Agenda item


Purpose of the report: to set out the unaudited financial performance of the Surrey Police Group (i.e. OPCC and Chief Constable combined) as at the year-end 31 March 2023. It compares the Group financial results with the budgets approved by the PCC in February 2022 for the financial year 2022/23.



Lisa Townsend, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC)

Kelvin Menon, Chief Financial Officer, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC)

Key points raised during the discussion:

  1. A member asked what lessons had been learnt from the revenue and capital underspends detailed in the report for 2022/23 (£8.7M & £6.6M respectively). How would these feed into budget profiling for 2024/25?  The CFO explained that revenue underspend was due to phasing of uplift recruitment and staff vacancies which had been higher than anticipated. The vacancy margin for 2023/24 had been increased to reduce the risk of underspend in the 23/24 budget. On capital, the plan was to move to a two-year capital programme rather than expecting all the capital to be spent in one year.  The CFO was asked about overtime costs which had increased on the previous year (£8.1M to £8.9M).  This was due to vacancies which had increased overtime particularly in the contact centre. Staff were now less willing to do overtime and the Force was looking to reduce the overtime budget to £7.4million. An overtime Working Group looked regularly at the issue including from a staff wellbeing point of view.  The Chairman asked about the practice of banking overtime and taking time off in lieu. The CFO agreed to come back to the Chairman on whether this remained a practice. (Action iii)


  1. A member asked about the overspend in Digital Forensics, Professional Standards Department and legal costs. What was the reason for the rising demand in these areas and how much overspend was attributable to outsourcing?  On digital forensics the CFO explained that most crimes now had an electronic element which meant significant demand for digital forensics services.  Staff were trained to do this within the Force, but costs were rising due to volume. On legal costs, improved mechanisms for reporting concerns to the professional standards department had increased the volume of incidents to be investigated and associated legal costs for disciplinary procedures. The CFO agreed to revert with further detail on the question of outsourcing Digital Forensics work. (Action iv)


  1. A Member noted that OPCC Operational costs represented around 0.5% of net total group expenditure and asked how this compared to other Force areas.  The CFO explained that comparative data was not readily available. Many Forces do not separate OPCC figures out in their budget. The Chairman supported the Commissioner’s transparency in providing these figures when others chose not to.  The Commissioner explained that most PCCs aimed to keep the figure at around 1% or below of total group expenditure on which basis 0.5% for the Surrey OPCC seemed a reasonable amount. The use of reserves to cover business as usual costs was raised.


  1. Asked about the government’s uplift target for officers and discrepancies between different figures provided the CFO explained that the government’s officer target was for headcount (2,253) whereas the Force budgeted on the basis of FTE. This can cause discrepancies due to the numbers of part time staff. As at 30 September the Force was on target to meet the baseline government target for headcount in 2024.


  1. A member queried IT slippage which accounted for a £3.7M underspend and asked whether the IT strategy was fit for purpose. The CFO responded that in the past the strategy was lacking. A new CDIO Anthony Croxford was now in place and working to restructure and upskill the workforce to ensure it was fit for the future. The difficulties of attracting staff with the necessary IT skills were highlighted in a highly competitive jobs market. A member pressed the CFO on the timing for IT transformation. When would the IT improvements required to achieve more efficient ways of working and associated savings be delivered; and what was the timeline for moving from physical IT servers to the Cloud? The CFO responded that there were many hundred IT applications some of which were not suitable to put into the cloud. Each one needed to be reviewed and rationalised. There were also security implications. It was a complex area, but progress had been made.  Officers were now well equipped with laptops and personal devices and could work remotely. Surrey was ahead of most neighbouring Forces in this area, including the Met. The Chairman accepted the PCCs offer and asked for CDIO Croxford to come and talk to the Panel about Force IT.


RESOLVED: The Panel noted the report.


Actions/Further information requested:


i)              The CFO to respond to the Chairman’s question regarding the practice of banking overtime and taking time off in lieu and whether this remained a practice.

ii)             The CFO to revert with further detail on the question of outsourcing Digital Forensics work - how much of the Digital Forensics spend is attributable to outsourcing and are we spending more because we are having to spend on suppliers not staff?


Supporting documents: