Agenda item


Purpose: The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (2011) places a duty on Police and Crime Commissioners to produce an Annual Report. The report should cover the exercise of the PCC’s functions in the financial year and the progress made in meeting the Police and Crime Plan. The report should be presented to the Police and Crime Panel for comment and recommendations, and then a formatted version produced and published.


The attached Annual Report covers the period April 2022 to March 2023 and is submitted to the Police and Crime Panel for comment.



Lisa Townsend, Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey

Ellie Vesey-Thompson, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey

Damian Markland, Head of Performance and Governance (OPCC)

Alison Bolton, Chief Executive (OPCC)

Kelvin Menon, Chief Finance Officer (OPCC)

Key points raised in the discussion:

1.    The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) gave an overview of the year highlighting areas of success for the OPCC including £9million of funding for commissioning through competitive bids to government; a new Chief Constable recruited and more police officers in Surrey than ever before, exceeding the government uplift target by 136 officers. The PCC highlighted challenges around staff retention plus those arising from her national roles on Mental Health and Roads and Transport.


2.    A Panel Member asked what could be done to address the staff retention issue and to stop officers from leaving. The PCC explained that an extra 395 officers had been recruited as part of Operation Uplift. This included a deliberate over recruitment by 136 to address a backlog in retirements post-covid. The planned number of recruits for FY2023-34 was 228.  The PCC outlined various steps to help retention including a move away from the degree-only route into policing; work around mental health and the Right Care Right Person strategy aimed at ensuring officers are not attending incidents where a mental health professional would be more appropriate; plus access to affordable housing. The OPCC were working to ensure a hub of affordable housing stock was available in each division for officers. A Panel Member (AC) asked if the number of officers who had left the force since the uplift began in 2019 could be provided in writing. [Action i: OPCC to provide data on the number of officers who have left the force since the uplift began in 2019]


3.    A panel member noted that Victim Satisfaction rates continue to fall and remain worse than last year and queried the reason behind this decline. The PCC emphasised that this was a wider criminal justice challenge and that the satisfaction rates reflected public dissatisfaction with the overall criminal justice system. Work by the Deputy PCC to enhance public satisfaction through improved communications between the public and the police was outlined. The PCC noted that if the public feel well communicated with by the police it makes a real difference. The PCC explained that some of the statistics underpinning overall satisfaction rates were actually very positive, for example around domestic abuse where many of the victim satisfaction metrics were high. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that victim support which had previously been delivered by an external contract was now ‘in house’ and properly embedded within the Force. This had improved the service provided to victims and raised the profile and understanding of victim support internally.


4.    A Panel Member expressed sympathy with the PCC’s concerns over policing and mental health and queried whether commissioning efforts could be focused in this area. The ‘No Time To Wait’ campaign was flagged. The PCC emphasised the police’s continuing commitment to attend calls under section 26 where there was a threat to life, but that officers should not be attending every call relating to mental health. Concern was expressed that the crisis in mental health provision was taking officers away from the front line. The PCC reported that in February 2023 alone, officers spent 515 hours on incidents relating to mental health. This was the highest number of hours ever recorded.  The PCC emphasised her support for the ‘Right Care Right person’ model due for national roll-out later this year. On commissioning the PCC explained that the areas for funding are dictated by government according to central priorities.


5.    A Panel Member asked about the findings from the resident’s survey into anti-social behaviour (ASB) and issues around the time it takes to report ASB via 101. The PCC acknowledged the challenge around reporting anti-social behaviour, especially when issues reported are not always policing issues. Key concerns for local residents included antisocial driving and speeding, littering, antisocial and inconsiderate parking, drugs, vandalism and criminal damage.  The PCC anticipated a renewed focus from the new Chief Constable on antisocial behaviour and on how the police correctly record and address these issues where they are crimes.


6.    Responding to a query about Transit Sites the PCC expressed frustration at the lack of a transit site in Surrey which remains a real challenge for the Police. The PCC explained that the new legislation was helpful but only if you had a transit site for the police to move people onto. On the issue of car meets the PCC outlined a change in approach by Surrey Police: rather than attempting dispersal the police were now taking records of attendees and sending warning letters to the owners of cars involved, often to parents. These advised where participation fell into illegal behaviour. The PCC said there was work to be done working with districts and boroughs to make it harder for people to engage in this sort of antisocial activity.


7.    A Panel Member noted that there was no mention of rural crime in the report and asked for an update on progress against the objective to keep rural communities safe. The Commissioner accepted that this was an omission and agreed to take the recommendation away. The Deputy PCC updated the Panel on work to engage rural communities, specific changes in Mole Valley and work across the county and nationally to address rural crime and build cross border partnerships.

[Action ii: OPCC to include progress on rural crime objectives in the draft Annual Report]


8.    A Panel Member expressed concern that the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Annual report was more activity than outcome focused and did not truly assess performance and progress towards meeting objectives. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that the annual report needed to be accessible and digestible to the public as well as meeting the needs of those more interested in data and performance. This was a challenge. OPCC agreed to take the comments away and to look at whether a greater sense of trajectory could be provided.

[Action iii: OPCC to review Annual report in light of the comments by Cllr Kennedy with a view to giving a greater sense of progress towards meeting objectives]


9.         The Chairman requested an update on the promise of a rural crime officer per borough, confusion over what constituted a rural crime and difficulties with reporting and logging these. The deputy PCC assured the Chairman that there was a dedicated PCSO per borough and three officers across the county. The system for reporting rural crimes remains problematic however national work is underway to try to address and improve this across the country. The DPCC noted issues relating to the validity of reports and data arising from assurance scams.


