Chief Constable's Formal Report - Northern Ireland Policing Board 4th August 2016
The peaceful and almost uneventful parades and protests over the 12th July period were no doubt assisted by the very positive dialogue taking place in the background. The reduction in tension and public order has allowed police to focus resources on tackling harm in our community to Keep People Safe. This activity has produced results. There have been significant drug seizures, activity to disrupt human trafficking and a series of operational successes against those who seek to engage in terrorism and inflict harm.
Following the June Monitoring adjustments, the resource DEL budget for 2016/17 is £749m, this includes additional security funding. As of the end of June, PSNI is experiencing a small pressure, primarily in overtime. This will be monitored over the coming months. Other challenges which have previously been highlighted to the Board, namely Legacy costs and police officer headcount, continue to be kept under review in relation to their financial impact. The Department of Justice has recently commissioned the October Monitoring which will enable PSNI to highlight some of these challenges.
The PSNI is working through the Budget Planning Process to establish future budget requirements. This is in advance of a formal process being commissioned by the Department of Justice.
Police have been continuing to focus on tackling priorities identified in the 2016/17 Policing Plan. Figures from 1 April 2016 to 17 July 2016 indicate a reduction of 13% in crimes against older people, in comparison to the same period last year, with a 2.6% increase in outcome rates.
The outcome rate for domestic burglaries in which older persons are victims has also increased by 2.9%. 2016-2021 population projections indicate that NI’s older population will increase by over 10%, so it is important that we continue to work to keep this growing section of our community safe.
Progress has also been made in terms of the number of organised crime groups whose activities have been frustrated, disrupted and/or dismantled with a 12.8% increase in this activity from 1 April 2016 to 17 July 2016, in comparison to the same timeframe last year.
Significant effort has also been invested into reducing the average working days lost through sickness for police officers by 10%. A reduction of 13.6% has been achieved in this area from 1 April 2016 to 17 July 2016. Performance will continue to be closely monitored in the coming weeks and months.
HUMAN RESOURCES UPDATE
Campaign four for the recruitment of police officers will commence on 7 September. Prior to the campaign being launched there will be an awareness/advocacy programme commencing in mid-August.
There are two phases to the campaign:
Phase 1 - Awareness/Advocacy programme – this will include TV and cinema advertising and will run from the week commencing 15 August until week commencing 5 September.
Phase 2 - This will include radio, outdoor and online advertising and will run from 7 September until 30 September, when the campaign closes.
The organisation is also working to realign staff against policing demand. Staff promotion processes are being undertaken to facilitate the movement of staff across the organisation and we anticipate being in a position to commence promotions by the end of September. The aim is to ensure that police staff are in the best possible locations to ensure we are addressing our organisational priorities to Keep People Safe. Demand Measurement is also ongoing and this will assist to inform further staff reallocation in the coming months and years.
SERVICEFIRST CHANGE MANAGEMENT UPDATE
Policing with the Community
To determine how far the PSNI has imbedded Policing with the Community at a cultural, structural and operational level, a three month pilot research project is being undertaken with the PSNI and Ulster University in Antrim and Newtownabbey Policing District.
The research project, which starts in September 2016, will involve the following:
a. the collection of data and statistics from existing organisations to ascertain different indicators that measure the nature of relationships between the police and public;
a series of focus groups and interviews with local representatives from civil society to explore their perceptions of local policing; expectations of policing; understanding of Policing with the Community; and relationship with the police;
a series of focus groups and interviews with police officers from within the district to determine their views of Policing with the Community; benchmarks to measure success and record challenges and understanding of community collaboration.
The research project will run in 4 phases:
Phase 1 – Preliminary (including introduction and identification of key stakeholders);
Phase 2 – Research & Fieldwork;
Phase 3 – Draft report production (including agreement on format and
Phase 4 – Finalisation and presentation of Research Report.
The local Policing and Community Safety Partnership has been briefed on the research and an update will be provided to the Board as the project progresses.
