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004/2016: Front Counter, secretarial and exhibits staffing review – 03 February 2016

Executive Summary and Recommendations:

North Yorkshire Police (NYP) has undertaken comprehensive affordability planning in order to meet the financial challenges ahead, as cited in the recently published HMIC PEEL: Efficiency 2015 inspection report. Whilst the funding settlement for 2016/17 is extremely helpful, savings still need to be made in order to meet our statutory financial duties. In order to help us achieve the required savings, a review of NYP’s Business Administration Services (BAS) has been conducted, which includes front counter services in police stations (i.e. reception desks), and the working hours of the administrative staff who provide them.

Having thoroughly reviewed these services, taking into consideration that fewer than one in 20 crimes are now reported via front counters, this Decision Notice recommends that the Executive Board:

Amend the opening hours of existing police station front counters to better reflect the actual usage of the communities they support, and using those hours to provide necessary secretarial and exhibits (i.e. storage) support. 

In addition, we have listened to the public’s feedback that they find it extremely frustrating to see people in a police station but for them not to answer the door. A new policy of ‘when we’re in, we’re open’ will be introduced.  This means that even if front counter staff are not working, but others are, the public will still get a response and the station will be open to them. 

Implementation of the proposals is planned to commence on the 2nd May 2016, with the resultant part-year financial savings of £360,632 in 2016/17 and recurrent full year revenue budget savings of £393,417 thereafter.


Police and Crime Commissioner decision: Approved

Signature: signature
Date: 03 February 2016
Title: Police and Crime Commissioner

1. Introduction and Background

1.1 Front Counter and Community Access 


Business Administration Services currently provide a range of services to external customers, partner agencies and internal colleagues through a network of front counter customer service teams, exhibits management teams, administration support and secretarial and transcription services.   In order to ensure we are continuing to provide the most appropriate and efficient service to our customers in a challenging financial environment, a review has been undertaken of the Business Administration Services department.

This document sets out the changes we are proposing to make to public front counter services across North Yorkshire and the City of York; taking into account feedback from research with the public (non-emergency first contact review) and data on current services, while at the same time providing value for money to the public.

There are wider considerations and recommendations for the administration, secretarial and exhibits management support provided to the organisation included within this Review but as those recommendations largely centre around internal support services and not public facing services (back office), this decision notice focuses on the recommendations relating to public access.

Our aim is to develop a service that meets the needs of our community in a modern society where both operational and transactional services (e.g. accessing and returning firearms licenses) are available through a number of mediums.

This proposal sets out changes that will continue to meet customer needs whilst ensuring the most productive utilisation of our resources. At the same time, NYP are developing new options for the public to contact the police which better use mobile and digital technologies.

The position now

Front counters offer the public the opportunity to visit a police station in person to report a crime or traffic collision, hand in lost property, meet bail or court-imposed conditions, or seek advice.  The way people choose to access the police has changed, and we can now engage and communicate with the public in many different ways, such as via social media and the NYP website.

Traditional and historical concepts of police stations have meant that there is often a mix of functions taking place in the same building, meaning reception, enforcement, and victim-focused functions can all take place at the same counter, which is not always appropriate.

This paper highlights that, whilst front counters still have a vital role to play in offering a broad range of services to our local communities, the use of these facilities varies widely between locations.  The gradual decline in front counter use means that some stations now see fewer than two visitors a day.  The current service does not meet our customers’ preferences for making contact and becomes increasingly expensive as fewer and fewer people access it.

Customer access is currently provided across 20 open police front counters with a further reception facility being provided at Headquarters, Newby Wiske.  In addition, bespoke customer access facilities are provided by dedicated volunteers at a further five sites and by partner agencies at five locations:

Diagram 1

The number of people reporting crimes at front counters has fallen over recent years, as people turn to other forms of communication, including online.  In fact, of all the crime reports received by North Yorkshire Police in 2014/15, fewer than 1 in 20 were reported at front counters.

Feedback from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s “A Review of First Contact Customer Experience provided by North Yorkshire Police” highlights that our customers overwhelmingly prefer to contact us by phone but are increasingly looking for options and more flexibility in accessing policing services, but that the focus should still be on local policing and consistent communication.  Telephone contact and contact via email or, progressively, by text and web chat come back as preferred options for making first contact with the police.

In a nutshell, our local communities are demanding a wider range of useful, efficient, secure and reliable channels both to contact the police and to report incidents.  Our customers are looking for their police service to provide a joined-up, end-to-end and consistent journey which is supported by contact methods that are appropriate, easy to access and that keep pace with technological developments. 


Public access is about more than just police buildings.  NYP are committed to providing the communities of North Yorkshire and the City of York more ways to contact the police; from telephone contact and a wider use of face to face appointments, to an increasing range of online services as technology progresses, through to more traditional front counters.   The recommendations of this Review will save money, but also allow us to develop new ways to improve public access by bringing the police to the public in innovative ways whist, at the same time, maintaining a well-established network of police station front counters.

It is recognised that our police station front counters continue to play a vital role in the provision of services to the communities of North Yorkshire and the City of York.  Police Front Counters will continue to offer the full range of policing services and transactions, from reporting crimes, missing persons and road traffic collisions to receiving lost and found property reports, to producing documents and managing offenders and will be supported in future by a wider range of alternative access options .

It is proposed that, as work is underway to develop the wider range of contact options that will support the changing requirements of our local communities, the current network of front counters is retained but that opening hours are amended to bring them into line with the level of customer activity currently experienced at each site.

Based on the current network of police station front counters, population estimation data has been aligned to the total number of visitors per year to identify how services could be provided in the future. This data has been used to inform proposals for amendments to opening times to best respond to local access requirements:


Using the population data produced by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the City of York, together with the customer access activity data from the 2014/15 year for the current network of front counters, it is proposed that tiers of Front Counter access are identified: 

  • Main station sites have a local population of more than 10,000 AND more than 10,000 visitors per year;
  • Large station sites have a local population of more than 10,000 AND more than 2,000 visitors per year;
  • Medium station sites have a local population of more than 10,000 AND fewer than 2,000 visitors per year; 
  • Small station sites have a local population of fewer than 10,000 AND fewer than 2,000 visitors per year.

Main stations represent densely populated areas in North Yorkshire, are coterminous with the custody centres provided across North Yorkshire and the City of York and experience our highest volumes of demand for accessing front counter and visitor services.

It is proposed that Main station sites open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days/week; that Large station sites open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and that Medium and Small station sites open Monday to Friday, 9am to 12.30pm:

Diagram 2

Details on the data collected about visiting times to front counters can be seen in Appendix H.

Local police stations will offer an ‘open door’ policy, meaning that whenever the station is manned, even if the front counter is not open, officers or staff will open the door to visitors. In other words, when they, are in they are open.

It is proposed that North Yorkshire Police continue to make full use of co-produced services and facilities with public sector partners and that some of the Large, Medium and Small stations provide the ideal opportunity to further develop this model through the provision of a wide range of policing and partner services at a shared facility.

1.2 Organisational Support Services

The Review also explored opportunities to develop the wide range of services undertaken by the Business Administration Services team.  It should be noted that the recommendations to develop the organisational support services provided by Business Administration Services are wholly dependent on the approval of recommendations to amend opening hours and the resultant resource and revenue budget changes that will be achieved from that restructure.

Business Administration Services currently provide support to the organisation in the storage and management of its exhibits.  This support service plays a fundamental role in securing successful prosecutions and it is vital to ensure that the service provided is robust, efficient and that the integrity of any exhibit is maintained from the point of seizure, throughout the investigation and through to any resultant prosecution.

We are seeking to minimise any potential risk to the successful prosecution of offenders and secure positive outcomes for victims by further tightening our grip on the exhibits management process and propose the establishment of a dedicated exhibits management service.  The proposed teams will provide additional capacity in the management of exhibits and the function will be guided and developed by our dedicated Exhibits Manager.

The newly established Exhibits Management Support Officers will act as a central co-ordination point for the storage and disposal of both general exhibits and for certain types of sensitive property.  They will also be expected to provide a central referral point for exhibits storage and disposal queries and will become the organisation’s experts in exhibits storage and retention.

The provision of secretarial support to the organisation has historically been focussed on support for District Commanders.  It is proposed that a small pool of professional secretarial support officers should be established to provide secretarial support to the wider operational departments.  The pool would operate on a centralised, shared-service model to ensure resilience and would provide open access to secretarial services.

The transcription service provided by Business Administration Services is a very well used, professional and efficient service.  There is recognition that the support currently provided by the team of typists could be provided on a much more flexible basis and it is recommended that this team of staff are used as a pilot for trialling a number of agile working options such as self-rostering, home-working, split-location working.

It is further proposed that there is a reorganisation of the transactional administration services provided to the organisation which will see the alignment of end-to-end processes within the most appropriate department.

This review has also considered the management structure currently in place to support the teams and to provide wider support to internal colleagues and makes recommendations around the restructure of the management team to support the newly established department structure.

2. Other Options Considered

A full evaluation was undertaken of the overall structure of the department, with a particular focus on the potential to devolve the management of the front counter teams to local inspectors.

This has been discounted as it does not offer a viable solution for the range of services provided by Business Administration Services.  The reasons for this include:

  • Lack of flexibility to move resources between districts to ensure resilience
  • Unable to move workloads around to ensure agreed Service Levels are consistently achieved
  • Increased potential for variations in service delivery and training support
  • Risk to consistent process design

3. Contribution to Police and Crime Plan Priorities

Policing Priorities

  • Protect Vulnerable People
  • Cut Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Focus on Prevention and Early Intervention
  • Improve Victim Care

This review recommends broadening the range of contact options we offer to our local communities.  This will allow us to improve the services we can provide to our customers and should provide environments appropriate to the needs of all members of our community.

The implementation of the recommendations linked to exhibits management will safeguard the integrity of evidence to support successful prosecutions and positive outcomes for victims.

Corporate Priorities 

  • Transforming the Organisation
  • People First
  • Partnerships and Commissioning

Changing the way services are delivered by building on the dedicated Exhibits Management role, the development of Customer Service Managers and Customer Service Officers, the identification and implementation of modern, fit for purpose facilities, providing alternative means of access to NYP will improve our responsiveness to the public, reduce bureaucracy and increase productivity.

The proposed redesign of services will ensure that our staff are working in the right environment, with the right tools and support to provide the right level of service to our customers.

We are exploring various options for partnership working with Community Hubs and we are providing administration support into established partnership arrangements.  Collaborative working with other Forces and the National Front Counter Forum community will ensure we are forerunners with service development opportunities.

4. Implementation and Resourcing Implications

4.1 Implementation Plan – Proposed Timescales

The high level proposed implementation timescales are:

High Level Proposed Implementation Timescales1

  • Proposal to Executive Board – 23 November 2015
  • Consultation – Commence Nov/Dec 2015
  • Proposed Implementation – 2 May 2016

1As with all change programme implementation, a measured and co-ordinated approach will be taken to the management of risk, communication planning and operational implementation.

4.2 Revenue Budget

Implementation of the proposals is planned to commence on the 2nd May 2016, with the resultant part-year financial savings of £360,632 in 2016/17 and recurrent full year revenue budget savings of £393,417 thereafter.

A summary of the revenue budget position is provided below.  The financial breakdown has been reviewed and approved by the Financial Services Directorate:

Revenue Budget
BAS Resource Budget (2015/16):  £             2,271,450
Target Savings (recurring):  £                500,000
Post-Implementation Budget (full yr)  £             1,878,033
Full Year Budget Savings (recurring)  £                393,417
Post-Implementation Budget (2nd May 2016)
2016 / 2017
Proposed Resource Budget* (16/17)  £             1,910,818
Realised Savings  £                360,632
Target difference -£                139,368

* 1 month of current budget and 11 months of post-implementation budget.

The full financial breakdown has been included as Appendix I of Part 2 of this Decision Notice.

5. Consultations Carried Out

Name (Collar Number) Department Comments
Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner & Joanna Carter, Chief Executive Officer (3594) Office of the PCC A number of meetings have taken place to discuss both the progress of the Review and the interdependencies with other key projects.  Feedback has focused around the public impact of the proposed public contact options to ensure fair and equal access to services.
Andrew Smart (6405)

Jane Palmer (4364)

Financial Services Financial Services have reviewed the financial implications section and have approved the budget figures.

CC’s Chief Finance Officer has given support to plans for end to end transactional services and resultant impact on the Financial Services resource structure.

ACC Paul Kennedy (1614)

Operational Commanders

Local Policing Feedback has been provided on the alignment to Operational Policing, the community impact of the proposed public contact options and the provision of secretarial support.
T/Ch Supt Lisa Winward (1992) Beyond Local Policing Direct feedback on the structure of the department to ensure it is both aligned to the future organisational structure and well placed to respond to future financial pressures.
Rosemarie Holmes (4647)

Wayne Gill (4675)

Sally Atkinson (4549)


Human Resources Advice and direction on HR impact of proposals, phased implementation plans, UNISON engagement and consultation considerations.
Jane Wintermeyer (3840) Joint Corporate Legal Services Consulted as part of Command Team briefing.  Feedback around the impact of dedicated exhibits management team to mitigate potential risks arising from damaged property.
Louise Wood (4206) Corporate Communications Advice and direction on community engagement plans, interdependencies with wider projects, development potential for online services.
Jonathan Garrett (5782) Property and Facilities Feedback related to the alignment with the Estates Strategy to ensure we identify interdependencies early and plan the transition to the new infrastructure.
Sudeep Chatterjee (6655)

Stuart Mackleston (4016)

Information and Communications Technology Discussed options for public contact portals and the potential impact on technology of implementing improved online services.  Supportive of the concept of contact portals but would need further work to fully understand technological infrastructure and resource / support requirements.
Bob Brigginshaw (6229) Transport Ian Dyer (exhibits manager) has discussed the impact of reducing the number of exhibits stores and the resultant requirement for an enhanced courier service from the orderly pool.
T/Supt Richard Anderson (0217) Partnership Hub Feedback has been provided on the future shape of Neighbourhood Policing and the Citizens in Policing portfolio to ensure alignment with the recommendations of the BAS Review.
Maria Earles (6825) Organisation and Development Discussed opportunities for further savings on supplies and services budgets under the control of O&D.
Sarah Wintringham (4809) Information Management In support of recommendations around the centralisation of operational paper records storage.  Ensured alignment with wider Storage project.

 6. Compliance Checks

Financial Implications/Value for money:
Chief Constables Chief Finance Officer Comments
The figures in this DN have been reviewed and I am content that the basis on which they have been prepared is consistent with NYP budget methodologies.  All the savings are staff related – no provision has been made for any non-staff costs or savings, on the basis that these have been taken account of in the earlier Estates Strategy Decision Notice.

The financial savings as a result of this proposal will be incorporated into the Affordability Programme and the MTFP for 2016/17 onwards.

Legal Implications:
Having read this report and having considered such information as has been provided at the time of being asked to express this view, the Acting Force Solicitor and Head of Legal Services is satisfied that this report does not ask the PCC for North Yorkshire to make a decision which would (or would be likely to) give rise to a contravention of the law.

Human Resources Implications:
This report provides a range proposals supported by clear rationale that maximise business opportunities for the modernisation of business administration services and the style of delivery of services provided to our internal and external  customers.  As with all change management activities, communication, engagement and consultation where required, is key to the successful progression of any such proposals.  I am aware that UNISON has been updated throughout the review process and that extensive plans have been put in place to commence consultation and communication with the workforce immediately post any formal endorsement of the proposals provided in this document.

Public Access to information
As a general principle, the Commissioner expects to be able to publish all decisions taken and all matters taken into account when reaching the decision.  This Notice will detail all information which the Commissioner will disclose into the public domain.  The decision and information will be made available on the Commissioner’s website.

Only where material is properly classified as Restricted under the Government Protective Marking Scheme or if that material falls within the description at 2(2) of The Elected Local Policing Bodies (Specified Information) Order 2011 will the Commissioner not disclose decisions and/or information provided to enable that decision to be made.  In these instances, Part 2 will be used to detail those matters considered to be restricted.  Information in Part 2 will not be published.

All decisions taken by the Commissioner will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).


Part 2

Is there a Part 2 to this Notice – YES (please delete as appropriate)

If Yes, what is the reason for restriction: 

The information included in Part 2 is properly classified as Restricted.

Report Information

Author(s): Kate Williams, Customer Relationship Manager & Emma Connolly, District Account Manager

Head of Department: T/Ch Supt Lisa Winward

Executive Group Sponsor(s):  ACC Paul Kennedy

Date created:  27.10.15

Background documents:

Decision Notice Part 2

I confirm that all the above advice has been sought and received against this and any associated Part 2 information and I am satisfied that this is an appropriate request to be submitted for a decision

Signature:          Kate Williams                                                                            Date:  27.10.15

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