Chief Constable's Report - Northern Ireland Policing Board, 7th March 2019

  • 07 March 2019

For Page Image - Crest centred.png

INTRODUCTION

As Chief Constable, it is pleasing to see that all of the accountability structures of the
Policing Board are now fully operational. With the Policing Board Committees of
Performance, Resourcing and Partnership now functioning, we have the ability to
highlight our successes, be held to account and explore future opportunities to make
policing even better, with the support of Board members.

The special Board meeting, on 26 February 2019, gave us the ability to make
ourselves fully accountable and transparent around our failings in the disclosure of
legacy documents to the Police Ombudsman. It also provided the unique
opportunity to create political and public discourse which will serve to highlight the
complexity and breadth of the challenges the PSNI face around legacy issues.

Despite the challenges of the past, the PSNI continues to Keep People Safe in the
present and be there for them in their hour of need. Every day we receive an
average of 1,552 calls for service of which 36% relate to vulnerability, investigate
269 crimes, arrest 77 people, prepare 112 prosecution files, locate 33 missing
people and receive 15 referrals for safeguarding support for children.

OPERATIONAL UPDATE

Serious Crime
With four murder investigations since the start of the year, it has been a challenging
time for our Serious Crime Branch, C2, who are a branch of Crime Operations
Department, headed by ACC Barbara Gray.

Like most areas of business within the PSNI, budget reductions have also impacted
on Serious Crime Branch. In our Priority Based Resourcing review in 2017, the
number of our Major Investigation Teams (MIT) was reduced from eight to five; albeit
the new MITs have slightly higher staffing levels.

Despite these reductions in capacity, we have worked hard to maintain the capability
of our serious crime response and have implemented more efficient practices and
stronger collaborative working with partners such as the Public Prosecution Service.
This has been hugely successful and has seen our backlog of serious crime cases
reduce from 131 to 92 (down 30%).


The next strategic step for faster criminal justice outcomes is the implementation of
legislation to remove the Preliminary Inquiry stage from the most serious offences
and revert them to the Crown Court at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately, there
can be no progress on this issue in the absence of our devolved Government.

MITs are responsible for the investigation of serious crime offences such as
homicide, kidnap and other major and complex criminal investigations. All
Detectives in MITs are highly trained in a number of specialist areas. Senior
Investigating Officers (Detective Chief Inspector) and Deputy Senior Investigating
Officers (Detective Inspector) will have completed the Senior Investigating Officers
Development Programme, which is nationally accredited and will also have achieved
a Professionalising Investigation Programme (PIP) Level 3.

Detective Sergeants and Detective Constables within the team also have expertise
in a number of specialist areas, such as Tier 3 Interviewing, Interview Coordination,
House-to-House Coordination and Telephone Liaison. Detailed below is a snapshot
of the progress of Serious Crime investigations since the start of the year:-

Wayne Boylan - The investigation into the murder of Wayne Boylan on 20 January
2019 is ongoing and we are still working hard to establish a motive for this attack.
Our CCTV enquiries are ongoing. Two persons have been arrested and released on
bail and several house searches have been conducted. The other victim of this
shooting has been released from hospital and has sustained life changing injuries.

Ian Ogle - The investigation into the murder of Ian Ogle on 27 January 2019
continues at pace and to date 14 arrests and 21 searches have been conducted.
One person has been charged with murder and is remanded in custody. A number
of other persons are being actively sought for arrest. More than 600 houses within
the community have been visited and we have taken time to provide community
reassurance, whilst gathering evidence.


Pat Ward - Pat Ward was killed on 9 February 2019. He was socialising in a house
with friends in the hours before he died and went to a small cul-de-sac on the
outskirts of Clogher where he was brutally attacked. A motive for this murder is still
not clear. Mr Ward was repeatedly stabbed and left to die in an alleyway, some fifty
yards away where he was found the next morning. Two persons were subsequently
arrested, interviewed and charged with the murder of Mr Ward. They are currently
remanded in custody. One other person was arrested and charged with withholding
information and distributing the images in relation to CCTV material which appeared
on social media.

