressure on Serious Crime Branch resources in January

January proved an extremely busy month for Serious Crime Branch.  Four people were murdered and officers affected arrests in all four cases.  Three of the cases have resulted in suspects being charged.

  • Winter Drink/Drive Campaign update

The Winter Drink/Drive Operation took place from 27 November 2015 to 2 January 2016.  Provisional figures were released on 15 January and indicated that in total 396 people were arrested, an increase of just over 40% when compared to the same period the previous year.

  • Significant drug seizure incidents

During January there have been a number of unrelated, significant cannabis seizures.  On 26 January officers searched two vehicles in the Dargan Road area of Belfast and seized cannabis with an estimated street value of £1m.  Two men were arrested. In addition, significant cannabis cultivation facilities have been uncovered by officers in Magherafelt on 25 January (cannabis plants with an estimated street value of £115,000 were seized), in Glenavy on 26 January (plants with an estimated street value of £90,000 were seized), and in South Belfast on 21 January (approximately 100 cannabis plants recovered).

On 22 December 2015 PSNI released figures from the latest phase of Operation Torus, the partnership campaign to tackle street-level drug dealing across Northern Ireland.  This most recent phase ran from 7 September to 31 October 2015 and resulted in £1.35m worth of drugs seized, 731 drug seizure incidents, 1,166 searches conducted and 532 arrests.

  • Social media

PSNI now has over half a million followers across various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Opportunities to use social media are progressing, including a Christmas video by Public Protection Branch to encourage individuals who were experiencing domestic violence to contact police. During the festive period messaging was also developed around the campaigns Without Consent, One-Punch, Drink Drive and Get Home Safe.

On Monday 25 January, PSNI Scientific Support Branch and Forensic Science NI ran a ‘day in the life of’ Twitter feed.  Followers were able to see photographs of foot impressions taken from a scene and understand how technology is used to photograph scenes, collect samples and analyse fingerprints.

  • Recognition for Repeat Offenders Unit (ROU)

We are confident that working in collaboration can make a tangible difference.  On 19 January District Judge McCourt praised the local PSNI ROU in the Youth Court, Downpatrick.  He acknowledged that the ROU had made a significant difference to the court list, with a notable reduction in recidivism in the area.

CONCLUSION

We look forward to 2016 being a positive year for policing.  Although the financial situation remains challenging, we will drive forward efficiencies via PBR and ensure that our Service delivers against our purpose of Keeping People Safe.

Appendix A  – Figures from PSNI NICHE System – (2015) Number of Individuals in Custody with Self-Harm, Suicidal Thoughts, Mental Disorder and Drugs Issues

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