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009/2015: Proposal to develop North Yorkshire Police’s exhibit storage infrastructure – 03 August 2015

Executive Summary and recommendation:

There is a need for the organisation to provide modern, fit for purpose exhibits storage facilities which will support the effective, efficient and appropriate management of exhibits and found property storage for North Yorkshire Police.  The provision of exhibits storage facilities will be aligned to, and informed by, the planned Estate Strategy and will be built around the network of police stations and custody facilities that will form the foundations of North Yorkshire Police’s estate.

The provision of improved facilities will support the organisation in meeting the policing and corporate priorities committed to in the Police and Crime Plan; releasing officer time back into operational policing and reducing the risks associated with exhibits handling, thereby supporting successful prosecutions and positive outcomes for victims.

This report provides the Executive Board with information and costs in respect of a proposal to develop the existing exhibits and found property storage facilities at the Fulford Road, York site.  The report also details a proposal to centralise the storage of high risk exhibits to a single site.  Finally, the report provides recommendations to develop the security infrastructure at key sites around the North Yorkshire area to safeguard the security and integrity of exhibits at those locations.

The development of the proposal has identified opportunities to significantly improve the storage and handling of exhibits and to make both efficiency and cost savings by centralising the storage of certain types of exhibits.

York District currently generates in excess of 60% of the exhibits managed across the North Yorkshire Police area.  These exhibits are currently held in facilities which are no longer fit for purpose and which offer little potential for development due to the location of the stores, the infrastructure of the buildings and the planning restrictions on developing the current facilities.

There are additional opportunities linked to the development of the York site which would improve the management, security and storage of certain high risk exhibits and these opportunities are detailed within the proposal.

Recommendations:

  • To approve the development of the Fulford Road, York site to provide a fit for purpose storage facility as outlined in the full report at Part 2 of this Decision Notice.
  • To approve the centralisation of the storage of the specified types of high-risk exhibits as detailed in the full report at Part 2 of this Decision Notice.
  • To approve the developments to the security of the existing stores across the NYP estate as detailed in the full report at Part 2 of this Decision Notice.
  • To approve the budget estimate shown in Appendix B of Part 2 of this Decision Notice
  • To approve the reallocation of funds held within the Police Property Act Fund to offset the costs associated with this development proposal and the ongoing revenue costs associated with exhibits management.

Police and Crime Commissioner decision: Approved

Signature: signature
Date: 03 August 2015
Title: Police and Crime Commissioner


Part 1

Unrestricted facts and advice to the PCC

  1. Introduction and background

An exhibit is an item of property which has been seized:

  • When necessary for evidential purposes or where known to be or suspected to be the proceeds of crime
  • When required for forensic examination
  • For safekeeping – on limited occasions i.e. following a sudden death
  • If items are offensive weapons or items used to facilitate crime

Currently once an exhibit is seized it is submitted to a designated exhibit store for retention during investigations, and subsequently then returned to owner or disposed of.  These stores are managed by Business Administration Services (BAS) managers and staff.

North Yorkshire Police currently have:

  • Twelve permanent designated stores
  • Fifteen 24/7 transit (temporary) stores
  • Four designated drugs stores

North Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police Internal Audit colleagues undertook a joint audit of exhibits management in 2011/12.  As part of this review a number of issues were identified with the suitability of the current infrastructure of our exhibits and found property storage environments.  The following recommendation was made:

“That an overall adequacy assessment is required for all locations and recommendations for physical improvements should be submitted to Property & Facilities for consideration.  This should take into account security, storage provision (shelving, fridges/freezers, labelling, bulk storage) and should include temporary and sensitive property storage and an access and security assessment.”

A minimum specification was developed covering all aspects of the infrastructure of Exhibits stores, this was then utilised to conduct an adequacy assessment across all stores.

The recommended works emanating from that assessment were considered alongside a proposal which was being evaluated for a Centralised Exhibits and Paper Records storage facility for the organisation.  The centralised storage proposal would have removed the need for significant expenditure to develop the current estate and would have resulted in the closure of all current main storage facilities leaving only temporary stores in operation.

As a result of the work being done to evaluate a centralised store the recommended store developments were prioritised, with a focus on meeting our immediate Health and Safety obligations, addressing significant security requirements and ensuring the welfare of our staff.  The prioritised schedule of works was submitted to the Executive Board for consideration in July 2013 with approval being given for expenditure of £70,000 to address the immediate storage concerns identified through the assessments.  The list of works has now been completed which has resulted in improved storage facilities in the specified locations.

As the evaluation of the centralised storage facility progressed and the detailed cost / benefit analysis was undertaken it became clear that the proposal to centralise all exhibits and paper records storage for the organisation was neither affordable nor did it present overwhelming operational benefits given the limitations presented by the expansive geography of the North Yorkshire Police area.

Despite the recommendation not to progress further with the evaluation, a number of elements of the proposal made considerable operational sense.  There is significant operational, procedural and risk-management advantage to be gained by further considering the centralisation of some types of sensitive property.  This proposal seeks to explore those opportunities and to recommend a way in which those benefits can be realised.

A corporate approach to exhibits management has now been established across the force.  This has ensured that inconsistencies against the minimum specification (now in place) can be identified early and addressed.  Training and communications are also underway to improve colleagues’ knowledge of the processes, procedure and standards to mitigate the risk of issues re-occurring.

In addition, internal control mechanisms are being adopted to ensure that ‘triggers’ are in place to identify potential areas of concern.  This is being managed through departmental governance and through the Exhibits Working Group under the leadership of the Deputy Chief Constable.  Monthly audits and performance reports are undertaken and published by Business Administration Services (BAS).  Should issues be identified then these are escalated through the appropriate governance arrangements including the Exhibits Working Group, Operational departments, Property and Facilities department and Health and Safety colleagues as necessary.

  1. Matters for consideration

Having evaluated and discounted the wholly centralised storage option it was necessary to revisit the original store adequacy assessments to identify areas for improvement given the longer-term utilisation of the stores.  The exhibits store which currently presents the greatest area of risk to the organisation, both in terms of the facilities it provides, the ease of use and access to those facilities, the state of repair of those facilities and the limitations the facilities place on the future development potential for the store, is at Fulford Road, York.

This proposal makes recommendations for developing the existing infrastructure at York, enhancing the storage and security infrastructure at other key sites across the North Yorkshire Police estate and supporting the continued development of the exhibits management process across all sites both to safeguard exhibits and release officer time back into operational policing.

Through the development of the existing storage infrastructure there are clearly opportunities to provide additional services and to reduce costs associated with the storage and disposal of exhibits.  It is expected that there will be demonstrable and measurable benefits to the organisation which will ensure that the capital investment provides value for money.  These benefits include:-

  • Enhanced exhibits management services through a team of dedicated staff who can provide:
    • A holistic exhibits handling service releasing operational officers from undertaking administrative tasks and contributing to the re-profiling and reduction in workforce numbers that will need to be created over time to respond to the future financial situation.
    • Expertise in exhibit seizure and retention procedures.
  • Reduction in the number of exhibits held through the effective turnover and repatriation of exhibits.
  • Supporting officers to ensure every opportunity is taken to deprive offenders of the proceeds of crime whilst providing advice and guidance to limit the amount of exhibits seized unnecessarily.
  • Eliminating the requirement for additional storage facilities (storage containers) to accommodate large exhibits seizures.
  • Increasing customer confidence in exhibits handling.
  • Removing the requirements to re-provision some exhibits storage facilities as a result of the closure of the Newby Wiske, HQ site.
  • Enhancing the integrity and security of the storage of drugs and firearms.
  • Freeing up time from administrative tasks for Drugs Liaison Officers.
  • Reducing risk and complaints with misplaced exhibits.
  • Improved forensic/frozen exhibit courier service with all forensic exhibits being recorded, tracked and managed via Exhibits Stores.
  • Reducing costs of exhibit disposal by:
    • Reducing the volume of exhibits held.
    • Limiting the number of sites from which exhibits need to be collected for analysis or disposal.
  • Consistent approach to the disposal of sensitive property providing restricted access and ‘closed loop’ handling.
  • Freeing up space for re-utilisation back into the estates portfolio
  • Addressing Internal Audit recommendations.

The works identified in developing a modern, fit for purpose exhibits store and in improving the security arrangements at further sites will address the infrastructure concerns highlighted through the West Yorkshire Police Authority and North Yorkshire Police audits, ensuring compliance.

It is the intention that should approval be given that the works will be undertaken by the contractor successfully awarded the Major Works contract (Appendix C). 

  1. Other options considered, if any

Do nothing – this option is not recommended as the risks identified within the audits and highlighted within this decision notice would not be addressed.  This is not deemed acceptable as the consequence of ‘doing nothing’ would ultimately impact the customer (public).  This would not support the priorities outlined within the Police and Crime Plan.

Decrease scope of the works and develop current exhibits storage facilities – this option is not recommended as to decrease the scope of identified works to be delivered would result in North Yorkshire Police not meeting the obligations against the audit recommendations and would not support the development of the service that is required and expected by our customers (public).  The option to reconfigure the current exhibits store has been discounted as there are space allocation, layout and development restrictions which do not support the provision of a modern, fit for purpose exhibits store.

Increase scope of the works –  this option is not recommended.  A fully costed evaluation of a wholly centralised exhibits and paper records store was undertaken in 2013/14 as part of the proposed development of a Northern Base.  Whilst the proposal identified some opportunities to make revenue savings on the resources needed to manage exhibits and there were further opportunities to release additional space back to the estate from existing stores, all of that came at a significant cost.

The proposed build cost for a purpose-built centralised store of approximately £2.3m would have attracted annual borrowing costs of approximately £160,000.  This is significantly more than the £445,000 cost of developing the York store.

In addition, it was recognised that the expansive geography of North Yorkshire would make the practical day-to-day management of exhibits from a centralised location very difficult.  Exhibits often need to be accessed throughout the course of an investigation.  Holding the exhibits centrally could restrict the timeliness of their accessibility which could impact on the effective conduct of an investigation.  It would also lead to exhibits being regularly transferred across the estate which could pose risks to maintaining the integrity of the exhibit.

It is recommended that the York store development is supported and that further work is undertaken to identify development requirements at the Scarborough and Harrogate sites as there is significant future potential to develop hub stores at these three key sites. 

  1. Contribution to Police and Crime Plan outcomes
  • Protect Vulnerable People – ensure the integrity of evidence to support successful prosecutions and positive outcomes for victims. Improve customer service.
  • Improve Victim Care – in particular through safeguarding the quality and integrity of evidence, enabling charges and sentences appropriate to the harm inflicted on the victim.
  • People First – providing our teams with the appropriate facilities to support the effective delivery of services; responding to concerns raised by our teams regarding the current infrastructure.
  • Transforming the Organisation (Efficiency and Productivity) – through modern, fit for purpose facilities, contributing towards achieving maximum value and efficiency across the organisation and contributing to the re-profiling and reduction in workforce numbers that will need to be created over time to respond to the future financial situation.
  • In addition, the proposal supports our Organisational Values by providing our teams with the right resource make-up, development infrastructure and inherent resilience to allow them the opportunity to demonstrate their Inspirational, Courageous and Compassionate nature. We are, in turn, demonstrating the courage to challenge the status quo and hope to inspire our teams to participate in the continued development of our service.
  1. Consultations carried out

Consultation has been undertaken with key stakeholders from the organisation throughout the development of the proposal.

The proposal is supported by both Crime and Uniformed Operations Command colleagues and has been approved for progression by the Exhibits Steering Group.  Property & Facilities and ISD colleagues have been closely involved in the development of this proposal.

Consultation has also taken place with Drugs Liaison Officers through their command structure and with Regional Forensics, all of whom support the proposed development of facilities, security and processes. 

  1. Financial Implications/Value for money

The investment appraisal is attached in the full evaluation report at Appendix B of Part 2 of the Decision Notice.

Indicative development and equipment costs of £445,682 have been provided by Property and Facilities – this includes associated on costs (design, partner fees and contractors), all equipment for the York Store, security improvements at the referenced sites and a 15% contingency.  In addition, the York development would attract additional annual revenue costs of £3,425 (ISD infrastructure and building running costs over and above that which is currently allocated for the running of the existing garages).  This is substantially less than the £2.3m costs identified in developing a purpose-built wholly centralised exhibits and paper records store.