David Murphy - The investigation into the murder of David Murphy on 19 February
2019 is at an early stage. Mr Murphy was killed at home in his kitchen and
sustained a fatal shot to the head. The investigation has been pursuing several lines
of enquiry; however the remote rural location of this murder provides limited
opportunities for CCTV recovery and house to house enquiries. No arrests have
been made to date. Family Liaison and community engagement are ongoing.

While Serious Crime Branch continues to carry a constant heavy case load, their
efforts are not without considerable success, with high detection rates for murder
and related offences.

Some recent examples of this can be evidenced following the murders of Colin
Horner in Bangor in March 2017 and the murder of George Gilmore in Carrickfergus
just six days later. To date six individuals have been convicted in relation to Mr
Horner, four for murder, while three individuals are currently standing trial for the
murder of Mr Gilmore. In February 2019, one person was also convicted of
attempting to murder a PSNI officer by placing a bomb under their vehicle.


Likewise at the end of last year, following the murders of Pauline Kilkenny on the 13
November 2108, Edward Meenan on the 25 November 2018 and Padraig Fox on 8
December 2018, Detectives have charged five individuals with murder and a further
two with connected offences. In an analysis of eight murders that occurred between
March 2017 and December 2018, 17 individuals were charged with murder, nine of
whom have already been convicted, while others await trial.


Domestic Abuse Campaign
The PSNI Public Protection Branch has worked closely with the Department of
Justice and our Corporate Communications Department over the past year and
utilised social media to highlight the harm caused by Domestic Abuse.


Over Christmas and New Year, the PSNI Christmas Domestic Abuse Campaign ran
on Social Media from 13 December 2018 - 5 January 2019. This complemented the
very successful TV and radio campaign focussing on the Domestic Violence and
Abuse Disclosure Scheme, led by the Department of Justice. The PSNI campaign
focussed on the ‘walking on eggshells’ message with video, graphics and the staged
release of a number of pre-recorded messages over the Christmas period.


The campaign had a total reach of 193,143 people actually seeing the posts and
4,600 proactively engaging by sharing, commenting or liking the posts. Our
provisional figures indicate that during the time period of the campaign there was an
increase of 10% in the number of incidents reported last year.


Releasing Funds back into Communities

In recent weeks, the Department of Justice announced that £1.8 million which was
recovered from proceeds of crime will go towards helping 50 local projects under the
Assets Recovery Community Scheme. Much of these funds were as a result of
assets seized by PSNI from criminal gangs and will now be used to go back into
helping keep communities safe, to reduce crime and the fear of crime and to address
the underlying causes for offending behaviour.

On 22 February 2019, the National Crime Agency (NCA), working within the
Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF), announced that they had obtained a
Recovery Order on a Carrickfergus property under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This
investigation related to the home of an alleged senior member of the paramilitary
group South East Antrim UDA in Carrickfergus.

PSNI will use any and all lawful means at our disposal to bring paramilitaries to
justice. Whilst this latest seizure is significant, we have a great deal more to do in
conjunction with the wider Tackling Paramilitarism Program.

We have been encouraged in recent weeks by the increase in persons coming
forward to police with information about paramilitary activity. It takes courage to do
so, but does make a huge difference to removing the blight of paramilitarism from
our communities.

LEGACY

Failure to Disclose Information to Police Ombudsman

We were grateful for the opportunity to explain our actions and be accountable for
our failure to disclose information to the Police Ombudsman at the special Policing
Board meeting, on 26 February 2019.

Since that meeting, I have met with the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Inspection
in Northern Ireland (CJINI) to discuss his requirements as he prepares Terms of
Reference for his independent review.


As I advised the Policing Board at the special meeting, we are continuing with our
own internal review to ensure that any remedial action is affected as soon as
possible. We had undertaken to update the Policing Board on the timescales of the
various actions within our internal review, which have now been shared with the
Board alongside this report.


These actions and timescales may need to be revised when we understand the
scope and phases of the CJINI review, however we will keep the Policing Board fully
updated as to our progress and any changes.


