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005/2016: Storage – modernising the management of information – 09 February 2016

Executive Summary and Recommendations:

The Commissioner is asked to approve an investment of £2.4m to transform and modernize North Yorkshire Police’s document management system.  The investment will allow the organisation to move from paper documents and records which are stored in physical locations, to an electronic system.  This will improve the Force’s ability to search and retrieve material more efficiently, and from any location.

Timely access to information is vital for the smooth-running of a police service – on both the operational and the “corporate” side.

Whilst much of the information required for operational policing is generated, stored and retried electronically through systems such as the Police National Computer, HOLMES and Niche, there are still some areas where records of various kinds (documents, discs, tapes etc) are created in a physical rather than an electronic form, and kept in a variety of storage and archive facilities.  This same situation is also true of many non-operational “corporate” records.

There are a number of disadvantages to having a physical or paper-based records management system.  For example:

  • People who need to access the records must go to the location where they are stored. This ties them to a particular location, which conflicts with the plans for the Force to adopt an “agile” style of working, where people can work from any suitable location, using technology to access the information they need for their job.
  • Physical records take up a considerable amount of storage space across North Yorkshire Police’s estate, and in external (commercially operated) facilities. It costs the Force money to retain this space and retrieve the material that is kept there.
  • Searching for information contained in paper or physical records is a very time-consuming process, and relies on a person reading possibly thousands of documents. This increases the potential for relevant information to be missed.
  • In recent years, North Yorkshire Police – in common with other police services – has been asked to respond to public enquiries into historic cases, which require archived records dating back many years to be searched. As the requirements of such enquiries continue to grow, it will become a huge time burden on the police unless a more efficient mechanism for search and access can be found.  An electronic records management system would provide this efficiency.

North Yorkshire Police has considered what action is required to modernize those elements of its current document management system that are not already electronic.    This will involve putting together a team of people to carry out a significant programme of work lasting until autumn 2017.  The main elements of this programme are to:

  • “Housekeep” the existing records to determine which should be retained and which should be destroyed
  • Scan and digitize records that need to be retained
  • Develop a new electronic records management system for the future

The benefits of the investment and the programme of work are that:

  • North Yorkshire Police will be able to search and access information more easily. This will have a positive impact on the efficiency of criminal investigations and the running of the organisation as a whole, as well as North Yorkshire Police’s ability to respond to requests for data from external agencies and public enquiries.
  • The organisation will be able to reduce the size of its storage facilities, and save on these costs.
  • The organisation will be in a position to implement agile working, to improve the mobility and flexibility of its workforce, in accordance with the Estates Strategy
  • The organisation will be able to reduce the risk of information being lost through physical records becoming degraded, damaged or lost in transit between physical locations


Police and Crime Commissioner decision: Approved

Signature: signature
Date: 09 February 2016
Title: Police and Crime Commissioner

1. Introduction and Background

An assessment of North Yorkshire Police information assets has identified opportunities in relation to improving the way it manages information throughout its lifecycle through creation, processing, transfer, storage/archive and disposal.

In order to support ICT and Estates Strategies as well as agile working in the future, it is recommended that a programme of work is undertaken to not only review and modernise business processes but also to take the opportunity to digitise records where required, as well as identifying records that can be disposed of where it is no longer required for them to be retained.

The scanning of retained paper records and making them accessible and retrievable via existing force systems as an outcome will support the organisation in achieving its strategies but will also vastly reduce the requirement for future storage of records through streamlining business processes to work in as paperless an environment as practicable.   By building in retention periods for the records held electronically will support the organisations requirements to dispose of information when no longer necessary to retain.

The completion of this programme of work will also safeguard the organisation and mitigate the risks already identified and recorded on the force risk register through more efficient information management systems and by making records more accessible and retrievable.

North Yorkshire Police has various storage locations across the force area that holds corporate and operational records.  North Yorkshire Police also utilises external storage facilities for longer term storage requirements.

In particular, opportunities have been identified in the following areas:

Corporate Records

  • Human Resources, including Training, Occupational Health, Health and Safety
  • Finance, including Payroll
  • Joint Corporate Legal Services
  • Professional Standards Department
  • shared electronic storage areas
  • external storage.

Operational Records

  • opportunity to migrate 10 electronic operational police information systems into 1 system for enhanced single searches for retrieval through to disposal of records
  • crime files including Major Crime
  • Firearms Licencing records
  • Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) records
  • Collision Investigation records
  • interview tapes
  • Intelligence
  • shared electronic storage areas
  • external storage.

 Information gathered in relation to each of the above has allowed for the preparation of a modernisation plan for North Yorkshire Police over a period of time until October 2017.  A large proportion of the above records are owned by headquarters departments therefore by modernising these processes and removing the storage of paper records will be timely to support the re-provisioning of the police headquarters.

Associated benefits, including cost benefits, will be gathered and assessed during the project which include:

  • internal storage costs due to freeing up valuable estate storage locations including use of storage containers, enabling more effective space utilisation
  • DX and staff costs facilitating the movement of crime files across the force
  • external storage costs including costs associated with the retrieval of records
  • reduced longer term secure disposal costs
  • reduced resource time locating and retrieving records
  • reduced legal costs incurred as a result in delays in retrieving records
  • supports reduced removal costs in relation to the re-provisioning of headquarters
  • supports ongoing channel shift activities
  • enhanced compliance with the Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information
  • enhanced compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998)
  • assists criminal investigations by making operational information readily available electronically, especially cold case reviews of major crimes
  • supports nation inquiries such as the Goddard Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
  • facilitates the reduction of risk to North Yorkshire Police relating to the location and retrieval of records and being able to share information more effectively.

2. Other Options Considered

An alternative option of the investment of an electronic document records management system has been considered however utilising licences from an existing document storage system is a more cost effective solution and provides best value to the communities of North Yorkshire and the City of York.

It has also been considered whether a reduced proportion of the proposed work could be completed rather than the scale of work proposed.  However this is not recommended due to the types of records held, associated risks already identified and the benefits to be achieved for the organisation and in enabling the ICT and Estates Strategies.

3. Contribution to Police and Crime Plan Priorities

The recommendations in this Decision Notice are offered on the basis that they will fully support the Police and Crime Plan priorities, in particular priority 5 Transforming the Organisation, due to the dependencies with the ICT and Estates strategies as this will allow the organisation to manage its information more efficiently thus allowing for those strategies to be achieved.

4. Implementation and Resourcing Implications

An outline plan has been drawn up which will allow resources to modernise working practices in each of the areas detailed in Section 2, digitisation of records where required through the use of scanning and disposal of records where appropriate.

The timeline has a critical path in order to enable other key changes taking place within North Yorkshire Police, including the re-provisioning of headquarters to Alverton Court, Northallerton, the development and implementation of agile working arrangements, as well as the provision of a data centre.

An assessment of the timescales and resource requirements have therefore been drawn up and costed for an overall completion of October 2017, subject to the recruitment of resources:

5. Consultations Carried Out

Name (Collar Number) Department Comments
Joanna Carter Office of the PCC Yes
Jane Palmer &

Jane Osbourne

Financial Services Yes
Local Policing Not applicable
Lisa Winward Beyond Local Policing Yes
Rosie Holmes Human Resources Yes
Jane Wintermeyer Joint Corporate Legal Services Yes
Louise Wood Corporate Communications Yes
Richard Flint & Jonathon Garrett Property and Facilities Yes
Richard Flint, Sudeep Chattergee, Mel Stabler, Philip Martin & teams Information and Communications Technology Yes
Richard Flint Transport Yes
Joint Corporate Commissioning and Partnership Services Not applicable
Procurement Not applicable
Maria Earles Organisation and Development Yes
Jo Edgar & Colette Easton Information Management Yes

6. Compliance Checks

Financial Implications/Value for money:

  •  Chief Constables Chief Finance Officer Comments

The total expected costs of this proposal as set out in Appendix C can be summarised as follows:   

Finance info

The current version of the MTFP includes provision of £2.4m for the project costs for this proposal.  If this proposal is approved, the excess provision of £251k will be available to reallocate to other projects.  Provision will need to be made in the MTFP for future recurring revenue costs of £48k pa from 2018/19 onwards.

Although it will not be necessary to borrow to fund this project, use of reserves for this purpose will mean that borrowing will be necessary for a future project.  The estimated costs of borrowing £2.4m over 25 years are an average of £154kpa (for interest plus Minimum Revenue Provision).

  •  PCC CFO Comments

 The PCC is being asked to invest over £2.2m in a project to digitise records that already exist within the organisation and also provide a means for this to happen going forward and for these records to then be retrieval in a more efficient way going forward. This is a significant investment that would predominantly be spent on the resources/staff required to scan current documents or transfer the documents from the current forms into a form that can be stored electronically. This project is seen as an enabler for a reduction in the physical estates footprint and also to enable agile/remote working. While this is a significant investment it would appear to be a vital component of the overall change required in the organisation to work in a more effective and efficient way and one that sets the organisation on the track to digitising information within the organisation. With this in mind the decision to invest in this area should provide a more effective and efficient way to work going forward and therefore, in the opinion of the PCC CFO, is a good investment for the PCC to approve should they wish to do so.

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 outlines a critical piece of work that will become a key enabler in the move to transform the ways in which many of our teams work through the Agile Working Project.  I am aware that extensive consultation has taken place regarding outline of these proposals which has received a very positive response.

I note the proposals with regards to the team that are required to deliver the project and would support the prompt recruitment of individuals to deliver to the timeframes detailed should this be approved.

  • 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 – NO

Report Information

  • Author(s) : Sarah Wintringham, Head of Information Management
  • Head of Department: Sarah Wintringham
  • Executive Group Sponsor(s) : DCC Tim Madgwick
  • Date created: 18/11/2015

Background documents:

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: S Wintringham
Date: 18/11/2015

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