10.       A Panel Member followed up on the issue of the provision of a transit site to clarify that this was not the responsibility of Surrey County Council but of the Borough and District Councils. Surrey had offered land for a transit site in Surrey, but the overall project was not a Surrey County Council responsibility. Background and correspondence on this project had been forwarded to the Commissioner separately. The PCC responded that Surrey had appeared to be the lead on the project and had approached OPCC for the money, nevertheless, her main concern was achieving the right outcome regardless of responsibilities. In order for the police to make use of the powers granted by government through new legislation a transit site was needed. The Chairman highlighted the need to work together to make progress on this issue and to find a solution sooner rather than later.


11.      A Panel Member queried whether engagement with residents through community visits, surveys and surgeries had identified any necessary changes to the plan or new priorities. The PCC responded that the priorities remained the right ones and expressed confidence that there were plenty of avenues for the public to get involved and have their say.


12.      A Panel Member asked what the PCC had done to build relationships and improve engagement within minorities. The PCC outlined engagement with a range of groups including Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as well as Disability Groups; and emphasised the importance of prioritising groups who may find it challenging to contact the Police. The force had received training on this. A new Equality Diversity and Inclusion statement had been published and was available on the PCC website. Work by the DPCC to engage youth groups including the Youth Commission and the Children and Young Persons fund was also outlined. The OPCC was working hard to improve accessibility and make it easier for the public to engage via the website.


13.      On complaints, the PCC noted that comments made in the past that have given rise to these were around the issue of self-identification and women’s rights, particularly the issue of men self-identifying as women in women’s safe-spaces (for example the domestic abuse refuge). The PCC reiterated her commitment to stand up for the rights of women to have their own safe spaces and highlighted the conflict of rights between self-identification and the rights for women in this area. The PCC welcomed further debate on the matter.


14.      A panel member questioned the PCC’s ambition as stated in the Annual report to pursue greater penalties for those who endanger lives while operating vehicles. The PCC explained that surrey police recorded more than 700 collisions which resulted in serious injury in 2022 (an increase on 2021). A number of initiatives were underway and focused on addressing this including the Stay Safe Stay Alive campaign. The PCC highlighted her role on the National Strategy Group on road Safety looking at all aspects of road safety including penalties and whether these require review. The PCC noted that public appetite for higher penalties for drivers who speed or drive dangerously is clear and that a new government strategy was being developed. The PCC invited suggestions from the Panel on what should be represented locally to the police and to the national boards on these issues. The issue of drug driving and nitrous oxide cannisters was also discussed.


15.      Following up on road safety, a panel member drew attention to a fatal incident on Smarts Heath road which might have been averted had preventative measures been in place. The PCC flagged that speed camera and street furniture installation was the responsibility of Surrey County Council.


16.      There was a discussion on projects and services commissioning and future expectations. The Head of Performance and Governance explained that funding opportunities were dependent on government priorities and spending aims. The OPCC was proud of its success in this area which had been achieved through pre-emptive identification of gaps and building an evidence base. This meant OPCC was well placed to respond quickly to calls-for-bids as they arose.  A panel member asked how achievement against objectives was monitored and whether there was any objective confirmation of success in this area.  The Head of Performance and Governance explained that all services had reporting requirements relating to outcomes and service provision. OPCC had a high degree of confidence in the scrutiny of service delivery and monitoring and of the processes in place. The Head of Performance and Governance assured the Panel that Surrey was batting above its weight in terms of commissioning funding success.


17.      A Panel Member raised questions relating to the forecast underspend (of £2.5M rising to £7.9M), use of surplus funds and the staff pension deficit. The Chief Finance Officer noted that the underspend in question (£2.5M) was only 1% of the budget and that this was the force’s month-8 projection of outturn. This had turned out to be overly optimistic in terms of speed of recruitment for the uplift and delays with capital projects and IT. The Chief Finance Officer agreed that less optimism and more realism in projections was necessary. In terms of use of surplus funds these were a one off benefit, not year on year, therefore the approach was to put them in reserve for use on one-off projects such as money for solar panels or new lighting as part of Net Zero. Some of the money went into the PCCs reserve, the Cost of Change reserve and the Inflationary Contingency reserve. The risks associated with the outcomes of the pay review body were noted. An extra 4% in pay would mean an additional pay pressure of around £9 million and so money was being put aside for that. A  Member suggested using some of the surplus to make an advance payment against the staff pension deficit. The Chief Finance Officer explained that the fund was currently in surplus but that the historical deficit was being paid off in instalments. With current interest rates it did not make financial sense to pay this off with underspend. The Panel Member requested further detail on the historical deficit including the actual amount and what discount would be offered if it was paid off sooner.

[Action iv:  OPCC to provide a written response setting out the historical civil staff pension deficit amount and what interest rate is being paid on it.]


18.      A Panel Member noted that the previous Commissioner had Value for Money (VFM) as an objective in the Police and Crime Plan and queried its omission. The PCC stated that VFM ran through the entire plan and everything that the police and OPCC did and was therefore not a standalone priority. The Chief Finance Officer concurred that VFM was more important than ever in the current financial environment where there was not enough income to provide services. Significant efficiencies would be needed just to maintain current provision.  He also said that t was something the External Auditors reported on.




The Panel agreed to write formally to the PCC with any comments and recommendations regarding the Annual report.


[Action v. Panel to write to the Police and Crime Commissioner on the draft Annual Report.]


Supporting documents: