Key Issues from January’s Board Meeting
Published: Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Find out more about the issues that were discussed at the Board meeting on 31 January 2011.
New Chief Executive and Clerk
The Convener welcomed Sue Bruce, Chief Executive of the City of Edinburgh Council to her first meeting as the new Chief Executive and Clerk.
The Board approved the 2011/12 budget with Revenue funding of £170.398m (a reduction of 2.6% on last year) and the Capital Grant of £3.615m for 2011/12 (6.3% reduction).
The settlement was predicated on Scottish police forces maintaining police officer numbers at 1,000 more than were in post before April 2007: 2,973 in Lothian and Borders.
Local authority contributions to the Revenue budget are as follows:
- City of Edinburgh £46.924m
- Midlothian £6.583m
- East Lothian £6.845m
- West Lothian £14.161m
- Scottish Borders £9.658m.
The Chief Constable noted that the budget represented the first real terms cash cut for the Board for ten years and presented challenges for the Force.
The Treasurer outlined the risks associated with delivering the budget which included pay freezes for Police Officers and Staff in 2011/12 and other savings relating to terms and conditions of contract.
The Convener will meet the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to seek to secure an equitable funding settlement for Lothian and Borders including full funding for the costs of injury pension payments and recognition within the Settlement of population growth in the Board area. He commended the Treasurer and Chief Constable for preparing a budget which maintained officer numbers whilst ensuring no compulsory redundancies amongst Police Staff in 2011/12.
National ICT Business Change Programme
Chief Constable Colin McKerracher of Grampian Police presented an overview of the national ICT programme which aims to develop common IT systems, processes, equipment and procurement to support effective policing.
Last week, Lothian and Borders became the first force in Scotland to use the new Command and Control software which will be rolled out across Scotland . Future projects include mobile data capture and information management initiatives relating to police response processes. The Convener emphasised the role of the Board in approving these types of projects.
Police Staff Voluntary Redundancy Scheme
Following Members' approval of the Scheme in November, 80 Police Staff will have left the Force by 31 March giving a saving of £2.1m annually. A further 26 staff will be replaced only when their posts can be filled by staff displaced by the Transforming the Service Programme.
The Chief Constable introduced the Quarterly Performance Report noting that overall crime had again fallen by 10% compared to the equivalent period last year. The report had been fully considered at the Audit and Scrutiny Committee and can be accessed from Council Papers Online.
Policing Major Events
The Board discussed reports on the Climate Camp for Action (policing costs totalling £649,600) and the Papal Visit (cost £543, 226).
The Chief Constable emphasised that the Force's strategy for the Climate Camp was based on early engagement and negotiation. The engagement and containment tactics employed by the Force meant that no major targets were threatened and resulted in relatively few arrests compared to similar events held elsewhere. A more heavy-handed approach may have resulted in higher costs arising from court action, public enquiries and injury compensation payments.
Negotiations are underway with the Scottish Government for the recovery of expenses related to the Papal visit.
Members commended the Force's handling of these high profile and sensitive operations.
Community Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme
Following a presentation, the Board discussed the proposed implementation of the Community Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme. The initiative aims to safeguard children by allowing parents and guardians access to information about adults who are in positions of responsibility for their children. The Scheme will be rolled out across Scotland following a successful pilot in Tayside.
Other significant issues discussed
Complaints against the Police have reduced by 12.25% compared to the equivalent period last year. The Board heard this was due, in part, to the following:
- better explanations by the Force Communications Centre
- a proactive approach to complex cases
- wider publications of lessons learned
- broader use of case conference material.
The Board has a Sub-Committee which reviews how the Force deals with complaints from the public. Board scrutiny encourages improved handling of complaints and reviews how any lessons learned are implemented. The Board has encouraged and supported work by the Force to ensure the Force Communications Centre gives better explanations to members of the public about Police procedures. This work has increased public understanding and helped to reduce the number of complaints received.
Members considered a report on a Force-wide public perception survey. It was noted that the findings merited more detailed consideration as part of the Board's community engagement and best value role. The report was referred on to the Policy and Best Value Working Group for scrutiny; this will strengthen the Board's role in helping to shape Force priorities.
Appointment of Custody Visitors
The Board approved the reappointment of two Custody Visitors and appointed a new Custody Visitor. Custody visitors observe, monitor and report upon the welfare of people held in police custody. Find out more about the work of Custody Visitors or contact Hannah Scott, on 0131 529 4121 or firstname.lastname@example.org