A capital sum of £300,000 was included in the Capital and Revenue Development programme for 2013/14 in anticipation of these works.  £72,500 of this sum was drawn down in 2013/14 to support the required works to address the immediate health & safety and welfare concerns raised in the adequacy assessments.  The remainder of this sum was unspent at the end of the 2013/14 financial year.

A proposal was discussed and approved by the Executive Board on the 30th September 2014 to reallocate the funds raised through the sale of unclaimed and confiscated property to offset the costs associated with the storage and disposal of exhibits.  If it is considered appropriate, the Executive Board may wish to consider dedicating the existing funds within this account to the budget supporting the developments contained in this proposal.  This sum is reflected in the investment appraisal contained at Appendix B as Part 2 of the Decision Notice.

Chief Constables Chief Finance Officer Comments

There is no specific provision in the current MTFP for these capital costs.

  1. 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. 

  1. Equality Implications

Community and Workforce Impact (EDHR) 

An Equalities Impact Assessment has been carried out as part of the evaluation, and is included at Appendix D of the full evaluation report.

This assessment indicates that the project does not favour or provide any advantage or disadvantage to individuals with any of the protected characteristics.  The recommendations will impact equally across the workforce as any building developments must, as far as is practical, be fully compliant with requirements held within the Equality Act 2010.

  1. Human Resources Implications

It is noted that consideration has already been given to the Health and Safety requirements of our workforce through the priority investment of building works that have already been undertaken on current facilities.  Also that the Equality Impact Assessment identifies that the recommendations have considered the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and that building developments must, as far as is practical, be fully compliant with the requirements of this Act.  In addition, consideration has been made and plans are in place to ensure the correct level of training, communications and engagement takes place with key members of the workforce that will be working in this environment in the future.  Alongside this the promotion of the key benefits of this work through the improvement of processes for frontline staff will be key to the positive implementation of and in turn provide opportunities for enhanced performance and customer service.

Public Access to information

The Police and Crime Commissioner wishes to be as open and transparent as possible about the decisions he/she takes or are taken in his/her name. All decisions taken by the Commissioner will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

As a general principle, the Commissioner expects to be able to publish all decisions taken and all matters taken into account and all advice received when reaching the decision. Part 1 of this Notice will detail all information which the Commissioner will disclose into the public domain. The decision and information in Part 1 will be made available on the NYPCC web site within 2 working days of approval.

Only where material is properly classified as restricted under the GPMS 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 of the Form will be used to detail those matters considered to be restricted.  Information in Part 2 will not be published.


Part 2

Is there a Part 2 to this Notice – YES

If Yes, what is the reason for restriction

Consideration to the publication of the location of certain items of high-risk and/or sensitive exhibits could, if approved, increase the risk/threat to the security and integrity of those exhibits:

  • Terrorist/Organised Crime Group attack

Originating Officer Declaration

Author name:      Kate Williams

Collar number:     6185

  Name      (Collar Number) Date of completion (√)
Head of Department

has reviewed the request and is satisfied that it is correct and consistent with the NYPCC’s plans and priorities.

T/Ch Supt Lisa Winward 8th December 2014
Legal Advice

Legal advice has been sought on this proposal and is considered not to expose the PCC to risk of legal challenge or such risk is outlined in Part 1 or Part 2 of this Notice.

 

Jane Wintermeyer

3840

14/01/15
Financial Advice

The CC CFO has been consulted on this proposal, for which budgetary provision already exists or is to be made in accordance with Part 1 or Part 2 of this Notice.

 

Jane Palmer 004364

15/01/2015
Equalities Advice

Either there is considered to be minimal impact or the impact is outlined in Part1 or Part2 of this Notice.  Author to complete as Equalities matters are mainstreamed within departments.

Kate Williams (6185) EA completed and attached at Appendix D to the main report
HR Advice

HR advice has been sought in relation to any people related matters

 

Rosemarie Holmes

4647

19th January 2015

 

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

Signature:   Kate Williams                                               Date:   23rd October 2014

Author to complete at all times


Appendix

 

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