Approximately 27,000 individuals are detained in PSNI custody each year, in 11 custody suites located across Northern Ireland. Custody officers have a statutory obligation to ensure that detainees receive appropriate clinical attention, as soon as reasonably practicable, if they appear to be suffering from a physical illness or mental disorder or are injured or appear to need clinical attention.
PSNI is committed to appropriately protecting the health and safety of individuals whilst in police custody and are currently exploring, in partnership with the DHSSPS and Public Health Agency (PHA), the development and subsequent delivery of a more effective, alternative custody healthcare model. As part of this process the PSNI, in collaboration with the PHA, has conducted a Health Needs Assessment (HNA) to assess the health needs of detainees within police custody across Northern Ireland. The findings of this assessment will be published shortly.
In June 2016 a Nurse Consultant from the PHA was seconded to the PSNI to identify the range of specialist skills required to address the evolving needs of those presenting in a custody environment. We intend that the future Custody healthcare model will include a mix of skills, such as embedded nurses in larger suites and appropriate healthcare pathways from police custody.
As part of the wider ServiceFirst change programme a review has been undertaken of Corporate Policy to assist in the process of reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and ensuring policies are ‘fit for purpose’, ‘user friendly’ and easily accessible. Through this process 19 Policy Directives will be reviewed, reformatted and renamed as Service Policies. These concise documents will be central to corporate governance and reflect the organisational vision. Currently there are 90 Service Procedures which again will be reviewed, reformatted and renamed as Service Instructions. These are practical instructions for service delivery to inform decision making in line with Service Policy.
Owners of each Policy Directive and Service Procedure will review and update for their particular area of expertise. This project is scheduled for completion early 2017 but as and when each current Directive and Procedure has been reviewed and signed off it will become active.
Body Worn Video
Following the successful roll-out and operational usage of Body Worn Video technology (BWV) to officers in Derry City and Strabane in June, the BWV Project Board met on the 26 July and ratified a decision to launch BWV in Belfast City Policing District in September. Work is already underway to train District officers in Belfast, with arrangements in place to provide briefings to Belfast PCSPs and other interested parties ahead of introduction. Roll-out of this innovative technology across the remaining Policing Districts remains on course, with anticipated completion in late 2017. A further update on BWV, including sharing of an Evaluation Report, is scheduled to be given to the Board Performance Committee in August.
Launch of Hate Crime social media campaign
Following the EU Referendum result, there was a notable increase in hate crime in some parts of the UK. Northern Ireland figures have not mirrored this trend. Between 3 June 2016 and 14 July 2016, 274 hate crimes were reported to the PSNI compared to 437 reported in the same period in 2015. This equates to a reduction of 37%. Racist hate crime accounted for 31% of all reported hate crime between 3 June and 14 July 2016 (86 offences). This is a reduction of over 30% from the same time period in 2015. Hate crime incidents also reduced during the period. However, we remain vigilant to this type of activity and the PSNI has launched the #VOICES hate crime social media campaign. The campaign was launched to coincide with the Belfast Pride Festival, with the first video highlighting homophobic hate crime.
Successful use of European Arrest Warrant
Police officers carried out an operation into an organised crime group involved in the supply of large quantities of Class A and B drugs in the Ballymena and Coleraine areas.
On 28 September 2012 police seized a large quantity of amphetamines, as well as cocaine and ecstasy tablets. Two couriers for the organised crime group were arrested, both of whom have since been convicted and imprisoned. As a result of a protracted investigation police charged the principal.
In January 2015 this male pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply and was granted continuing bail by the Crown Court to appear on 11 February 2015 for sentencing. He failed to appear. A European Arrest Warrant (EAW) was obtained, as he was believed to have left the UK. It was established that he had acquired an Irish passport in September 2015, in another name, and was believed to be living in Spain. Assistance was requested from the Spanish authorities and as a result he was arrested in Spain on 25 June 2016 by virtue of the EAW. He did not contest his extradition and was brought from Spain to Belfast on the 5 July 2016. He has been rearrested by virtue of the bench warrant issued previously as the result of failing to appear at the Crown Court for sentencing and will be brought before the Magistrates Court.