I would welcome support from the Policing Board and encourage them to engage
with the UK Government, in the absence of the Northern Ireland Executive, to create
the mechanism for the removal of legacy investigation and disclosure from PSNI to a
more appropriate body.


FINANCE UPDATE

With only a few weeks of the financial year remaining, I am pleased to report that
PSNI should again deliver a breakeven budget position. This discipline should not
however be used to conceal the real financial and operational stress faced by the
organisation in delivering within a reduced budget. Indeed, it has only been possible
to project a breakeven position due to significant additional funding received during
the year from the Department of Justice.


Inevitably, the focus is now on our plans for 2019-20 and whilst we understand that
an announcement is due imminently, there is still no clarity around the potential
policing budget for the year. This is a significant concern for the organisation and
has the potential to impair decisions about the allocation of resources, areas of cost
reduction and service levels. Depending on the final settlement, it could directly
impact confidence in policing and front line services in Keeping People Safe.

HUMAN RESOURCE UPDATE

Attendance Management and Wellbeing
Policing is primarily a public service which is delivered through our people, so our
workforce is clearly our most important asset. It is therefore important that we
maintain a workforce with good physical and mental health and ensure they are
supported in the event of sickness or injury and encouraged to return at the earliest
opportunity.


With ever reducing resources, PSNI faces significant challenges by the high number
of those who are absent from work or not operationally deployable. The Average
Working Days lost for police officers is projected at 14.09 days per year and for
police staff it is 11.42 days per year. In January 2019, the number of police officers
absent from work per day totaled 418 and the number of police staff was 123. The
vast majority of sickness absence in the PSNI is musculoskeletal and trauma
related.

In addition to sickness, a significant number of officers and staff also have duty
restrictions, meaning that that they are unable to perform the full range of duties due
to injury or illness. Over 800 police officers have duty restrictions (551 permanent
restrictions). There are also 80 police staff with duty restrictions.

The current risks posed by sick absence and duty restrictions are included within the
PSNI Corporate Risk Register and we are continuing to urgently implement a
number of remedial actions to reduce these numbers.

PSNI has also significantly invested in specialist resourcing within the Occupational
Health & Wellbeing Department to provide an adequate service to our officers and
staff who need it.

An Employee Engagement and Wellbeing group has been established under the
governance of our Culture, Ethics and Diversity Board. Some of the workstreams
which are being taken forward by the Head of Human Resources include
implementing personal resilience and mental health awareness training; menopause support; introduction of whole health programmes; introducing role specific
psychological assessments, tenure, secondments for specialist roles and enhancing
flexible working. A Wellbeing Coordinator has also been appointed, who is
coordinating our wellbeing activity across the organisation.


We are also actively engaged in the ‘Oscar Kilo’ national project which captures best
practice for emergency services wellbeing and have recently won an award in their
‘Protecting the Workforce’ category. This is important work for us, as from our
benchmarking exercise we know the issues we are experiencing are not isolated to
the PSNI, given the heightened levels of vulnerability and mental ill health in society.


Our progress on the wellbeing of the organisation is also regularly tested through our
workforce surveys. The next launch of our workforce survey is scheduled for
Autumn 2019. The response rate to the 2017 survey saw 2,859 police officers and
police staff complete the survey (32.6%).

CONCLUSION

Whilst policing the past understandably continues to dominate the media headlines,
we continue to positively respond to the many policing challenges of the present.

Amongst these challenges is our preparedness for EU Exit and with the date
drawing ever closer, we still have limited information on which to develop firm plans.
Our planning response therefore remains agile and flexible.

As we reported last month, our planning for EU Exit is broad in scope and
encompasses everything from the potential impacts on police powers, such as
European Arrest Warrants, through to ensuring that PSNI is operationally prepared
with the right resources in place to provide police support and response to any
emerging issues.


We anticipate being able to provide a more detailed update at next month’s Policing
Board, when there may be more clarity on likely EU Exit scenarios.


Keeping People Safe