A Confiscation Order was also obtained on 14 August 2014, ordering him to pay £119,107 within 12 months – with five years (consecutive) imprisonment if in default.
Arrests following armed robberies
On 2 July two males were arrested after having entered three different commercial
premises armed with a knife and demanding money.
On 25 July two men were arrested in connection with a number of aggravated burglaries and robberies in Dungannon, West Belfast and Newcastle. The two men, travelling in a stolen vehicle, were detained by police on the Six Mile Straight in Antrim. They have been charged with more than 40 offences and have been remanded in custody to appear in court on 5 August. A number of the incidents took place at Parochial Houses.
Cash and high value commodities seized
Officers arrested four people on suspicion of money laundering and drugs offences after an operation in Armagh. Around £170,000 in cash, high-end designer watches, a taser and luxury cars were seized on 13 July, after officers stopped a van and carried out a number of follow-up searches.
Organised crime group dismantled
PSNI officers have dismantled an organised crime group that had been using an upmarket apartment block in Belfast as a hub to distribute drugs across the UK. In October 2014 officers seized £560,000 worth of herbal cannabis, smaller quantities of other drugs, cash and equipment used in cannabis cultivation. A number of other cash and drug seizures were made in other parts of Northern Ireland, cars were seized and restraining orders imposed on bank accounts. During the course of the investigation police officers conducted a total of 12 searches, made seven arrests and interviewed 13 people.
In July 2016, five of the organised crime group members admitted their roles in the operation which distributed drugs and laundered the proceeds. The first defendant, an illegal immigrant, was sentenced to five years imprisonment for drugs offences and three years, to run consecutively, for money laundering offences. The second defendant was sentenced to three years imprisonment for drugs offences. The third defendant was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment for drugs offences.
Two other defendants were sentenced to one year imprisonment, suspended for two, for money laundering offences. Confiscation proceedings are now being pursued.
Cannabis cultivation facility uncovered
On 4 July a cannabis cultivation facility was discovered in Coleraine, with approximately £40,000 worth of herbal cannabis seized. The seizure came about due to the excellent police work by local officers who noticed a strong smell coming from the premises. One man was arrested and charged.
Coroner Praises Efforts of Police Officers
A coroner has praised the efforts of officers who were the first of the emergency services staff to arrive at the scene of a house fire in County Fermanagh on 27 December 2015. The fire claimed the lives of Daphne Reid, 66 and her husband Franklin, who was 70.
Coroner Joe McCrisken said the police officers should be hailed as heroes due to the fact that they disregarded their own safety as they sought to rescue the couple. Constable Daniel Finnegan broke windows to let some smoke out before attempting to enter the burning house. Constable Damien Maguire also attempted to enter the house, but was prevented from doing so by thick smoke. The coroner also praised
paramedics and firefighters who attended the tragic incident.
Collaborative working – body recovery
The recovery of bodies is always a stressful situation for those affected and collaborative working between the PSNI Body Recovery Team, voluntary, statutory and commercial agencies, can result in a quicker more effective search which ultimately supports the families affected.
In July PSNI officers, working alongside NI Fire and Rescue Service and Community Rescue Service, recovered the body of a man who had taken his own life at a reservoir. Whilst the outcome was tragic for the family involved, the quick recovery of the body meant the distress associated with the search was not prolonged.
Officers praised by Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre for NI
PSNI continue to work in partnership with the Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre in order to safeguard those who have been the victim of a sexual assault. In the Rowan’s second year of operational service, 705 individuals contacted the facility for support, advice and clinical care. 531 individuals were referred in for services, with 77% of them being referred by police. The Rowan Team has provided support and care to both children and adults.
Two recent examples of good work by police officers have been highlighted by the Rowan Centre. In the first case the Rowan Service wished to highlight the excellent safeguarding practice put in place following the rape of a young girl, which assisted her to engage with the service. The other case highlighted referred to a vulnerable young woman who it transpired had considerable learning needs. An officer put in place provisions to safeguard her and was praised for engaging so effectively with the lady concerned and reassuring her.